The Special Offences Court has postponed the arraignment of a former Minister of Aviation, Femi Fani-Kayode’s trial to to December 17 for a ruling over alleged forgery of medical reports.
The minister was said to be arraigned before Justice O.O Abike-Fadipe by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) over a 12-count charge of procuring the execution of documents under false pretence.
Other charges leveled against Fani-Kayode include the use of false documents, fabricating evidences and use of fabricated evidence.
Before the adjournment, Counsel to Fani-Kayode, Wale Balogun was said to have challenged the jurisdiction of the court to hear the criminal suit, noting that the alleged offences occurred in Abuja and a Lagos court does not have jurisdiction to hear the suit.
“We filed before your lordship an application bordering on your lordship’s jurisdiction to entertain an arraignment,” he said.
Opposing the submission, EFCC Counsel, Rotimi Oyedepo stated that the mere filing of an objection to a charge will not prevent a court from taking a plea.
“It is elementary that what triggers your lordship’s jurisdiction in a criminal proceeding is the taking of the plea so your lordship can now assume or decline jurisdiction. Section 393(2) of the Administration of Criminal Justice Act 2015 states that the defendant being tried on an information can raise an objection to a charge or information only after the plea has been taken,” he said.
Oyedepo further urged the court to dismiss the defence’s application on the grounds that it is an attempt to frustrate the trial because the defendant was charged under the Lagos laws and can only be tried in Lagos.
“According to the EFCC, the former Aviation Minister through one Ogieva Oziegbe procured fake medical reports on various occasions to avoid attending his trial at the Lagos Division of the Federal High Court. He procured the false medical reports on Jan. 31, 2018, May 30, 2019, Nov. 24, 2020, March 23, Oct. 11. The defendant falsely purported before a Federal High Court, Lagos in charge number FHC/L/251C/2016 that the reports were issued by either Kubwa General Hospital or the Federal Ministry of Health, Abuja, Federal Staff Hospital. The offences violate Sections 88(1), 365(3), 366 and 369 of the Criminal Law of Lagos 2015.” he said.