Lukman Olabiyi, Lagos
The Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) has opened its case against former Governor of Ekiti State Ayodele Fayose before Justice Chukwujekwu Aneke of the Federal High Court in Lagos, over an alleged N3.3 billion fraud.
Fayose was on July 2 re-arraigned alongside his company, Spotless Limited, before the judge on an 11-count charge of money laundering and fraud.
He had pleaded not guilty to the offence.
Fayose’s and company’s re-arraignment followed the case’s transfer from the former trial judge, Justice Mojisola Olatoregun, by the immediate past Chief Judge of the Federal High Court, Justice Adamu Abdul-Kafarati.
At Monday’s proceedings, the EFCC called its first witness, Dr Lawrence Akande, who was a South West zonal Head of Zenith Bank Plc.
On cross-examination by EFCC lawyer Adebisi Adeniyi, the witness testified that he had received a call from the ex Governor sometime in June 2014 for a business transaction to be carried out in Ondo.
He said he later directed one Biodun Oshode, who was at the time based in Akure, the Ondo State capital, as the zonal head to handle the transaction.
The witness stated that the former Governor had three different accounts with the bank, one of which was in his (Fayose’s) name; the other two being company accounts, namely Spotless and De-Privateer, respectively.
“I knew the first defendant (Fayose). In June 2014, I was called by him that there would be a business transaction on his account and that it would be in Akure,” Akande said in his testimony.
“At that point, I called Biodun Oshode, who is based in Akure as the zonal head to handle the transactions,” he added.
While being cross-examined by Fayose’s lawyer, Ola Olanipekun (SAN), the witness disclosed that he had known Fayose prior to his discussion with him over the phone, and that he even had the privilege of seeking his patronage as a customer of Zenith Bank.
He said he had sought Fayose as a client because he knew him as a high net worth individual through which he could get sufficient deposit into the bank.
The witness said that Fayose did not mention the amount involved in the transaction during their phone conversation.
Responding to a question from Spotless Ltd’s lawyer, Olalekan Ojo (SAN), Akande said apart from his recollection about the phone call he received from Fayose, every other thing he wrote in the statements he made to the EFCC were based on what he was told.
Further hearing in the trial continues Tuesday, October 22.
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 State, which sum they reasonably ought to have known formed part of criminal proceeds.
Fayose was alleged to have received a cash payment of the sum of $5 million (about N1.8 billion) from a former Minister of State for Defence, Senator Musiliu Obanikoro, without going through any financial institution, and which sum exceeded the amount allowed by law.
He was also alleged to have retained the sum of N300 million in his bank account and took control of the aggregate sums of about N622 million, which sum he ought to have known formed part of criminal proceeds.
The former Governor was also alleged to have procured De Privateer Ltd and Still Earth Ltd to retain the aggregate sums of N851 million in his bank account, which they reasonably ought to have known formed part of criminal proceeds.
He is also alleged to have used the aggregate sums of about N1.6 billion to acquire property in Lagos and Abuja, which sums he reasonably ought to have known formed part of criminal proceeds.
Another allegation states that he had 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 criminal 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.