Court Threatens Bench Warrant For Fani-Kayode’s Arrest
Justice O.O. Abike-Fadipe of the Special Offences Court sitting in Ikeja, Lagos, has threatened to issue a bench warrant for the arrest of Femi Fani-Kayode, a former Minister of Aviation.
The judge issued the threat on Wednesday, over Kayode’s constant non-appearance in court for his perjury trial on grounds of ill health.
Prior to this, the former minister was facing trial for an alleged N4.9 billion fraud before Justice Daniel Osiagor of the Federal High Court sitting in Ikoyi, Lagos.
He was charged by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission on a 12 count- charge before Justice Abike-Fadipe, following his alleged use of forged medical report(s), tendered at the Federal High Court to justify his absence in court.
The defendant had pleaded “not guilty” to the charges when he was arraigned on December 17, 2021.
However, at the last sitting early this year, on February 20, 2023, the defence counsel, Wale Balogun, informed the court of the absence of the defendant due to ill-health.
He said: “We regret to announce to your lordship that the defendant is not in court due to health reasons; and secondly, due to a running battle he has with both the DSS and the Police.”
The matter was however adjourned till May 24 and 25, 2023 for continuation of trial.
At today’s sitting, the counsel who represented the defendant, Chinozo Eze, again informed the court of the absence of the defendant.
He said: “The absence of the defendant in court is due to health issues.” .
He also told the court that a medical report and a letter seeking the leave of the court to vacate the dates earlier granted by the court had been filed before the court.
In response to this, the counsel to the EFCC, Z. Atiku, confirmed the receipt of the said letter.
He however noted that the hands of the prosecution in the circumstance were tied.
Justice Abike-Fadipe expressed displeasure with “the constant non-appearance of the defendant.”
He pointed out that the last time that Kayode appeared in court was on 4th November 2022.
He said: “Series of excuses have been tendered by the defendant for his non-appearance.”
According to him, if the ex-minister fails to appear in court at the next adjourned date of November 7, 2023, he shall issue a bench warrant against him.