A Federal High Court in Abuja on Wednesday adjourned the trial of Mr Abiodun Agbele, a former aide of former Ekiti State Governor, Ayodele Fayose.
The adjournment followed the application for more time by the defence team, which objected to the cross-examination of the fifth prosecution witness (PW5) and former Head of Cash in Transit at Diamond Bank Plc, Damola Otuyalo, on exhibits AA14, AA15 and AA16.
Agbele is being prosecuted by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) on allegation of money laundering to the tune of N1.2 billion.
A representative of the counsel to the first defendant had argued that he has not sighted the document before and has no idea of what it contained.
According to a statement by the EFCC Head of Media and Publicity, Mr Wilson Uwujaren, counsel to the third defendant, Olalekan Ojo, aligned with that of the first defendant.
They both prayed the court to give them time to study the document in order to structure their cross-examination in line with the content of the new evidence.
Justice Nnamdi Dimgba, however, advised the defence counsels to examine the document as it was only two pages.
“You are generals in this field; I don’t see why a two-page document will require an adjournment,” he said.
The judge then stood down the trial to enable the defence to go through the documents.
On resumption, the EFCC said the defence counsel stood their ground not to continue with the cross-examination.
They stated that the input of the lead defence counsel Mike Ozekhome would be needed in framing questions for cross-examination on the new document.
The court has adjourned the case until December 2 for hearing.
The former Governor of Ekiti State, Ayodele Fayose has been re-arraigned and granted permission to travel abroad.
Fayose was re-arraigned on Tuesday before Justice Chukwujekwu Aneke of the Federal High Court Sitting in Lagos.
The re-arraignment follows the re-assignment of the case to Justice Aneke after the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) expressed loss of confidence in Justice Mojisola Olatoregun, who was previously handling it.
Fayose was first arraigned last October 22 on an 11-count charge of receiving and keeping N1.2billion and $5million stolen funds from the office of National Security Adviser (ONSA) contrary to the Money Laundering Act.
He was arraigned alongside a company, Spotless Investment Limited.
At the proceedings on Tuesday, the charges were read again to Mr Fayose and he pleaded not guilty.
His counsel, Ola Olanipekun (SAN) then applied that he should be allowed to continue to enjoy the bail earlier granted by Justice Olatoregun.
The EFCC counsel, Adebisi Adeniyi raised no objections and Justice Aneke subsequently admitted the former governor to bail on the terms and conditions earlier granted by Justice Olatoregun.
Recall that the court had granted Fayose bail in the sum of N50 million with two sureties in like sum.
The judge had also ordered that the former governor must deposit his passport with the court and must not travel out without the court’s permission.
At proceedings today, Justice Aneke ordered the release of Fayose’s Passport to enable him travel to South Africa for medical treatment.
The judge gave this order after considering an application filed by the former governor to that effect.
Justice Aneke directed that Fayose must return the Passport to the court’s deputy registrar on or before September 16.
He then fixed September 16 to 19 for trial.
The former governor is facing trial in connection with the sums of N1.299 billion and $5.3 million allegedly allocated to him by the Office of the National Security Adviser (ONSA) from N4.65 billion slush fund allegedly shared by the ONSA.
Already the EFCC has lined up 22 witnesses, in proof of its case against Fayose and his company, Spotless Limited, which is the second defendant, in the case.
The witnesses include: Senator Musiliu Obanikoro, Alex Otti, Ayotunde Owope, Salisu Shuaibu, Jamilu Uba, Imisi Ilesanmi John, Adekunle Adetimehin, Joseph Mechleb, Joseph Ghossen, Mechleb Maroun and Patrick Nimidam.
Also lined up to testify are a Representative of Diamond Bank Plc and a Representative of Zenith Bank, as well as three operatives of the EFCC, Abubakar Madaki, Alexander Precious, Usman Alli, Jackson Edet and Nura Buhari.
Former Governor of Ekiti State, Mr Ayodele Fayose was on Friday re-arraigned before the Federal High Court in Lagos.
He is being arraigned by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) on 11 counts bordering on criminal breach of trust, theft and money laundering of N2.2bn against his firm, Spotless Limited.
At Friday’s proceedings, Fayose’s counsel, Wole Olanipekun (SAN), informed the court of an application seeking that the matter be returned to the former trial judge, Justice Olatoregun.
Meanwhile, the counsel for the second defendant, Olalekan Ojo (SAN), in his statement said the transfer of the case to another judge by the Chief Judge was a “rape on the rule of law”, adding that the defendants have been foisted with the situation of total helplessness.
The counsel for the EFCC informed the court that the arraignment of the ex-governor could not go on as he was being investigated in other matters.
Thereafter, Justice Aneke upheld the prayer of the EFCC and adjourned the case till July 2.
The Chief Judge of the Federal High Court, Justice Adamu Abdu-Kafarati has granted the request of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) and re-assigned the trial of the immediate past governor of Ekiti State, Ayodele Fayose.
Before the transfer, the EFCC had called 13 out of the 15 witnesses it listed, in the trial, which started last year November at the Federal High Court, Lagos and has enjoyed accelerated hearing.
The trial will now commence afresh before Justice Chuwkujekwu Aneke following the transfer of the case from the courtroom of Justice Mojisola Olatoregun.
By a letter dated May 23, 2019, and addressed to Justice Olatoregun, Justice Abdu-Kafarati wrote;
“I refer to the petition of EFCC on this case and your Lordships comments thereto.
“It is apparent that the prosecution has lost confidence in the judge trying this case and justice must not only be done but must be seen to have been done, I hereby transfer this case to Hon. Justice C. J. Aneke for hearing.”
The letter was copied to Justice Aneke, the acting EFCC Chairman, Ibrahim Magu, and the Deputy Chief Registrar, Litigation of the court, Ms. Clement Ende.
By a petition dated March 21, 2019, and signed by Magu, the EFCC had asked Justice Abdu-Kafarati to transfer the trial to another judge of the court.
Magu noted that EFCC was withdrawing its confidence in the trial judge, Justice Olatoregun after an altercation between her and the EFCC counsel, Mr Rotimi Jacobs in open court on the 20th of March, 2019.
On the said day, Justice Olatoregun was said to have engaged in unrestrained, unprovoked, and unwarranted vituperations against the prosecuting counsel which the petition says are indicative of the fact that she has an axe to grind with Mr Jacobs and the EFCC.
The petition said further that with this recent attitude, hostility and intimidation, the judge has confirmed the fears and doubts of the Civil Society Organisations and has made the commission agree with them that it cannot get justice on the case in her court.
The petition concluded by saying that, it is obvious that Justice Olatoregun cannot dispassionately and transparently try the case and the EFCC is constrained to state that it has lost confidence in her ability to do so. The EFCC, therefore, requests a transfer of the case to another judge of the court for trial
In his reaction to the EFCC’s move, Fayose’s counsel, Ola Olanipekun (SAN) had said the petition was misconceived, unsustainable and frivolous.
He described the petition as a subtle attempt to intimidate and stampede the court into doing what EFCC liked or wanted in disregard of provisions of the Administration of Criminal Justice Act (ACJA) 2015 and the right of the first defendant, Fayose to expeditious hearing of his case, as well as the need to avoid wasting public funds and scarce judicial time on de-novo trial.
No party in a criminal case should be allowed to choose or determine the Judge to hear its or his case. Granting such a request for transfer will constitute a dangerous precedent, which will imperil the much-cherished independence of the judiciary as the bastion of the rule of law, he said.
Olanipekun argued further that the petition requesting transfer of the part-heard criminal case in which prosecution had already called 10 witnesses is legally misconceived having regard to provisions of Section 98(2) of the ACJA 2015 and the recent Court of Appeal decision in the case of F.R.N V. LAWAN (2018) LPELR-43973 (C-A).
Fayose is on trial for allegedly receiving and keeping N1.2billion and $5million allegedly stolen from the Office of National Security Adviser (ONSA) contrary to the Money Laundering Act.
He had pleaded not guilty when he was arraigned on an 11-count charge last October 22.
The EFCC said Fayose and Biodun Agbele, who is facing a different charge, allegedly took possession of N1, 219,000, 000 on June 17, 2014, to fund the former governors 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 Obanikoro, without going through a financial institution, the sum having exceeded the amount authorised by law.
Ekiti State Governor, Dr Kayode Fayemi, has nullified all employments made by the administration of former Governor Ayodele Fayose from July 2018.
The commissioner for Information, Mr Muyiwa Olumilua, announced this at a press conference held on Wednesday in Ado, the Ekiti State capital.
According to him, the state government condemned the ‘last minute’ employments made by the past administration.
Olumilua that the employments lacked due process and were hurriedly done after Fayemi won the governorship election in the state last year.
“All appointments made after the governorship election of July 2018, an exercise found to have violated due process, are hereby cancelled and declared null and void,” he said.
The government also placed conditions on other employments dated before the election, saying they would be subject to review and availability of vacancy.
“All 272 officers employed by the former Governor Fayose led administration who are still on manual payroll shall be considered for absorption into the civil service, but on a case-by-case basis and absorption will be conditional subject to availability of vacancies,” the commissioner revealed.
He added that those employed during Fayemi’s first tenure, whose appointments were terminated by the Fayose administration, would also be subjected to same conditional consideration.
Olumilua explained that this was in line with an earlier warning by Governor Fayemi before his swearing-in that appointments made after the governorship election would be discarded.
The Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) has accused Justice Mojisola Olatoregun of bias in the case involving the immediate past governor of Ekiti State, Mr Ayodele Fayose.
In a petition dated March 21, 2019 and signed by its acting Chairman, Mr Ibrahim Magu, the anti-graft agency asked the Chief Judge of the Federal High Court, Justice Adamu Abdu-Kafarati to transfer the trial to another judge.
Magu recalled that when the case was filed in 2018 and Justice Olatoregun who is the administrative judge of the court in Lagos assigned it to herself despite being from the same state with Fayose.
According to him, despite protests from many civil society organizations, the Justice Olatoregun still carried on with the case.
“Advocates for Anti-corruption and Sustainability of Good Governance in Nigeria, wrote a petition against the judge which petition was subsequently forwarded to the EFFC’s prosecuting counsel, Mr Rotimi Jacobs (SAN), for his comments and he replied expressing confidence in Justice Olatoregun,” the petition read in part.
Magu noted that EFCC is withdrawing its confidence in the trial judge after the altercation between her and the EFCC counsel in open court on the 20th of March, 2019.
On the said day, Justice Olatoregun was said to have engaged in “unrestrained, unprovoked, and unwarranted vituperations” against the prosecuting counsel which the petition says are indicative of the fact that she has an axe to grind with Mr Jacobs and the EFCC.
The petition stated further that the judge has confirmed the fears and doubts of the Civil Society Organisations and has made the commission agree with them that it cannot get justice on the case in her court.
“It is obvious that Justice Olatoregun cannot dispassionately and transparently try the case and the EFCC is constrained to state that it has lost confidence in her ability to do so. The EFCC, therefore, requests a transfer of the case to another judge of the court for trial,” Magu stated.
Former Ekiti State Governor, Ayodele Fayose has expressed delight at the nullification of the All Progressives Congress (APC) in the 2019 elections in Zamfara State by the appeal court.
Fayose was quoted in a statement on Monday, through his Media Aide, Lere Olayinka, that, “Hope appears not lost for democracy in Nigeria after all.”
Fayose urged the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) to demonstrate courage by presenting certificates of return to the People’s Democratic Party (PDP) governorship, National Assembly and State House of Assembly candidates in Zamfara State.
“Those who cannot play by their own rules and run the affairs of their own party in accordance with laid down rules should not be rewarded with elective positions. INEC must, therefore, act decisively by halting the presentation of a certificate of return to the impostor termed APC governorship candidate, withdraw it from the National Assembly candidates and hand the certificates to the PDP candidates who are lawful winners of the elections.”
He, however, congratulated the PDP candidates in Zamfara State, especially the governorship candidate, Bello Matawalle, saying “those who believed that they can impose their wish on the people of Zamfara State will be defeated ultimately. This is a great victory for democracy. It is a sign that all hope is not lost.”
“One is therefore relieved that the judiciary is giving Nigerians hope that all will still be well with democracy in the country and I salute those courageous judges of the Appeal Court and others who have refused to be boxed into submission,” Fayose said.
After years of trading accusations Governor Kayode Fayemi of Ekiti and the immediate past governor, Ayodele Fayose put their differences aside on Wednesday.
Both politicians were seen happily embracing each other at the Obafemi Awolowo Prize for Leadership which took place at Habour Point, Victoria Island Lagos.
They embraced after Fayemi delivered a speech in honour of the celebrant of the day and awardee, Chief Afe Babalola, who is the third recipient after nobel laureate professor Wole Soyinka and former president of South Africa, Thabo Mbeki.
“There must be something about Ekiti that fully prepared Chief Babalola for this award. We are known as the fountain of knowledge in Ekiti,” he said while recognising the presence of the previous governor, Fayose.
I join His Excellency, Prof @ProfOsinbajo in thanking the Almighty God for saving him and his team from any fatality in the unfortunate incident in Kogi State. I urge relevant authorities to conduct due diligence checks on all govt owned aircraft to prevent a re-occurrence.
I rejoice with VP Yemi Osinbajo and thank God for keeping him alive today. I wish him quick recovery from whatever minor injuries he could have sustained in the crash. For me, sanctity of life goes beyond politics and I pray that God will continue to safeguard his life.
Fayose and his company, Spotless, are facing 11 charges of conspiracy and money laundering.
The Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) had also accused Fayose of benefitting from the five billion dollars slush funds allocated to the office of National Security Adviser by the Goodluck Jonathan administration.
Justice Mojisola Olatoregun had on October 24, granted bail to the former Governor to the tune of N50 million with two sureties who must issue a N50 million bond in a reputable bank as well as possess three years tax clearance.
She had also directed that the former governor deposits his international passport with the court.