Former Aviation Minister, Femi Fani-Kayode told the court that he was coerced by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission to make his statement while he was in their custody.
Femi Fani-Kayode who is standing trial for an alleged fraud of N4.9bn, alongside Nenadi Usman; and Danjuma Yusuf, who are the first and third defendants, respectively, in the case, disowned their statements to the EFCC, contending that they made the statements under duress.
The defence counsel, Messrs Ferdinand Orbih (SAN), Norrison Quakers (SAN) and Clement Onwuenwuenor, urged the judge to order a trial-within-trial to test the voluntariness of the statements.
But the prosecuting counsel, Rotimi Oyedepo, maintained that the statements were voluntarily made by the defendants, adding that there was no need for a trial-within-trial.
As a result, Justice Rilwan Aikawa, sitting at the Federal High Court in Lagos, adjourned till May 31 for ruling.
The defendants are facing 17 counts bordering on conspiracy, unlawful retention of proceeds of theft and money laundering.
Fani-Kayode, who was the Director of Publicity of ex-President Goodluck Jonathan’s presidential campaign organisation for the 2015 election, was accused of conspiring with others to, directly and indirectly, retain various sums which the EFCC claimed they ought to have reasonably known were proceeds of crime.
In one of the counts, the defendants were accused of conspiring among themselves to “indirectly retain the sum of N1,500, 000,000.00 (N1.5bn) which sum you reasonably ought to have known forms part of the proceeds of an unlawful act to wit: stealing.”
The four were also accused of indirectly retaining N300m, N400m and N800m, all proceeds of corruption, according to EFCC.
Fani-Kayode was accused of directly using parts of the money at various times, including a N250,650,000.00, which he allegedly used between March 20 and 25, 2015.
Fani-Kayode was also accused of making a cash transaction of N24m with one Olubode Oke, said to still be at large, on February 12, 2015 “to Paste Poster Co of 125, Lewis Street, Lagos Island.”
The duo were said to have made the transaction without going through any financial institution, an act the EFCC claimed was contrary to sections 1(a) and 16(d) of the Money Laundering (Prohibition) (Amendment) Act, 2012, and punishable under Section 16(2)(b) of the same Act.
The defendants have pleaded not guilty.