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Judge’s Absence Stalls Fayose’s Fraud Trial

Ayodele Fayose

According to a report by The PUNCH, the money laundering trial of the former Governor of Ekiti State, Ayodele Fayose, was on Monday, stalled before a Federal High Court in Lagos as the trial court did not sit.

The trial, which was fixed for continuation on Monday, could not proceed as the trial judge, Justice Chukwujekwu Aneke, was said to be attending a conference.

A new date will now be agreed on by the parties in due course.

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

He was first arraigned on October 22, 2018, before Justice Mojisola Olatotegun, alongside his company, Spotless Investment Ltd., on 11 counts bordering on fraud and money laundering offences.

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

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was, however, subsequently, re-arraigned before Justice Chukwujekwu Aneke, on July 2, 2019, after the case was withdrawn from Justice Olatoregun, following the EFCC’s petition.

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He had also pleaded not guilty to the charges and was allowed to continue on the earlier bail granted, while the case was adjourned for trial.

The commission has since opened its case before Justice Aneke and is still leading witnesses in evidence.

In December 2021, the EFCC had called its 11th witness, one Mrs Joanne Tolulope, who had narrated how Abiodun Agbele, an associate of Fayose, bought properties worth several millions of naira.

The trial will now continue on the next adjourned date.

The News Agency of Nigeria reports that during the trial before Justice Olatoregun, the prosecution had called witnesses, from several commercial banks, as well as a former Minister of State for Defence, Senator Musiliu Obanikoro.

According to the charge, on June 17, 2014, Fayose and one Abiodun Agbele were said to have taken possession of the sum of N1.2 billion, for purposes of funding his gubernatorial election campaign in Ekiti, which sum they reasonably ought to have known formed part of crime proceeds.

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Fayose was alleged to have received a cash payment of the sum 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 took control of the aggregate sums of about N622 million, which sum, he reasonably ought to have known formed part of crime proceeds.

Fayose was alleged to have procured De Privateer Limited and Still Earth Limited to retain the aggregate sums of N851 million which they reasonably ought to have known formed part of crime proceeds.

Besides, the defendant was alleged to have used the aggregate sums of about N1.6 billion to acquire properties in Lagos and Abuja, which sums he reasonably ought to have known formed part of crime proceeds.

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He was also alleged to have used N200 million to acquire a property in Abuja, the Federal Capital Territory, in the name of a family member.

The 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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