Judge refuses out-of-court meeting with Fani-Kayode
Justice Muslim Hassan of the Federal High Court, Lagos, on Monday refused an application by former Minister of Aviation, Chief Femi Fani-Kayode, to hold a private meeting in his chambers.
Fani-Kayode, through his lawyer Norrisson Quakers (SAN), had sought to meet with the judge in private to discuss certain issues pertaining to the case, which he said were not meant for the public.
Quakers, while arguing the application, said the “facts” he has could “embarrass” the judge should he say them openly.
He said the prosecution counsel should also be allowed to be present during the private meeting.
The Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) arraigned Fani-Kayode and former Minister of State for Finance, Senator Nenadi Usman, on a 17-count charge of laundering about N4.6billion. They pleaded not guilty to the charges.
The charges border on conspiracy, unlawful retention of proceeds of theft and corruption and money laundering.
They were charge along with former National Chairman of the Association of Local Government of Nigeria (ALGON) and ex-Chairman of Kagarko local government area of Kaduna State, Mr. Yusuf Danjuma and a company said to belong to him, Jointrust Dimentions Nigeria Limited.
Quakers, who said he was just briefed by Fani-Kayode on Sunday evening, said he needed some time to study the case-file so as prepare adequately for his client’s defence.
He is taking over from Chief Ifedayo Adedipe (SAN), who represented Fani-Kayode when he was arraigned.
Quakers said: “I’m coming into this matter for the first time. I was briefed yesterday (Sunday) evening. I need time to study the case.
“That aside, I had applied to enable I and the prosecution counsel to see the judge in chambers. It’s imperative that parties approach the court in chambers.
“It is our duty to protect the dignity of the court. The rules allow the court to hear certain applications in chambers. We owe it a duty to protect the court from embarrassment.
“I have at my possession facts that will assist the court to determine whether to proceed or not,” he said.
Usman’s lawyer, Chief Ferdinand Orbih and Danjuma’s lawyer, S. I. Ameh (SAN), did not oppose the application.
They also urged court to give Quakers time to prepare for the case having just been briefed.
But, EFCC’s lawyer, Nkereuwem Anana, said while Fani-Kayode reserved the right to change counsel at any time, it should not impede trial.