Absence of witnesses stalls Fayose’s trial

Absence of witnesses stalls Fayose’s trial

Fayose and EFCC officials in court

A Federal High Court in Lagos, on Tuesday, further adjourned until July 4, continuation of trial of a former Governor of Ekiti, Ayodele Fayose, charged with money laundering and fraud.

The trial, which was earlier scheduled for continuation, was further adjourned due to unavailability of  prosecution witnesses.

Fayose is being prosecuted by Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, EFCC, for N6.9 billion fraud and money laundering.

When the case was called on Tuesday, Mr Rotimi Jacobs (SAN), announced appearance for prosecution.

Messrs U.U. Njoku and Olalekan Ojo (SAN) respectively announced appearance for Fayose (first defendant) and his company, Spotlight Investment Ltd. which is second defendant.

Jacobs informed the court that two prosecution witnesses, billed to testify on Tuesday, were unavailable.

According to him, prosecution’s 12th witness was unavailable due to political party primary election while the other witness was occupied with another matter.

He prayed the court to grant an adjournment, saying that he had already informed the defence team of the development.

Both defence counsel  did not object to the request for adjournment.

Justice Chukwujekwu Aneke consequently further adjourned the case for continuation of trial.

Fayose was first arraigned on October 22, 2018, before Justice Mojisola Olatotegun, alongside his company, Spotless Investment Ltd. on an 11-count charge.

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

The former governor was, however, re-arraigned before Justice Chukwujekwu Aneke on July 2, 2019, after the case was withdrawn from Justice Olatoregun, following EFCC’s petition.

He also pleaded not guilty before Aneke, and was allowed to continue on the earlier bail.

At the last adjourned date in December 2021, EFCC called its 11th witness, Mrs Joanne Tolulope, who narrated how Abiodun Agbele, an associate of Fayose, allegedly  illegally bought property worth several millions of Naira.

During trial before Olatoregun, EFCC called witnesses from several commercial banks, as well as a former Minister of State for Defence, Sen. Musiliu Obanikoro.

According to the charge, on June 17, 2014, Fayose and  Agbele illegally took possession of N1.2 billion for purposes of funding his gubernatorial election campaign in Ekiti.

Fayose allegedly received cash payment of five million dollars (about N1.8 billion) from Obanikoro without going through any financial institution.

He was also alleged to have retained the sum of N300 million in his account and illegally took control of the aggregate sum of about N622 million.

Fayose was also alleged to have procurred De Privateer Ltd. and Still Earth Ltd. to unlawfully  retain the aggregate sum of N851 million.

Besides, the defendant was alleged to have illegally used about N1.6 billion to acquire property in Lagos and Abuja.

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 formed crime proceeds.

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, 2011.

Source: NAN

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