N6.9bn Fraud: Absence of EFCC’s Witness Stalls Fayose’s Trial 

The ongoing trial of former Governor of Ekiti State, Ayodele Fayose, over alleged N6.9bn fraud money laundering was stalled on Friday due to the absence of prosecution witness, Aliyu Madaki.

Consequently, the trial judge, Justice Chukwujekwu Aneke, told the prosecutor for the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC), Mr. Rotimi Jacobs (SAN) to inform NAIJAONPOINT that the court has ordered his presence in court on March 22.

The judge fixed the date following the displeasure of defence counsel who argued that they have disengaged themselves from other commitments in order to be in court for the case, only for them to hear that NAIJAONPOINT did not come.

Fayose is being prosecuted by the EFCC alongside a company, Spotless Investment Ltd, on 11 counts bordering on N6.9 billion fraud and money laundering offences.

When the case was called on Friday, EFCC prosecutor, Jacobs, announced his appearance, while Messrs Ola Olanipekun (SAN) and Olalekan Ojo (SAN) appeared for the first and second defendants respectively.

In his submission, Jacobs informed the court that his 13th witness, Aliyu Madaki, who is to be cross examined by the defence, was held up in Jos and unable to attend court.

He also told the court that NAIJAONPOINT is no longer a staff of EFCC, and now resides in Nasarawa, adding that he was unable to make it to court today as he is in Jos presently.

Prosecution informed the court that NAIJAONPOINT had pleaded for another chance to be present on March 28, an already existing date given by the court, adding that NAIJAONPOINT no longer works with the EFCC

Jacobs, however, said he had just discovered that the court will be on Easter vacation by then, and he consequently, prayed for a further date .

Initially, the judge had fixed April 25 and 26 for continuation of the matter but the two defence counsel were not satisfied with the dates, insisting that at least a date should be fixed in March.

Second defence counsel, Olalekan Ojo (SAN), expressed displeasure at the absence of NAIJAONPOINT , stressing that the grounds for his absence from court is not cogent enough and that it showed great disrespect to the court.

“Nothing stops him from coming to Lagos from Jos where he presently is,” Ojo said.

He insisted that whatever issues preventing NAIJAONPOINT from attending court did not happen today and therefore, the prosecutor could not have kept silent till today before informing counsel.

In support of this position, first defence counsel, Olanipekun, also expressed dissatisfaction on the grounds that the prosecutor ought to treat the matter with the importance it deserved and inform counsel earlier.

Notwithstanding the position of defence counsel, the EFCC prosecutor Jacobs insisted that a date in March will not be sufficient for him to ensure attendance of NAIJAONPOINT , but the judge told the prosecutor to inform NAIJAONPOINT that it is an order from the court .

Consequently, the court fixed March 22 for cross examination and ordered the prosecutor to produce his witness on that date.

The court still maintained further dates of April 25 and 26 for continuation of trial.

Fayose was first arraigned on October 22. 2018, before Justice Mojisola Olatoregun, alongside his company, Spotless Investment Ltd, on 11 counts bordering on fraud and money laundering offences.

He had pleaded not guilty to the charges and was granted bail on October 24, 2018, in the sum of N50 million with sureties in like sum.

The defendant was, however, subsequently, re-arraigned before Justice Chukwujekwu Aneke, on July 2, 2019, after the case was withdrawn from Justice Olatoregun, following EFCC’s petition

He had also pleaded not guilty to the charges and was allowed to continue on the earlier bail granted, while the case was adjourned for trial.

The commission has since opened its case before Justice Aneke, and is still leading witnesses in evidence.

According to the charge, on June 17, 2014, Fayose and one Abiodun Agbele were said to have taken possession of the sum of N1.2 billion, for purposes of funding his gubernatorial election campaign in Ekiti, 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, from the then Minister of State for Defence, Sen. Musiliu Obanikoro, without going through any financial institution.

He was also alleged to have retained the sum of N300 million in his account and took control of the aggregate sums of about N622 million which sum he reasonably ought to have known formed part of crime proceeds.

Fayose was alleged to have procured De Privateer Ltd and Still Earth Ltd, to retain 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.

He 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 contravene 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.

Wale Igbintade