The Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) on Friday abruptly stopped evidence by its 13th witness in the fraud trial of former Gov. Ayo Fayose of Ekiti State, saying that it appeared the witness was trying to be hostile.
The witness, Mr Adewale Aladegbola, who introduced himself as a former driver of a bullion van in Zenith bank, had testified that he didn’t have any operation on April 16, 2015.
“I didn’t have any operation; more so, the bullion van which I was using was grounded on that date,’’ he said.
EFCC counsel, Mr Rotimi Jacobs (SAN) had asked the witness to tell the court what transpired on April 16, 2015, in relation to cash operation in the bank.
The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports that the EFCC arraigned Fayose on an 11-count charge on Oct. 22, 2018, alongside a company Spotless Investment Ltd.
The former governor, however, pleaded not guilty, and was granted bail in the sum of N50 million with one surety in like sum.
EFCC opened its case on Nov. 19, 2018.
Led in evidence on Friday by Jacobs, Aladegbola testified that he worked in the Ado-Ekiti Branch of the bank as at 2015 and that his duty was cash picking.
The witness said that in absence of any cash to pick, he worked in the marketing section.
When asked about the vehicles he used for his job, he said he used two vehicles – a bullion van and an escort van.
When asked to tell the court what transpired between him and one `Alfa’ named Oputu Okiemute, the witness said that he got to know him in August.
“He told me about the cash they had picked and that we need to cover up as if we had gone to pick it up officially, and I asked him: `What do you want me to do now as you said I was not aware?’” he said.
At this point, Jacobs told the court that the witness was departing from the contents of his extra judicial statement to the EFCC.
“From the evidence this witness is giving, it appears he is trying to be hostile; he made a statement to the EFCC and now, he is trying to depart from the statement,” the counsel told the court.
He prayed the court for an adjournment to enable him to contemplate on the application to bring before the court on the development.
However, defence counsel, Messrs Ola Olanipekun (SAN) and Olalekan Ojo (SAN), objected to the request for adjournment.
According to them, departure of a witness from his extra judicial statement is not sufficient grounds for an adjournment.
Citing the provisions of Sections 230 of the Evidence Act, Ojo argued that the law required the prosecution in such a situation to cross-examine the witness.
Although, Justice Mojisola Olatoregun queried why prosecution could not instantly cross-examine the witness, she adjourned the case until May 14 for continuation of trial.
Earlier, the 12th prosecution witness, Mr Aliu Mukandaz, who is a Senior Manager with the Central Bank of Nigeria, told the court that N2.2 billion was paid into the Diamond bank account of Silva McNamara.
He said that the account was to fund any security agency’s account.
On the role he played in the disbursement, he told the court that he had no role but to disburse payments on the directives of the account signatories.
According to him, the payment was authorised by a former national security adviser, who was a signatory to the account.
NAN reports that EFCC accused Fayose and one Abiodun Agbele to have on June 17, 2014, unlawfully taken possession of the sum of N1.2 billion for purposes of funding his gubernatorial election campaign in Ekiti.
The anti-graft agency said that the sum formed part of crime proceeds.
It alleged that Fayose received a cash payment of five million dollars (about N1.8 billion) from the a former Minister of State for Defence, Sen. Musiliu Obanikoro, without going through any financial institution, saying that the sum exceeded the amount allowed by law.
It equally accused Fayose of retaining N300 million in his account and taking control of the aggregate sums of about N622 million which formed part of crime proceeds.
Fayose was also alleged to have procured De Privateer Ltd. and Still Earth Ltd. to retain in their accounts, aggregate sums of N851 million which formed part of crime proceeds.
The defendant was also alleged to have unlawfully used the aggregate sums of about N1.6 billion to acquire property in Lagos and Abuja.
The EFCC also said that the former governor unlawfully used N200 million to acquire a property in Abuja in 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, 2011.
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