1st December, 2021
By Sandra Umeh/Lagos
The trial of former Governor of Ekiti, Ayodele Fayose, on Wednesday resumed at a Federal High Court in Lagos with prosecution giving more evidence.
Prosecution called its 11th witness, Mrs Joanne Tolulope, who narrated how one Abiodun Agbele, an associate of Fayose, allegedly bought property worth N1.3 billion in four months in 2015.
Fayose is being prosecuted by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) for alleged N6.9 billion fraud and money laundering.
He was first arraigned on Oct. 22. 2018, before Justice Mojisola Olatotegun.
The former governor was arraigned alongside his company, Spotless Investment Ltd., on 11 counts bordering on fraud and money laundering.
He had pleaded not guilty to the charge, and was granted bail on Oct. 24, 2018, in the sum of N50 million with sureties in like sum.
Fayose was re-arraigned before Justice Chukwujekwu Aneke on July 2, 2019, after the case was withdrawn from Olatoregun, following EFCC’s petition.
He also pleaded not guilty to the charge and was allowed to continue on the bail earlier granted him, while the case was adjourned for trial.
During examination of the witness on Wednesday by prosecutor, Mr Rotimi Jacobs (SAN), the witness told the court that Agbele bought four chalets from her company Still Earth Ltd. between March and July, 2015.
The witness, an in-house counsel for Still Earth Ltd., said that the company dealt in real estate and also renovated property.
She testified that sometime, from March to July 2015, her company was contacted by Agbele, via a phone call, to inquire if there were property available for sale.
“Incidentally, we had properties for sale; we discussed about Agbele’s availability for inspection.
“He came sometime in March 2015 to inspect the properties and requested for two chalets of three bedrooms and four bedrooms, respectively, and paid N575 million and some fractions for the property,” she said.
She said that in July 2015, Agbele approached the company and bought chalets for about N573 million.
“He also approached us to register the deed of assignment in the name of JJ Technical Services,” she added.
However, an attempt by the prosecutor to tender the deed of assignment as an exhibit was resisted by Fayose’s counsel, Mr Ola Olanipekun (SAN), who contested its admissibility.
Following the objection, the prosecution counsel sought to withdraw the document, saying that it could be tendered later in the trial.
On how the money was paid, the witness told the court that N800 million was deposited by De Privateer Ltd. into a bank account of Still Earth Ltd., adding that there was cash payment of N209 million by one Taofeek on the instruction of Agbele.
She testified that in January 2015, the sum of N105.7 million was received from Capital Field Investment and Trust Ltd., N39.5 million from Hoss Concept, while additional N40 million was received from De Privateer Ltd.
She added that in February 2015, De Privateer Ltd. paid N200 million while N132.5 million was paid by a company called Sam Chase.
The trial will continue on Thursday.
When the case was before Justice Olatoregun, prosecution called witnesses from some commercial banks as well as a former Minister of State for Defence, Sen. Musiliu Obanikoro.
According to the EFCC, on June 17, 2014, Fayose and one Abiodun Agbele illegally took possession of N1.2 billion for purposes of funding his gubernatorial election campaign in Ekiti.
The commission said that the defendants reasonably ought to have known that the sum formed part of crime proceeds.
It alleged that Fayose received cash payment of five million dollars (about N1.8 billion) from the then Minister of State for Defence, Obanikoro, without going through any financial institution.
The commission also said that the former governor unlawfully retained 300 million in his bank account and took control of the aggregate sums of about N622 million.
The EFCC added that the defendant unlawfully procured De Privateer Ltd. and Still Earth Ltd. to retain aggregate sums of N851 million.
Besides, the ex-governor was alleged to have unlawfully used aggregate sums of about N1.6 billion to acquire property in Lagos and Abuja.
He was also alleged to have illegally used N200 million to acquire a property in Abuja with the name of his elder sister, Moji Oladeji.
The alleged 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 of 2011.
The case has been adjourned till Thursday, December 2, 2021.