Fani-Kayode pleads not guilty granted N5m bail over forgery

The Special Offences Court sitting in Ikeja has granted bail to a former Minister of Aviation, Femi Fani-Kayode, in the sum of N5 million.

Justice Olubunmi Abike-Fadipe granted the bail on Friday following an oral application made by the counsel to the former minister, Wale Balogun.

The bail conditions included that the defendant must fill an undertaking to attend all his trial dates and to present a surety in like sum, who must be resident in the court’s jurisdiction and should also fill an undertaking that the defendant would attend all hearings.

Before the court heard the bail application, Justice Abike-Fadipe first ruled on an application by the former minister challenging the powers of the jurisdiction of the court to try him on the charge of forgery and procurement of a ‘fabricated’ medical report made against him by the Economic and Crimes Commission (EFCC).

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It dismissed the objections of the defence counsel and held that it had jurisdiction to try the case. This paved the way for Fani-Kayode to be arraigned on all 12 counts of alleged forgery of medical reports to which he pleaded not guilty.

The anti-graft agency had specifically accused Fani-Kayode of procuring one Dr Ogieva Oziegbe to issue the fake medical report, which he allegedly tendered before the Federal High Court where is currently standing trial before Justice Daniel Osiagor for money laundering allegation.

But the former minister had, through his lawyer, submitted that the alleged offence was said to have occurred in Abuja and not in Lagos, and the court lacked the powers to try him.

Relying on Sections 374 and 396 of the Administration of Criminal Justice Act 2015, as well as section 23 of the Administration of Criminal Justice Law of Lagos State amended in October 2021, Justice Abike-Fadipe held that the purpose of these provisions of the law was to ensure speedy dispensation of justice and to reduce delay tactics often used by defendants to stall criminal trials brought against them.

The judge also noted that the arguments raised by the defence counsel, that the charges fell outside the scope of the EFCC prosecuting the matter, showed that it was challenging the validity of the charges which fell within the jurisdiction of the court.

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