Looters’ List: Lai Mohammed Faces Another Contempt Charge

By Admin on 12/06/2018

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A Federal High Court sitting in Lagos on Monday granted two former ministers, Chief Femi Fani-Kayode and Mrs. Nenadi Usman, leave to serve the Information Minister, Alh. Lai Mohammed, notice to appear before the court and explain why he should not be committed to prison for contempt.

The Information Minister had on April 1 published a so-called looters’ list following a press conference held in Lagos on March 30.

He had included in the list the names of Chief Fani-Kayode and Nenadi Usman although judgment has yet to be delivered in their matter since it is still pending in court.

Presided over by Justice Rilwan Aikawa, the court granted the applications following an ex-parte motion filed by defendants’ counsel, Messrs Ferdinand Orbih (SAN), Wale Balogun and K. C Nwofo, alleging contempt of court against the minister.

The applicants averred that the alleged contemnor (Mohammed) aware of the pendency of the suit, caused to be released and published a list of looters in several media platforms on April 1, 2018 where the name of the applicant featured prominently as having looted N1.5 billion.

Fani-Kayode, a former Aviation Minister, and Usman, a former Minister of State for Finance, and others, are currently facing trial before a Federal High Court in Lagos.

The Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) had brought a 17-count charge bordering on money laundering and a N4.6 billion fraud against the duo.

They were docked alongside one Yusuf Danjuma, a former Chairman of the Association of Local Governments of Nigeria (ALGON), and company, Jointrust Dimensions Nigeria Limited.

However, they all pleaded not guilty to the charges.

Supported with a 14-paragraph affidavit deposed to by a litigation assistant at Synergy Attorneys, Sesan Adebayo, the applicants made the following averments: “Other than the instant ongoing charge for which applicant is standing trial; having pleaded not guilty thereto, she has never been charged, tried or convicted of any criminal offence whether for looting public fund or any other crime.

“The said publication has prejudiced the applicant in the minds of the public and was intended or likely to interfere or obstruct fair administration of justice in this charge, where the complainant/respondent is yet to conclude its case.”



It was averred that the alleged contemnor, in a purported response to the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), named persons he called looters of the treasury at a press conference in Lagos.

“I believe that if the alleged contemnor is not made to show cause as to why he should not be charged for contempt and purge himself of the willful contempt of the authority of this court by committing him to prison, he will continue in his contemptuous activities thereby making mockery of the judicial process,” the applicants further averred.

In its ruling, the court ordered that the motion on notice dated May 2, 2018 and other accompanying processes be served on the alleged contemnor by substituted means.

“Effecting the service of the said processes on the alleged contemnor, Mr. Lai Mohammed, by serving it on a responsible senior public official at the Federal Ministry of Information and Culture, where the alleged contemnor sits as the Minister for Information and Culture, which address is at Plot 864, Cadastral Zone, Utako District, Abuja,” the court directed.

It maintained that the substituted service of the motion on notice and all other relevant process shall be deemed to be good and proper service on the alleged contemnor.

However, the court adjourned hearing in the suit till October 2.

Fani-Kayode and Usman’s trial could not proceed owing to the absence of EFCC’s witness in court.

Counsel for the prosecution, Idris Mohammed, had told the court that his witness, who was to be cross-examined, was indisposed due to ill-health.

He submitted: “Our witness, who also resides outside the court’s jurisdiction, is pregnant and following medical advice is currently on bed rest.

“On that premise, I urge the court to grant an adjournment.”

Lawyers to the applicants/accused persons, Orbih (SAN), Wale Balogun, and K. C Nwofo, did not oppose the application for adjournment.

 

 

 

Posted on June, 12 2018

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