Former Nigeria’s minister of Finance and Director of Finance of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) Presidential Campaign Organization in the last general election, Mrs. Nenadi Esther Usman and former Minister and Director of Media and Publicity of the same PDP Presidential Campaign Organization, Femi Fani-Kayode have been ordered by Justice M. S. Hassan of the Federal High Court Lagos, to be remanded in prison on a 17-count charge bordering on conspiracy, stealing, corruption and making cash payments exceeding the amount authorized by law.
The accused persons were charged to court by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC).
They were alleged to have stolen and illegally disbursed about N4.9 billion Naira belonging to the Federal Government of Nigeria for political and personal uses.
The defendants pleaded not guilty to all the charges preferred against them.
Part of the charge reads:
“That you, NENADI ESTHER USMAN, FEMI FANI-KAYODE, DANJUMA YUSUF and JOINTRUST DIMENTIONS NIGERIA LTD on or about the 8th day of January, 2015, within the jurisdiction of this Honourable Court conspired amongst yourselves to indirectly retain the sum of N1,500, 000,000.00 (One Billion, Five Hundred Million Naira) which sum you reasonably ought to have known form part of the proceeds of an unlawful act to wit: stealing, and you thereby committed an offence contrary to Section 18(a) of the Money Laundering (Prohibition) (Amendment) Act, 2012 and punishable under Section 15(3) & 4 of the same Act.
‘That you, NENADI ESTHER USMAN, DANJUMAN YUSUF AND JOINTRUST DIMENTIONS NIGERIA LTD on or about the 9th day of January, 2015, within the jurisdiction of this Honourable Court indirectly retained the sum of N300,000,000.00 (Three Hundred Million Naira ) which sum you reasonably ought to have known form part of the proceeds of an unlawful act to wit: corruption, and you thereby committed an offence contrary to Section 15(2)(d) of the Money Laundering (Prohibition) (Amendment) Act, 2012 and punishable under Section 15(3) & 4 of the same Act”..
In view of their plea, prosecuting counsel, Rotimi Oyedepo asked that trial commence immediately and that the case be given accelerated hearing..
However, counsel to accused: Fred Orbih (SAN), Ifedayo Adedipe (SAN), and S. I. Ameh (SAN) for first. Second and third accused respectively, informed the court of their applications for bail. But Rotimi said he needed time to respond to the applications and urged the court to remand the defendants in prison custody pending the consideration of the bail applications.
Justice Hassan ruled that “since the prosecution was only served bail application yesterday, and in the interest of justice, it will be fair if the prosecution is given the opportunity to respond”. He therefore ordered that the defendants be remanded in prison custody and adjourned to Friday, July 1, 2016 for hearing of bail applications. [myad]