A request by a former Minister of Aviation in Nigeria, Mr Femi Fani-Kayode, for his trial at a Federal High Court in Lagos to be transferred to Abuja has been refused.

The court turned down the request on Tuesday.

Mr Fani-Kayode and a former Minster of State for Finance, Nenadi Usman are being tried on a 17-count charge filed against them by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC).

They are alleged to have laundered 4.6 billion Naira between January and March 2015.

Mr Fani-Kayode and Usman have pleaded not guilty to the charges.

At the last adjourned date of June 21, Mr Fani-Kayode's counsel, Mr Norrisson Quakers, asked the court to transfer the case to its Abuja division, arguing that the court lacked jurisdiction to adjudicate on the matter.

Quakers argued that the facts of the case showed that all the transactions carried out by the accused as Director of Media and Publicity of the Goodluck Jonathan Campaign Organisation, took place in Abuja.

He had also argued that the accused resided in Abuja and had another ongoing trial at the Federal High Court in Abuja.

But the EFCC’s lawyer, Mr Rotimi Oyedepo, opposed the application and urged the court to refuse it on the grounds that the transactions as well as cheques and receipts in furtherance of same, were done in Lagos.

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Hearing resumed on Tuesday and Justice Mohammed Aikawa, who is now handling the case gave his ruling after hearing both parties. 

He held that some of the authorities cited by defence counsel, were delivered before the enactment of the Administration of Criminal Justice Act, 2015, which he noted had provided exceptions to the issues of venue of court.

“In the case before me, the prosecution avers in its counter affidavit that “the sum of 30 million Naira was paid to PW1 (Olusegun Idowu) of Paste Posters Company Ltd, who has his office in Lagos”.

“This, in my view shows that all facts leading to the transaction was done in Lagos, and only evidence will prove otherwise.

“In the light of all these, it is clear that the facts and circumstances of this case falls into the exceptions of the law regarding criminal trials.

“There is no justification to warrant a transfer of this case to Abuja; the interest of justice requires that the trial of this case continues in this court.

“This application hereby fails and is accordingly dismissed,” he ruled.

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Another application challenging the tendering of photocopies of payment receipts by PW1, who began giving testimony on June 7, was also submitted by the defence counsel and the court also ruled on that.

Justice Aikawa held that it was not the business of the court to concern itself with whether or not a document is original, so long as the document sought to be tendered, is duly certified.

The court accordingly, dismissed the objections, admitted the receipts in evidence and marked same as exhibits 3 and 3A respectively.
The court then called on prosecution to continue with the examination of his first witness.

Before hearing ended on Tuesday, Mr Quakers, sought for an adjournment to enable him study the exhibits and prepare his cross examination.

After considering his request, the court granted it and adjourned the case to September 27 for cross examination and continuation of trial.

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