A Federal High Court in Lagos barred a lawyer, Mr. Vitalis Ahaotu, from further prosecuting former Minister of Aviation, Chief Femi Fani-Kayode, for alleged money laundering charges.
Justice Rita Ofili-Ajumogobia, who gave the order on Tuesday, however declined request by Fani-Kayode to strike out the charges preferred against him.
Ahaotu had, until Monday, been representing Mr. Festus Keyamo’s law firm.
The firm is prosecuting Fani-Kayode on behalf of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission.
The EFCC in December 2008 charged Fani-Kayode with 47 counts of money laundering for allegedly using above N500m without going through a financial institution.
The judge held that Ahaotu could not continue to prosecute the accused having failed to present the fiat empowering Keyamo Chamber to take up the case on behalf of the Attorney-General of the Federation.
She also said there was the need for Keyamo to present the fiat in order to proceed with the case.
The judge said, “There is a doubt as to the existence, yet of the fiat by the Attorney-General of the Federation to prosecute the accused for the alleged money laundering charges. That (the fiat) has not been exhibited.
“Mr. Vitalis Ahaotu has submitted that Mr. Festus Keyamo has been given the fiat to prosecute the case. That fiat has not been tendered in this court.
“The fiat has not been tendered and for this reason Mr. Vitalis Ahaotu cannot continue to represent the Federal Republic of Nigeria in this case.”
She also ordered the Deputy Chief Registrar of the court to, within three days, write the AGF, Mr. Mohammed Adoke, for him to “settle the appearance of the complainant” in the case.
Declining Mr. Wale Akoni (SAN), Fani-Kayode’s counsel’s request to strike out the charge, Ofili-Ajumogobia, held that the charge was duly authorised by an agent of government.
Akoni had argued that, in the absence of the fiat, it implied that the charge as “currently constituted” was incompetent.
The judge adjourned the matter till July 8 for mention.