JUSTICE Mohammed Aikawa of a Federal High Court sitting in Lagos on Tuesday, declined to grant an application brought by a former Minister of Aviation, Femi Fani-Kayode, seeking transfer of a N4.6 billion money laundering case against him.
Fani-Kayode is standing trial alongside a former Minister of State for Finance, Nenadi Usman.
Also charged alongside the duo is a former National Chairman of the Association of Local Government in Nigeria (ALGON) Yusuf Danjuma, and a company, Jointrust Dimensions Ltd
The accused are charged by The Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) on 17 counts of alleged N4.6billion money laundering.
They had, however, pleaded not guilty to the charges.
It would be recalled that the accused were first arraigned on June 28, 2016, before Justice Muslim Hassan of the same court, but the judge withdrew from the suit on March 16, following an application by Fani-Kayode, on grounds of a likely bias.
The case was, therefore, re-assigned to Justice Aikawa and the accused were re-arraigned on the charges.
It would also be recalled that at the last adjourned date on June 21, defence counsel, Mr Norrisson Quakers (SAN) had prayed the court to transfer the case to its Abuja division, adding that the court lacked jurisdiction.
He had argued that the facts of the case showed that all the transactions carried out by the accused while Director of Media and Publicity of the Goodluck Jonathan Campaign Organisation, took place in Abuja.
He had also argued that the accused resides in Abuja and had another trial ongoing at the Federal High Court in Abuja.
Meanwhile, in objection, EFCC’s lawyer, Mr Rotimi Oyedepo, had urged the court to refuse the application, on the grounds that the transactions as well as cheques and receipts in furtherance of same, were done in Lagos.
He had urged the court to dismiss the application for transfer, as a mere waste of time.
Delivering judgement on Tuesday, Justice Aikawa held that some of the authorities cited by defence counsel were delivered before the enactment of the Administration of Criminal Justice Act, 2015, which he noted had provided exceptions to the issues of venue of court.
“In the case before me, the prosecution avers in its counter affidavit that “the sum of N30 million was paid to PW1 (Olusegun Idowu) of Paste Posters Company Ltd, who has his office in Lagos.”
“This, in my view shows that all facts leading to the transaction were done in Lagos, and only evidence will prove otherwise.
“In the light of all these, it is clear that the facts and circumstances of this case fall within the exceptions of the law regarding criminal trials.
“There is no justification to warrant a transfer of this case to Abuja; the interest of justice requires that the trial of this case continues in this court.
“This application hereby fails and is accordingly dismissed,” he ruled.
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The matter was subsequently adjourned until September 27 for the continuation of trial.