The Special Offences Court sitting in Ikeja, Lagos, says it will declare Femi Fani-Kayode, a former Minister of Aviation, wanted if he fails to appear on the next adjourned date for his trial.
Justice Olubumni Abike-Fadipe, who frowned at the constant non-appearance of the defendant, said the last time he was in court was 4 November 2022.
The former Minister is standing trial on 12 counts bordering on the use of false documents, use of fabricated evidence, procuring the execution of documents by false pretence and fabricating evidence.
Fani-Kayode pleaded “not guilty” to the charge when he was first arraigned on 17 December 2021.
The defendant after his arraignment and commencement of trial, has been absent at his trial on at least three adjourned dates, a development which the judge frowned upon.
At the last adjourned date, his counsel, Wale Balogun, told the court of the absence of the defendant on grounds of ill health and some issues he was said to have had with the Department of State Services (DSS).
Also, Balogun had pleaded with the court to grant him an adjournment, promising to make his client available at today’s proceeding.
When the matter was called on Wednesday, Chinozo Eze, who represented the defendant, told the court that Fani-Kayode was not in court due to health issues.
He also informed the court that a medical report and a letter seeking the leave of the court to vacate the two dates listed for the hearing is already in the court file.
The counsel for the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC), Zeenat Atiku, confirmed the development and said the prosecution’s hands are tied to how to forge ahead.
However, the judge frowned upon the constant excuses by the defendant for his non-appearances.
The court subsequently held that it would issue a bench warrant against Fani-Kayode if he failed to appear on the next adjourned date.
The judge also frowned upon the prosecutor for non-diligent prosecution of the case, noting that the EFCC can withdraw the matter if it is not ready to prosecute.
Justice Olubumni Abike-Fadipe adjourned the case until 7 November 2023 for the continuation of trial.