The trial of a former Governor of Ekiti State, Ayodele Fayose, over alleged fraud could not go on as scheduled before the Federal High Court, Lagos, due to the prosecution counsel’s absence.
However, Justice Mojisola Olatoregun has fixed May 21, as new date for further trial of the ex-governor.
Justice Olatoregun fixed the date on Tuesday after waiting for over an hour, during which the case was stood down, for Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) counsel Mr Rotimi Jacobs, to make an appearance.
Fayose is on trial for allegedly receiving and keeping N1.2billion and $5million allegedly stolen from the Office of the National Security Adviser (ONSA) through a former Minister of State for Defence, Musiliu Obanikoro.
He was arraigned by the EFCC on an 11-count charge on October 22, 2018, alongside a company, Spotless Investment Ltd.
He pleaded not guilty and was granted N50 million bail with one surety in the like sum.
The EFCC opened its case on November 19, 2018.
At the last adjourned date on May 10, Jacobs obtained an adjournment, after telling the court that his 13th witness, Adewale Aladegbola, seemed to be hostile.
The court granted his prayer to enable the prosecution to decide on its next line of action.
At the commencement of proceedings, the ex-governor and his defence team were in court, but no member of the prosecution team was available.
Messrs Ola Olanipekun (and Olalekan Ojo, announced appearances for the defendants and informed the court that prosecution was absent and had not told them why.
Olanipekun said: “In the circumstances, we want to apply for a stand down, if my lord will graciously oblige them for one hour, to see if we can make contact with them.”
Ojo added: “I associate myself with the position of my learned brother for a stand down. I have not received a phone call or text message from Mr Jacobs.”
Justice Olatoregun granted their prayer, following which the matter was subsequently adjourned.
According to the EFCC, Fayose and Abiodun Agbele, who is facing a different charge, took possession of N1,219,000, 000 on June 17, 2014 to fund the former governor’s 2014 gubernatorial campaign.
The commission said Fayose “reasonably ought to have known” that the money “formed part of the proceeds of an unlawful act, to wit: criminal breach of trust/stealing.”
The agency said Fayose, on the same day, received a cash payment of $5million from Obanikoro, without going through a financial institution.
The commission said the sum exceeded the amount authorised by law, thereby violating the Money Laundering Act.