* Ex-Minister Changes Name To Honour God For Victory
A Federal High Court, Lagos on Wednesday discharged and acquitted former Minister of Aviation, Mr. Femi Fani-Kayode, of a two-count charge of money laundering preferred against him by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC).
In her verdict, Justice Rita Offili-Ajumogobia, held that “the prosecution case is feeble” and that the EFCC through its counsel, Mr. Festus Keyamo, had “failed to prove the allegations against the accused person beyond reasonable doubt.”
In a swift reaction via a statement, Fani-Kayode attributed his victory to God, whom he proceeded to honour by effecting a change of his surname, Fani-Kayode, removing “Fani” – the Yoruba deity for divination – from his name, saying he wants to be known as “Olukayode,” “Olu” being Yoruba diminutive for “Oluwa” or “God.
Fani-Kayode, whose trial began in 2008 before Justice Ramat Mohammed, was arraigned by the EFCC for allegedly laundering about N100 million while he was minister of Culture and Tourism. The allegedly laundered sum was, however, reduced to N2.1million in November last year after Ofili-Ajumogobia dismissed 38 out of the 40-count levelled against Fani-Kayode for want of proof.
Keyamo, while urging the court to uphold the remaining two counts and convict Fani-Kayode, said the object of the charge was that Fani-Kayode transacted in cash sums above N500,000, which was the threshold stipulated by the Money Laundering (Prohibition) Act, saying Fani-Kayode had admitted making such transactions in a confessional statement to the EFCC.
After his acquittal, however, Fani-Kayode, in a lengthy statement produced below, stated:
“Ladies and gentlemen, I am delighted, humbled and relieved by this verdict. In the last seven years, I have been subjected to the most malicious, vicious, sinister, well-orchestrated, insidious and devastating form of political persecution and wickedness.
“The whole process almost destroyed my life, my family, my reputation, my health and my career. I thank God for his goodness, his mercy and for the fact that today, the whole nightmare has finally come to an end. Initially, I was accused of stealing N19.5bn of public funds when I was Minister of Aviation. It was thrown out by the courts. Then I was accused of stealing N6.5bn. It was thrown out by the courts. Then I was accused of laundering N200m. It was thrown out by the courts. Then I was accused of laundering N99m. It was thrown out by the courts. Finally, I was accused of laundering N1m and N1.1m respectively, and today, both of these charges have also been thrown out by the courts.
“I give thanks to God for today’s verdict. It is the doing of the lord and it is marvelous in our sight. Once again, he has proved that he is faithful and true and that he always honors his word. I wish to thank my family members, leaders of the Body of Christ, intercessors, pastors, political associates and friends who never doubted my innocence and who stood by me through thick and thin. I wish to thank my lawyers who worked so hard and so diligently over the last seven years throughout this case.
“I wish to thank the Nigerian judiciary for dispensing justice in an honest and God-fearing way and for refusing to be intimidated by anyone or guided by anything other than the evidence presented before them in this case. They dispensed justice with candor and fairness, and throughout the proceedings, they were fair to all, honest, courageous, professional and true. I thank them for refusing to send an innocent man to jail and for refusing to allow themselves to be used as tools for personal and vindictive vendettas or political persecution.
“This gruesome ordeal started seven years ago and throughout that period, it was grueling and difficult. They took seven years from me but they couldn’t break me or end my life. It was a very difficult period for both me and my family which came with enormous and unimaginable challenges, yet from day one I never doubted that I would be vindicated because God had assured me of it and I know the God that I serve. He never lies and He never fails. He said, through his Holy Spirit, that my innocence would speak for me and that he would fight this battle for me and he did. He said that he is the author and the finisher of my faith, my shield, my glory and the lifter of my head and he was. He has proved all that throughout my life and he has proved it once again with the verdict in this case. To him alone be all the glory.
“When the ordeal began seven years ago the Lord ministered that it would last for seven years but that in the end, I would be declared innocent, I would be vindicated and I would be delivered. Again he honored his word because the whole nightmare started on 1st of July 2008 when I was arrested in the premises of the Nigerian Senate after the public hearing on the N19.5 billion Aviation Intervention Fund. I was cleared of any wrongdoing in the administration of that fund by the Senate Committee on Aviation yet despite that, immediately after the sitting before the Committee, I was abducted and arrested in an unceremonious and shameful fashion and locked up by the Farida Waziri-led EFCC for 10 days and charged to a magistrate court in Abuja.
“Today, the 1st of July 2015, seven years to the day from that day when I was first arrested and first put into detention, I have been discharged and acquitted of all remaining charges by the courts. The Lord has, once again, honored his word, to him alone be the glory.
“As a mark of honor and respect for the Lord and as an everlasting testimony of my love for and dedication to him, I wish to make it known to the Nigerian public that as from today my name will be changed. It will no longer be David Oluwafemi Fani-Kayode but instead, it shall be David Oluwafemi Olukayode. Olukayode means “the Lord has brought me joy” and today he has done precisely that. As from this day, in honor of him and as a small tribute to my love for and total dependence on Him, that shall remain my family name.
“Once again, I give thanks to God for all that has happened to me and for this great deliverance. To him be all the glory.
“I swore that I would not leave the shores of Nigeria until this matter was finally brought to an end and the courts had pronounced my innocence. That was seven years ago. I kept faith with that oath and it gives me pleasure to tell you that now that the whole ordeal is over I shall be leaving the shores of my beloved country for the first time in seven years for a short holiday and a long overdue medical examination.
“They not only threw the whole book at me but also the entire kitchen sink but the Lord was with me. I stood on His words in Isaiah 50 v.7-9 and I never faltered or doubted Him even in the most difficult times. Now they know that I serve a mighty God who never forsakes His own. I thank the media for their constant support and attention and I thank the millions of Nigerian people that chose to believe in me and to keep faith with me throughout this ordeal. Once again, I give thanks to the Lord. God bless you all.
Chief Femi Fani-Kayode (Chief Oluwafemi Olukayode)
1st July, 2015
* Ex-Minister Changes Name To Honour God For Victory