By Taiye Agbaje
Mrs Patience Omoike-Mark, counsel to former Minister of Aviation, Mr Femi Fani-Kayode, on Thursday stated that a Federal High Court (FHC) sitting in Lagos did not order the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) to file fresh charges against him and others.
Omoike-Mark said that Justice Daniel Osiagor, instead, declared that the suit no longer had life before the court following a Lagos Division of the Court of Appeal’s judgment quashing the case.
The lawyer, who gave the clarification in a statement she signed on Thursday in Abuja, also made available to newsmen a Certified True Copy (CTC) of the ruling delivered by the judge to that effect.
Media reports had claimed that a FHC in Lagos had ordered that exhibits and documents in a suit marked: FHC/L/251C/16, filed by the EFCC against former Minister of State for Finance, Nenandi Usman, Fani-Kayode and others be released back to the commission to enable it file fresh charges against the defendants in the Abuja division of the court.
But reacting, Omoike-Mark refuted the media reports, saying that the court only directed that documents and exhibits filed in the course of the trial be returned to parties in the case.
“We refer to case number FHC/L/251C/16, FRN vs NENADI ESTHER USMAN & 3 ORS.
“The matter, wherein we represent the 2nd defendant (Fani-Kayode), came up on the 25th of April, 2023.
“The court was informed of the judgment of the Court of Appeal quashing the charge in the Federal High Court, Lagos over lack of jurisdiction.
“And after counsel applied for their documents in the matter, the court, in abiding by the decision of the Court of Appeal, ordered that documents belonging to parties in the suit be released to them.
“What this implied is that all parties, including Chief Fani-Kayode, should have access to their documents.
“The court struck out the suit from its own docket since it no longer has jurisdiction to hear it,” she said.
The lawyer said that the clarification became necessary to let the Nigerian public know the truth.
“As at today, there is no case in respect of these charges in the court against our client and after seven years of prosecution.
We are not only grateful to the courts for administering justice in a fair and just manner, but we are also overjoyed at the fact that what can only be described as yet another seven-year ordeal has been brought to an end.
“Despite their loss at the Court of Appeal last week and the decision of the Court of Appeal Judges to quash all the charges, if the EFCC deems it fit to go to an Abuja court after seven years of unsuccessfully prosecuting the same matter in Lagos, that is their prerogative.
“Whatever they choose to do, as at now, the matter is completely dead. They have lost the case; the charges have been quashed and the matter has been thrown out,” she said.
She said that the team had applied for the CTC of the Appeal Court judgement and that this would be made available to the public as soon as it is received.
Meanwhile, a CTC of Justice Osiagor’s ruling marked: FHC/L/251C/16 delivered on Tuesday but made available to newsmen by the lawyer on Thursday reads in part:
“The court, having noted that the Court of Appeal has announced the death of this case in this jurisdiction.
“It is hereby ordered that all exhibits or documents of the parties be returned to them.”
The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports that the Court of Appeal in Lagos had, on April 20, quashed charges of misappropriation of N4.6 billion and money laundering brought against Mrs Usman, alongside Fani-Kayode, a former Chairman of the Association of Local Governments of Nigeria (ALGON), Yusuf Danjuma, and a company, Jointrust Dimensions Nigeria Ltd.
The decision followed an appeal filed by Mrs Usman against the lower court on jurisdictional grounds.(NAN)(www.nannews.ng)