Estimated reading time: 13 minute(s)
The Economic and Financial Commission, EFCC has called its seventh witness in the alleged N2.2bn fraud trial of former Ekiti State governor, Ayodele Fayose.
At the Federal High Court sitting in Lagos, the witness, a banker, Adedamola Otuyalo, who heads the Cash in Transit Services of (the now-defunct) Diamond Bank told Justice Chukwujekwu Aneke how the bank moved the sum of N1.2bn which he claims was paid to the Former Minister of State for Defence, Musiliu Obanikoro.
Led in evidence by the EFCC Prosecutor, Rotimi Jacobs (SAN), the witness said, “On 16 June 2014, I got instruction from my director, Mr. Premier Oiwoh, to make payment of NGN1.2 billion to some beneficiaries listed on a document”.
He later asked that the money be moved to the airport where the beneficiaries were said to be waiting.
According to the witness, “the money was arranged in big cash bags called jumbo bags. The customers I was given instruction to pay were about 5 or 6 – these were the named beneficiaries of the N1.2b”.
“After receiving instructions to move the cash to the airport, we moved the cash to the private wing of the Lagos airport. We could not access the wing because we needed security clearance”.
“After some time, we were granted access to go in. The person that accessed our clearance we later identified as Gbolahan Obanikoro, the son of the former Minister, Musiliu Obanikoro”.
“When we were processed in, someone I later identified to be Musliu Obanikoro came to meet us. My director, Premier Oiwoh called my line to identify Obanikoro and spoke to him through my line as a way of confirming the person after which he asked me to hand over the cash to him”.
“The cash was handed over to him and I reported to my director. I know that the cash was moved via aircraft – about 2 or 3 aircraft. The cash was offloaded from the bullion van to the aircraft. After the loading, we left the place and I reported to my director that we had carried out his instructions”
The witness also told the court that he was asked to hand over the cash to Obanikoro who was not listed as a beneficiary in the document.
He identified the account holder listed in the document (Exhibit E) as Sylvan Mcnamara.
The EFCC has previously linked the company to Sen. Musiliu Obanikoro.
Under cross-examination by Fayose’s counsel, Ola Olanipekun SAN, the witness admitted that even though he got the instruction from his boss, he did not know the details or the technicalities involved.
Reading from documents placed before the court, he listed the 6 beneficiaries of the N1.2bn as (1) Santuraki Bello – N200m;
(2) Yusuf Bulama – N120m;
(3)Chimenum Njoku – N250m;
(4) Josiah Moses – N280m;
(5) Abubakar Sadiq Zama – N200m;
(6)Franklin Tolani – N150m.
He also testified that even though Musliu Obanikoro and his co-defendant, a company, Spotless Investment Limited were not listed as beneficiaries to the transaction, he followed the instructions given by his director to hand over the money to Obanikoro.
Under cross-examination by the Counsel to Spotless Investment Limited, Olalekan Ojo SAN, the witness admitted that because he followed the verbal instructions of his director, he did not produce any proof to the EFCC during investigations to show that he paid the money to Obanikoro.
He also testified that after carrying out the instruction of his boss and handing over the money to Senator Obanikoro, he left the airport and did not know where the money was further moved to.
“I stated in my statement that I was admitted to the tarmac for the bullion van to load the cash into the aircraft. In Exhibit F I stated that the cash was offloaded into the aircraft which flew out of the airport. “When we eventually gained entrance into the private wing, Mr Obanikoro came with two policemen and cash was offloaded into the first aircraft which flew out of the airport”.
The case continues tomorrow, Tuesday.
Fayose, alongside Spotless Investment Limited, are facing 11 counts, bordering on criminal breach of trust, theft and money laundering.
In the charges, the EFCC alleged, among other things, that Fayose, on June 17, 2014, “took possession of the sum of N1, 219, 000,000 to fund your 2014 gubernatorial campaign in Ekiti State, which you reasonably ought to have known formed part of the proceeds of an unlawful act, to wit: criminal breach of trust/stealing.”
The ex-governor was also alleged to have on the same day “received a cash payment of $5,000,000 from Senator Musiliu Obanikoro, the then Minister of State for Defence, which sum exceeded the amount authorised by law and you thereby committed an offence contrary to sections 1 and 16(d) of the Money Laundering (Prohibition) Act, 2011 (as amended) and punishable under Section 16 (2)(b) of the same Act.”
Fayose and Spotless Investment Limited pleaded not guilty.
“The state government wishes to reiterate its sustained call on the security agencies to heighten their surveillance and stem every untoward move in the direction of a peaceful election. Providing adequate security for Ajayi as he tours Owo can only be a potent effort to forestall a dangerous slide into perfidy.”