Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) on Monday presented its 11th witness in a case of alleged money laundering it preferred against former Governor Ayodele Fayose of Ekiti.
The witness, Mr Sunday Alade, was the Akure Branch Manager of a first generation bank in 2014 when N1.2 billion was allegedly moved to the branch.
The EFCC arraigned Fayose on an 11-count charge of money laundering on October 22, 2018, alongside a company, Spotless Investment Ltd.
He pleaded not guilty to the charge and was granted bail in the sum of N50 million with one surety in like sum.
The EFCC opened its case on Nov. 19, 2018. On January 21, 2018, the commission called its fifth witness, Senator Musiliu Obanikoro, a former Minister of State for Defence.
Also, recall that it was reported that the EFCC seeking the transfer of the trial from Justice Mojisola Olatoregun to another judge.
In a petition dated March 21, 2019, and addressed to the Honourable Chief Judge of the Federal High Court, Justice A. Abdul-Kafarati, the EFCC in a letter signed by its acting chairman, Ibrahim Magu, had alleged bias against the trial judge.
But this request seems not to have been granted with the same judge, Justice Olatoregun presiding over the matter in court on Monday.
Led in evidence on Monday by EFCC counsel, Rotimi Jacobs (SAN), Alade testified that he received a telephone call from the bank’s head of operations then, asking him to head to the Akure Airport to receive an amount of money from a customer.
“On June 17, 2014, I was in my office when I received a call from my Head of Operations, Abiodun Oshodi, saying that a customer would be coming to make a deposit into his account with the bank.
“He said in order to provide security, we should arrange for a bullion van to go to the airport to pick the cash.
“After an hour, my Head of Operations, Abiodun Oshodi, came and said the customer had arrived. He introduced Abiodun Agbele as the customer.
“He said we should prepare to go to the airport; I asked for time to arrange for security but they said that won’t be necessary as they had sufficient security. They came with MOPOL (mobile policemen) and some soldiers in a Hilux van,” Alade testified.
The witness said that he accompanied Oshodi and Agbele to the airport, along with the bullion van and security men.
Alade said: “At the airport, we waited for a few minutes before the arrival of the aircraft. Three individuals came out of the aircraft.
“Two of them walked away. The remaining person introduced himself as O. Adewale.
“The cash was offloaded into the bullion van, and we drove to the bank.”
He testified that when they arrived at the bank, the money was counted in his presence, adding that Oshodi, Adewale and Agbele were also present.
“The money was counted. It was N724 million. We were informed that there was a balance. We went back to the airport and picked N494 million.
“The total cash amounted to N1.219 billion. Another aircraft brought the N494 million. I gathered that the cash was lodged into three bank accounts – those of De-Privateer, Spotless Investment and Ayodele Fayose.
“I also understand some cash was taken away that day by Mr Agbele,” he told the court.
When asked by the prosecution counsel, who Adewale was, the witness said, “Adewale O. introduced himself as Obanikoro’s ADC.”
Asked if he knew those who walked away from the aircraft when it landed, the witness said, “One of them resembled Obanikoro. I never met him in person, but he resembled the person I saw on television and newspapers.”
Under cross-examination by defence counsel, Mr Ola Olanipekun (SAN) and Olalekan Ojo (SAN), the witness said that he was not aware of where the money came from.
On whether he knew what the money was meant for, the witness said, “Not at all.”
The witness said it took 10 days to process the cash.
In response to a question by Ojo as to whether he submitted a bulk cash register to EFCC on the transaction, the witness said “No.”
Ojo showed the witness a statement of account belonging to Spotless Investment.
He was asked to identify entries for October 6, 2014, September 5, 2014, and December 6, 2014.
Alade said the entries showed the transfer of N11.173million each described as “mortgage repayment” and “mortgage loan liquidation.”
He added: “But I didn’t know anything about the transactions.” Ojo said: “Don’t worry.”
Justice Olatoregun adjourned the case until May 10, for the continuation of trial.
According to the EFCC, on June 17, 2014, Fayose and one Agbele allegedly took possession of N1.2 billion for the purpose of funding his gubernatorial election campaign.
The EFCC said that the defendants reasonably ought to have known that the sum formed part of crime proceeds.
The anti-graft agency also accused Fayose of receiving a cash payment 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.
It also alleged that Fayose retained N300 million in his bank account and took control of about N622 million which he ought to have known was part of crime proceeds.
The EFCC equally claimed that Fayose unlawfully used N1.6 billion to acquire property in Lagos and Abuja, adding that he used N200 million to acquire a property in Abuja in the name of his elder sister, Moji Oladeji, which sum also formed crime proceeds.
The alleged offences contravene Sections 15(1), 15 (2), 15 (3), 16(2)(b), 16 (d), and 18 (c) of the Money Laundering Prohibition Act, 2011.
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