The trial of former Governor of Ekiti State, Ayodele Fayose, before a Federal High Court sitting in Lagos was stalled on Monday, following the absence of the 12th prosecution witness, Musiliu Obanikoro.
The News Agency of Nigeria reported that Obanikoro, who is a former Minister of State for Defence, who began his evidence on January 31, is still undergoing cross-examination by the defence.
The former governor is being prosecuted by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission over alleged fraud and money laundering charges.
He 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 two sureties in like sum.
However, he was subsequently re-arraigned before Justice Chukwujekwu Aneke, on July 2, 2019, after the case was withdrawn from Justice Olatoregun, following EFCC’s petition.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 had since opened its case before Justice Aneke, and is still leading witnesses in evidence.
When the case was called on Monday, Rotimi Jacobs (SAN) announced an appearance for the prosecution, while Olalekan Ojo (SAN) appeared for the second defendant.
The prosecutor, who informed the court that the case was for continuation of cross-examination of Pw12, added that he was informed by the witness’ aide that he was out of the country.
Specifically, Jacobs urged the court to grant an adjournment to the already existing dates in June, although, the application for adjournment was not opposed by the defence counsel.
The second defence counsel, Ojo, however, said that if “the trend continues on the next adjourned date”, he would have no choice but to make the “necessary application”.
On his part, the first defence counsel informed the court of an application seeking leave of the court for medical travel of the defendant
He told the court that his application was dated May 5 but filed today.
The prosecutor did not oppose this application.
Justice Aneke consequently, granted the defendant’s application to travel for medicals.
He adjourned the case to the already existing dates of June 6 and June 8 for the continuation of trial
In December 2021 EFCC called its 11th witness, Mrs Joanne Tolulope, who had narrated how Abiodun Agbele, an associate of Fayose, bought properties worth several millions.
NAN also reported that during the trial before Justice Olatoregun, the prosecution had called witnesses, from several commercial banks, as well as Obanikoro.
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, (about N1.8 billion) from the then Minister of State for Defence, Senator 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 the 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 known also forms parts of crime proceeds.
The offence, the EFCC said, contravenes 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.