A Federal High Court, Lagos, today, October 24, granted bail in the sum of N50 million to the immediate past Governor of Ekiti State, Ayodele Fayose, standing trial on charges bordering on alleged N6.9billion electioneering campaign fraud.
Fayose was arraigned on last Monday, October 22, by The Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC), alongside a company Spotless Investment Limited, on 11 counts bordering on the offence.
He had pleaded not guilty to the charges, while the court had adjourned the case for hearing of his bail application.
Meanwhile, the court had ordered his remand at the prison’s custody pending the fulfilment of the bail terms.
At the resumed hearing of Fayose’s bail application, his lawyer, Mr Kanu Agabi (SAN) a former Attorney General of the Federation (AGF), told the court that the application was dated October 22 and brought pursuant to the inherent jurisdiction of the court.
Agabi (SAN) also told the court that there is a presumption of innocence of an accused until guilt is establishes, adding that the ex governor is very eager to see the conclusion of the charges before the court and so, will not jump bail.
He told the court that Fayose willfully submitted himself to the EFCC, immediately after leaving office as governor, which shows his readiness to face the charge.
He therefore urged the court to grant bail to the accused on self recognisance as a former governor.
Responding, the EFCC prosecutor, Mr. Rotimi Jacobs (SAN) informed the court of a counter affidavit in opposition to bail. Though, he told the court that bail is a constitutional right but there were limitations.
“The issue of presumption of innocence has to do with trial and for now, no one is saying he is guilty,” he said
According to him, the prosecution is also eager for an accelerated hearing of the case and urged the court to order an accelerated trial.
Jacobs also opposed the application for bail on self recognisance, on the grounds that being a former governor was not a yardstcok for granting bail, as it does not guarantee attendance of the accused in court.
He expressed concerns that intelligence reports reveals that the accused will interfere with witnesses and proceedings, and may jump bail if granted.
He urged the court to refuse bail on his laid down arguments
In a short ruling, Justice Mojisola Olatoregun noted that the allegations proffered by prosecution in its counter affidavit were grave, but that the accused would be given a benefit of doubt.
The court consequently held :”The defendant is admitted to bail in the sum of N50 million with two sureties in like sum,”
She added that the surety is to present a bond of N50 million from a reputable insurance company or a first line bank which is acceptable by the court.
The judge held that there must also be the production of three years tax clearance, while the accused must ensure he attends court for trial unfailingly, otherwise, the bond will be forfeited.
The court ordered that the international passport of the accused should be deposited in the Court’s Deputy Chief Registrar (DCR).
She adjourned the case until Nov. 19 for trial.
The EFCC in a charge marked FHC/L/353c/18, alleged that Fayose and Agbele had on June 17, 2014, taken possession of the sum of N1.2 billion, for purposes of funding his gubernatorial election campaign in Ekiti State, which sum they reasonably ought to have known formed part of crime proceeds.
Fayose was also alleged to have received a cash payment of the sum of five million dollars, (about N1.8 billion) from the then Minister of State for Defence, Senator Musiliu Obanikoro, without going through any financial institution and which sum exceeded the amount allowed by law.
He was also alleged to have retained the sum of N300 million in his Zenith Bank Plc’s account and took control of the aggregate sums of about N622 million which sum he ought to have known formed part of crime proceeds.
Fayose was further alleged to have procured two companies, De Privateer Limited and Still Earth Limited, to retain in their Zenith Bank Plc, and First City Monument Bank Plc (FCMB) accounts, the aggregate sums of N851 million which they reasonably ought to have known formed part of crime proceeds.
Besides, the accused 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.
The accused was also alleged to have used the sum of N200 million, to acquire a property in Abuja, in the name of his elder sister Moji Oladeji, which sum he ought to know also forms crime proceeds.
The offences according to the EFCC are contrary to and punishable under sections 15(1), 15 (2), 15 (3), 16(2)(b), 16 (d), and 18 (c) of the Money Laundering Prohibition Act 2011