Justice O. O. Abike-Fadipe of the Special Offences Court sitting in Ikeja, Lagos, on Wednesday threatened to issue a bench warrant against the former Minister of Aviation, Femi Fani-Kayode, over his “constant non-appearance” in court on grounds of ill health for his alleged forgery trial.
Fani-Kayode, who is also being prosecuted by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) for an alleged N4.9 billion fraud before Justice Daniel Osiagor of the Federal High Court sitting in Ikoyi, Lagos, is facing a 12-count charge before Justice Abike-Fadipe, following his alleged use of forged medical report(s), which he tendered at the Federal High Court to justify his absence in court.
One of the counts reads: “That you, Femi Fani-Kayode, on or about the 11th day of October, 2021 in Lagos, within the jurisdiction of this Honourable Court, by fraudulently used a false document titled: Medical Report On Olufemi Fani-Kayode 60 Years/Male/Hosp. No. 00345 Dated 11/10/2021 before the Federal High Court, Lagos Judicial Division in charge No. FHC/L/251C/2016 which document you purported to have been issued by Kubwa General Hospital.”
Another count reads: “That you, Femi Fani-Kayode, on or about the 23rd day of March, 2021 in Lagos, within the jurisdiction of this Honourable Court, fraudulently used a false document titled: To Whom It May Concern Re: Femi Fani-Kayode Male/60 Years Hospital. No. 32145 Dated 23rd March 2021 before the Federal High Court, Lagos Judicial Division in charge No. FHC/L/251C/2016 which document you purported to have been issued by Kubwa General Hospital.”
He pleaded “not guilty” to the charges when he was arraigned on December 17, 2021.
At the last sitting on February 20, 2023, the defence counsel, Wale Balogun, had informed the court of the absence of the defendant due to ill-health.
“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,” he had told the court.
Consequently, the matter was adjourned till May 24 and 25, 2023 for continuation of trial.
However, at Wednesday’s sitting, the counsel who represented the defendant, Chinozo Eze, informed the court of the absence of the defendant.
“The absence of the defendant in court is due to health issues,” Eze said.
He further informed 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.
Counsel to the EFCC, Z. Atiku, confirmed the receipt of the said letter, noting that the hands of the prosecution, in the circumstance, were tied.
Justice Abike-Fadipe expressed displeasure with “the constant non-appearance of the defendant”, noting that the last time he was in court was November 4, 2022.
“Series of excuses have been tendered by the defendant for his non-appearance,” the trial judge noted.
The court, therefore, threatened to issue a bench warrant against Fani-Kayode, if he again fails to appear in court at the next adjourned date of November 7, 2023.