Absence of EFCC counsel stalls N6.9bn fraud trial of Fayose
A Federal High Court in Lagos, on Tuesday, adjourned until May 21, the ongoing criminal trial of former Governor of Ekiti State, Ayodele Fayose, facing N6.9 billion fraud charges.
The trial judge, Justice Mojisola Olatoregun, had stood down the case for one hour, to await the prosecutor, Mr Rotimi Jacobs (SAN), when it was first called at 1.00p.m.
After the court and defence counsel had waited for one hour and prosecutor still did not show up, the court adjourned the case until May 21, for continuation of trial.
Fayose was arraigned on an 11 counts charge, by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC), on Oct. 22, 2018, alongside a company, Spotless Investment Ltd.
He had pleaded not guilty to the charges, and the court had granted him bail in the sum of N50 million with one surety in like sum.
EFCC opened the case for the prosecution on Nov. 19, 2018 and is still leading evidence.
At the last adjourned date on May 10, the prosecutor had sought for an adjournment of the case, after it informed the court that its 13th witness, Adewale Aladegbola, had proved “hostile” in his testimony.
In spite of objections to the application for adjournment by defence, the court had granted the prosecution an adjournment to enable it decide and bring its proper application before the court, in relation to the hostile witness.
When the case was called on Tuesday, Messrs Ola Olanipekun (SAN) and Olalekan Ojo (SAN) had respectively announced appearances for the defendants.
Defence then informed the court that the prosecutor was absent and had not written any letter to them, and had urged the court to stand down the case for some time, to enable prosecutor attend court.
The matter was however, adjourned, after the stand down, yielded not result.
At the last date, the 13th witness for the prosecution, Adewale Aladegbola, had introduced himself as a former driver of a Bullion Van in Zenith bank, Ado-Ekiti branch as at 2015.
He had told the court that his area of duty was cash picking and in absence of cash to pick, he works in the marketing section.
When asked about the vehicles he used for his job, he had said he uses two vehicles namely: a Bullion Van and an Escort Van.
The prosecutor had then asked the witness to tell the court what transpired on April 16, 2015 in relation to cash operation in the bank and in response, the witness had said:
“I don’t have any operation; more so, the Bullion Van which I was using was grounded on that date,”
When asked to tell the court what transpired between him and one Alfa named Oputu Okiemute, he had said that he got to know the said Alfa in August.
“He told me about the cash they had picked and that we need to cover up as if we had gone to pick it up officially, and I asked him what do you want me to do now as you said I was not aware,” he had said
It was at this point, that the prosecutor informed the court that the witness was departing from the contents of his extra judicial statement made to the EFCC, and had sought an adjournment.
In the charge, Fayose and one Abiodun Agbele were said to have on June 17, 2014, taken possession of the sum of N1.2 billion, for purposes of funding his gubernatorial election campaign in Ekiti State, which sum they reasonably ought to have known formed part of crime proceeds.
Fayose was alleged to have received a cash payment of the sum of five million dollars, (about N1.8 billion) from the then Minister of State for Defence, Sen. Musiliu Obanikoro, without going through any financial institution and which sum exceeded the amount allowed by law.
He was also alleged to have retained the sum of N300 million in his Zenith bank account and took control of the aggregate sums of about N622 million which sum he ought to have known formed part of crime proceeds.
Fayose was alleged to have procured De Privateer Ltd and Still Earth Ltd, to retain in their accounts, the aggregate sums of N851 million which they reasonably ought to have known formed part of crime proceeds.
Besides, the defendant was alleged to have used the aggregate sums of about N1.6 billion to acquire properties in Lagos and Abuja, which sums he reasonably ought to have known formed part of crime proceeds.
The accused was also alleged to have used the sum of N200 million, to acquire a property in Abuja, in the name of his elder sister Moji Oladeji, which sum he ought to know also forms crime proceeds.
The offences contravened the provisions of Sections 15(1), 15 (2), 15 (3), 16(2)(b), 16 (d), and 18 (c) of the Money Laundering Prohibition Act, 2011.