Former spokesman to Goodluck Jonathan's Presidential Campaign Organization, Chief Femi Fani-Kayode and two others were yesterday re-arraigned at the Federal High Court, Lagos, by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC).
He was re-arraigned alongside former Minister of Finance, Mrs. Nenadi Usman, Mr. Danjuma Yussuf and a company, Jointrust Dimentions Nigeria Limited, over N4.6 billion alleged fraud.
The re-arraignment followed the transfer of the case to another judge, Rilwan Aikawa of the same court. They are facing amended 17 counts charge.
Former trial judge, Justice Sule Hassan, excused himself, following allegation of possible bias raised against him by Fani-Kayode.
Fani-kayode had stated that there is a likelihood that the judge may be biased because he was a prosecutor for the EFCC and drafted the money laundering charge leveled against him before Justice Rita Ofili-Ajumogobia between 2014 and 2015. He was discharged and acquitted in that matter.
The defendants pleaded not guilty to the charges and the judge thereafter adjourned till June 7 and 9, 2017, to hear their application to transfer the case out of Lagos.
Yesterday, the defendants counsel, represented by Abiodun Owonikoko (SAN) and Wale Balogun informed the court about their application challenging court's jurisdiction and persuaded the court to hear it first.
But EFCC counsel, Rotimi Oyedepo, urged the court to discountenance the application and take their plea before hearing any of their grievances. The judge agreed with him.
Having pleaded not guilty to the 17 counts charge, they were asked to continue with the bail terms earlier granted them by Justice Sule on July 4, 2016 .
Justice Aikawa subsequently adjourned till June 7 and 9, 2017, for commencement of trial and ruling on the application seeking for the transfer of the case out of Lagos jurisdiction.
In the charge marked FHC/L/C/251c/2016, the defendants were accused of unlawfully retaining the sum of N4. 6 billion, which they knew to be proceeds from an unlawful act on or before January 2015.
While Usman, Yusuf and Jointrust Dimentions Nigeria Limited retained the sum of N1.5 billion, Fani-Kayode and Olubode Oke, said to be at large, were alleged to have retained the sum of N1,650,650 billion.
The accused persons were also alleged to have made payment of several amounts running into billions of naira without going through financial institutions.
The offences according to the anti-graft agency are contrary to sections 1(a), Section 15(2)(d), 16(d), 18(a), 16(d) 18(a) of the Money Laundering (Prohibition) (Amendment) Act, 2012 and punishable under Section 15(3), 16(2)(b) and 4 of the same Act.