A former Minister of Aviation, Femi Fani-Kayode, pleaded on Wednesday that his alleged N4.9bn fraud case should be transferred from Lagos to Abuja.
The Economic and Financial Crimes Commission had arraigned him on 17 counts before the Federal High Court in Lagos.
The other defendants involved in the case are a former Minister of State for Finance, Nenadi Usman; an ex-Chairman of Kagarko Local Government Area of Kaduna State, Mr Yusuf Danjuma; and a company, Jointrust Dimentions Nigeria Limited.
At the resumed proceedings on Wednesday, Fani-Kayode, through his lawyer, Mr Norrison Quakers (SAN), pleaded with Justice Rilwan Aikawa to transfer his trial to Abuja on the grounds that the cause of the action leading to the charges took place in Abuja.
Quakers argued that the facts of the case showed that all the transactions which his client carried out as the Director of Media and Publicity of the Goodluck Jonathan Campaign Organisation, for which he was charged, took place in Abuja.
Besides, he said Fani-Kayode was based in Abuja and had another trial currently going in Abuja in another case.
But the EFCC’s lawyer, Rotimi Oyedepo, urged the court to refuse the application.
Oyedepo maintained that Fani-Kayode should be tried in Lagos because the instruments of the transactions, including cheques and receipts ‘were recovered in Lagos’.
“The financial institutions used in the transactions have their head offices in Lagos,” Oyedepo added.
He said 13 of the prosecution’s 17 witnesses live in Lagos, adding that the application was a ploy delay the case.
Oyedepo informed Justice Aikawa that Fani-Kayode had earlier raised the same issue before Justice Muslim Hassan of the same court, to whom the case was first assigned.
He said after Justice Hassan withdrew from the case based on Fani-Kayode’s claim that he would not get justice before the judge, the Chief Judge of the Federal High Court, Justice Ibrahim Auta, did not transfer the case to Abuja but reassigned it to Justice Aikawa of the same court.
“The consequence of the alleged offence of money laundering is not limited to Abuja, but the entire federation,” Oyedepo said.
Before the application for transfer was moved, Oyedepo had sought to tender receipts showing that Fani-Kayode made a cash payment of N30m to the first prosecution witness, Adewumi Idowu, a media consultant.
The EFCC sought to tender the two receipts acknowledging cash payments of N24m and N6m, but Quakers objected on the basis that they were not the originals.
Justice Aikawa adjourned till September 26 and 27 for ruling and continuation of trial.