No missing fund during Femi Fani-Kayode’s tenure, says EFCC’s witness

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A prosecution witness, Mr Bashir Abdullahi, on Wednesday told a Federal High Court in Lagos that investigations by the EFCC had showed that there was no missing fund during the former Aviation Minister, Femi Fani-Kayode’s tenure.

The witness gave the testimony at the resumed hearing of Fani-Kayode, who is tried for money laundering by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC).

Abdullahi, who is an investigating police officer with the EFCC, told the court that the case file of the accused was assigned to him in 2008 for investigation.

He said a letter was written to the defunct First Inland Bank to produce the bank statement of the accused, and same was deposited with the commission.

The witness said that during investigations, the accused was invited to the EFCC, where he made various statements in writing about the Aviation Intervention Fund received during his tenure.

Cross-examined by the defence counsel, Mr Ifedayo Adedipe (SAN), the witness also told the court that investigations, however, revealed that no part of the funds was missing during the tenure of the accused as minister.

“Our investigations revealed that a total of N19.5 billion was released as Aviation Intervention Fund (AIF) out of which a total of N8.5 billion was released during the tenure of Prof. Femi Aborishade, the predecessor of the accused.

“During the tenure of the accused, N11 billion was released and out of this the accused disbursed a total of N3.8 billion, leaving N7.2 billion in the Ministry’s account.

“Our investigations revealed that no part of the Aviation Fund was missing during the tenure of the accused, and there were no findings that the accused made any disbursement without going through the due process,” he added.

The witness also affirmed that the accused, on assumption of office, set up a committee to probe the disbursement of AIF made by his predecessor.

He said that following the findings of the committee, a report was then sent to the National Security Adviser on the disbursements.

At this point, the prosecutor, Mr Festus Keyamo, asked the court for two dates of adjournment to enable him to produce the remaining witnesses and close his case.

Justice Rita Ofili-Ajumogobia adjourned the case to April 16 and April 17 for continuation of trial.

It will be recalled that Fani-Kayode was first arraigned sometime in December 2008 before Justice Ramat Mohammed on a 47-count charge.

He had pleaded not guilty to the charge and Justice Mohammed granted him a N200 million bail with two sureties in like sum.

He was re-arraigned before Justice Binta Murtala-Nyako following the transfer of Mohammed out of Lagos Division.

NAN also reports that Fani-Kayode was again re-arraigned before Justice Ajumogobia on Feb. 11, 2013 after the transfer of Murtala-Nyako.

Ajumogobia is now the third judge to hear the case in the last five years, and the charge has now been reduced from 47 to a 40-count.

He was alleged to have accepted cash payments in the tune of N100 million, while he held sway as Minister of Aviation and Minister of Culture and Tourism respectively.
According to the prosecutor, the offences contravene the provisions of Sections 15(1), (a), (b),(c), (d) and 15 (2), (a) ,(b) of the Money Laundering (prohibition) Act, 2004. (NAN)

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