The Federal High Court in Lagos Monday heard how the N1.2billion allegedly given to former Ekiti State Governor Ayo Fayose from the Office of National Security Adviser (ONSA) was moved to the state.
The Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) is trying Fayose for allegedly receiving and keeping N1.2billion and $5million allegedly stolen from the ONSA.
Testifying before Justice Mojisola Olatoregun, the 11th prosecution witness, Mr. Sunday Alade, said he was the Zenith Bank Plc Akure Branch Manager in 2014 when the money was moved to his branch.
Led in evidence by prosecuting counsel Mr. Rotimi Jacobs (SAN), the witness said he got a call from his head of operations asking him to prepare to head for Akure Airport to receive cash from a customer.
“On the 17th of June 2014, I was in my office in Zenith Bank, Akure. I received a call from my head of operations Abiodun Oshodi that a customer would be coming to make a deposit into his account with the bank.
“He said in order to provide security, we should arrange for van bullion to go to the airport to pick the cash.
“After an hour, my head of operations Abiodun Oshodi came and said the customer had arrived. He introduced Abiodun Agbele as the customer.
“He said we should prepare to go to the airport. I asked for time to arrange for security, but they said that won’t be necessary as they had sufficient security. They came with MOPOL and some soldiers in a Hilux van,” Alade said.
The witness said he joined Oshodi and Agbele to the airport, along with the bullion van and the security men.
Alade said: “At the airport, we waited for a few minutes before the arrival of the aircraft. Three individuals came out of the aircraft.
“Two of them walked away. The remaining person introduced himself as O. Adewale. The cash was offloaded into the bullion van and we drove to Zenith Bank Akure,” Alade said.
He said when they arrived at the bank; the money was counted in his presence.
He said Oshodi, Adewale and Agbele were also present.
“The money was counted in our presence. It was N724million. We were informed that there was a balance. We went back to the airport and picked N494million.
“The total cash amounted to N1.219billion. Another aircraft brought the N494million.
“I gathered that the cash was lodged in three bank accounts – those of De-Privateer, Spotless Investment and Ayodele Fayose.
“I also understand some cash was taken away that day by Mr. Agbele.”
Asked who Adewale was, he said: “Adewale O. introduced himself as Obanikoro’s ADC (aide-de-camp).”
Asked if he knew those who walked away from the aircraft after it landed, the witness said: “One of them resembled Obanikoro. I never met him in person. But he resembled the person I saw on television and newspapers.”
Under cross-examination by defense counsel Ola Olanipekun (SAN) and Olalekan Ojo (SAN) (for Spotless Ltd, Fayose’s co-accused), the witness said he did not know where the money came from.
Asked if he knew what the money was meant for, he said: “Not at all.”
The witness said it took 10 days to process the cash.
In response to a question by Ojo as to whether he submitted a bulk cash register to EFCC on the transaction, the witness said “No.”
Ojo showed the witness a statement of the account belonging to Spotless Investment.
He was asked to identify entries for October 6, 2014, September 5, 2014, and December 6, 2014.
Alade said the entries showed the transfer of N11.173million each described as “mortgage repayment” and “mortgage loan liquidation”.
He added: “But I didn’t know anything about the transactions.” Ojo said: “Don’t worry.”
Before the trial began, Jacobs said he was involved in an accident and had to come to court in crutches.
He asked the court to allow him to take only one witness, but he did not disclose when or where he had the accident.
He was seen wearing a heavy bandage brace on his right foot with no footwear on.
There was also no indication that the case would be transferred to another judge.
EFCC Acting Chairman Ibrahim Magu reportedly wrote to the Chief Judge, asking that the case is withdrawn from Justice Olatoregun and re-assigned to another judge.
Magu was said to have expressed a lack of confidence in the judge.
But no reference was made to the purported letter to the CJ by Magu.
Fayose had pleaded not guilty when he was arraigned on an 11-count charge on October 22 last year.
EFCC said he and Agbele, facing a different charge, allegedly 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.”
EFCC said Fayose, on the same day, received a cash payment of $5million from former Minister of State for Defence Musiliu Obanikoro, without going through a financial institution.
The commission said the sum exceeded the amount authorized by law, thereby violating the Money Laundering Act.
Justice Olatoregun adjourned until May 10 and 14 for the continuation of trial.
Osun Polls: Rights Group Protests Inclusion of Justice Oyewole From Appeal Panel
The Human Rights Writers Association of Nigeria (HURIWA) has kicked against the alleged inclusion of Justice Joseph Oyewole as a member of Appeal Panel on Osun governorship petition, describing the judge as an interested party and a friend of the appellant.
In a petition sent to the President of the Appeal Court on Thursday and signed by the duo of Emmanuel Onwubiko and Zainab Yusuf, HURIWA called for the removal of the judge from the panel if truly he was added to the five man team.
The full details of the petition reads as follows
“We write as a human rights group that has consistently advocated for equity, fairness and fair hearing within the polity to bring to your attention a widely circulating report among members of All Progressive Congress (APC) in Osun state and beyond that they have imputed their strong ally and an interested party, Justice Oyewole as a judge on the Osun appeal panel. Many top APC leaders are bragging and boasting in Osun right now that they have pocketed the panel by having an ally of the appellant, Gboyega Oyetola as a panel member and this is beginning to raise tensions amongst the populace.
“We had conducted a search on who the said judge is and we found out many compromising facts that confirmed that Justice Oyewole as an interested party should not for the sake of justice and equity , be on the panel. They may have hidden the indicting facts from you but we have a duty to bring them to your attention to assist the temple of justice under your esteemed leadership.
“My lord kindly note the following:
-Justice Oyewole is a godson of Chief Bisi Akande, the former National Chairman of APC; they are from the same town, Ila Orangun;
-Justice Oyewole was a judge of Lagos State High Court during Aregbesola’s tenure as governor of Osun state ;
-When there was a vacancy in the Chief Justice of Osun state under Aregbesola, the governor pushed to import and elevate him above his senior to be made the state Chief judge in Osun state. The state erupted in protests and protestations against imposing a judge serving outside the state on his seniors in another state as the head of judiciary, forcing the governor to reconsider his plot;
-The arrow head of the movement to force Oyewole on the state as Chief Judge then was the appellant who was then the Chief of Staff of Rauf Aregbesola;
-When the plot failed because of mass resistance of Osun people, Aregbesola and the appellant succeeded using Osun slot to get Justice Oyewole elevated to the Court of Appeal, again above his peers and seniors.
-Since the commencement of the Osun governorship petition hearing, the judge has been fingered as the contact person for Gboyega Oyetola. APC members in the state are not tired of declaring that they have their man at the Appeal court;
-It is therefore troubling to listen to APC members now boasting in the state that they have their man right on the appeal panel. My Lord will not allow a man to sit in a matter in which he is an interested party.
“My Lord, Osun is currently in a state of fragile peace with the expectations of and faith of the people in the Judiciary as their last hope of getting justice. The controversial Osun election still remains a matter of national and international interest. The whole world is watching!
“We are are aware of the riot act you read out to chairmen and members of election tribunals early this year. We are in the know of your insistence that justice must be done without fear or favour. We are also conscious of your pedigree and antecedent as an incorruptible judge and leader of justice.
“It is with the preceding in mind that we humbly request the following:
-That you kindly resist the satanic pressure to compromise the integrity of the Appeal panel for the Osun Governorship Election;
-That you help Osun state to maintain subsisting peace which may be disrupted if an interested Justice is allowed to serve on his own case ;
-That you remove Justice Oyewole from the list if it is true as APC members in Osun state are bragging that he is one of the panel members;
-That you act as such on the weight of evidence adduced above in our paragraph 3;
-That no Judge from Osun state or with affinity with the state should serve on the panel to ensure neutrality and no conflict of Interest;
-That you sustain your insatiable quest for equity and fairness in justice administration by allowing justice to prevail in the case of Osun governorship election Appeal.
“My Lord,we urge you to urgently act on the above so as not to lend credence to the reprehensible boasts and assertions of APC members in Osun state and beyond that they have pocketed the Appeal panel. Justice Oyewole should be removed from the panel.”
Breaking: Tribunal Delivering Judgment On Onnoghen .
The CCT has dismissed the preliminary objection filed by Justice Onnoghen to challenging the jurisdiction of the tribunal.
The CCT has also dismissed the application by the former CJN accusing the tribunal chairman, Danladi Umar, to withdraw from further presiding over the trial on the grounds of bias.
The tribunal is now delivering judgment on the merit of the five counts.
More details soon…
EFCC Apprehends Justice Ofili-Ajumogobia as Judge Strikes Out Corruption Charges Against Her
Officials of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) have apprehended Justice Rita Ofili-Ajumogobia, a dismissed judge of the Federal High Court, after corruption charges against her were struck out.
Her arrest took place on the premises of an Ikeja High Court, Lagos, on Tuesday.
The News Agency of Nigeria reports that about 10 officials of the EFCC surrounded Ofili-Ajumogobia as she attempted to leave the courtroom at 10.24 a.m. after the ruling by Justice Hakeem Oshodi.
Upon sighting the officials, the judge made a hasty retreat and went back upstairs into Justice Oshodi’s courtroom to seek the protection of the court from the EFCC officials.
Justice Oshodi, when notified about the development, said there was nothing he could do, as “the file had been closed.”
The embattled former judge and her husband who was with her, were observed frantically making various phone calls.
The EFCC officials however allowed Ofili-Ajumogobia’s co-defendant, Mr. Godwin Obla, SAN, to exit the court premises.
Immediately Justice Oshodi’s court rose, Ofili-Ajumogobia was apprehended at 11.47 a.m. by some EFCC officials who whisked her away in a white Hilux van with Abuja number plate BWR637AT.
NAN reports that earlier, Justice Oshodi, in a ruling, had struck out the 31 counts filed by the EFCC against Ofili-Ajumogobia and Obla on the grounds that the court lacked jurisdiction to hear the suit.
The judge ruled that, based on the judicial precedent set by the case of Justice Nganjiwa Vs FRN, the EFCC had “jumped the gun” in filing the first amended charge.
Justice Oshodi noted that the anti-graft commission had not followed the procedures set by the National Judicial Council in disciplining erring judicial officers.
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