Justice O.O. Abike-Fadipe of the Special Offences Court sitting in Ikeja, Lagos, on Wednesday, May 24, 2023, threatened to issue a bench warrant against Femi Fani-Kayode, a former Minister of Aviation, 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 N4.9billion 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.
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 today’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.