N6.9bn Fraud: Court admits dead man’s statement in Fayose’s trial

A Federal High Court in Lagos today, admitted and marked as exhibit J, the extra judicial statement of a dead man, Justin Erukaa, in the ongoing trial of immediate past Governor of Ekiti State, Ayodele Fayose facing charges of N6.9 billion fraud. 

Fayose is being tried before Justice Cecilia Mojisola Olatoregun’s court by The Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) .

The former governor was first arraigned before the court on October 22, 2018, alongside a company Spotless Investment Limited, on 11 counts.

He had pleaded not guilty to the charges, and the court had granted him bail in the sum of N50 million with one surety in like sum.

EFCC had opened the case for the prosecution on November 19, 2018 and had called four witnesses. 

On January 21, 2019, the EFCC called its fifth witness, Senator Musliu Obanikoro, a former Minister of State for Defence. 

At the last adjourned date on February 5, Obanikoro was still under cross examination by second defence counsel, Mr Olalekan Ojo (SAN), who had cross examined him on the extra judicial statement of Justin Erukaa, said to be late. 

The prosecutor, Mr. Rotimi Jacobs (SAN) had objected to the tendering and admissibility of the said statement, on the grounds that the maker was not called as a witness. 

The judge had consequently, ordered counsel to address the court, on the admissibility of an extra judicial statement made by a party who is not called as a witness; respective counsel had addressed the court. 

When the case was called today, Justice Olatoregun, first delivered ruling on the admissibility of the said extra judicial statement made by the late Justin Erukaa. 

The court held that the defence may within the contemplation of sections 39 and 46 of the Evidence Act, be able to have admitted, the extra judicial statement of Justin Erukaa,  who is said to be dead. 

The judge, however, held that “the weight to be attached to the document is another matter entirely”. 

The court accordingly admitted the document and marked it as exhibit J. 

Meanwhile, in continuation of cross examination of Obanikoro, Mr Ahmed Tarfa, who is counsel holding the brief of second defence counsel Mr Olalekan Ojo (SAN), asked the witness. 

“You told the court that you took charge of the account of Silver Macnamara” and Obanikoro replied “Yes”

Defence then asked the witness to look at exhibit E series particularly exhibit E37 and tell the court if he directed the payment of June 6. 

The witness replied “Yes i directed the payment”

 Defence “Tell this court your relationship with Rehoboth Homes “

Witness replied “I have no relationship with them other than transaction that has to do with exchange of dollars,”

Defence “You told this court that you were a farmer “

Witness “Yes”

Defence “Where”

Witness: “I have one in Ogun, Badagry and Lagos.

On whether he knows a company called M. O. B integrated Company, and who owns same, the witness replied Yes, adding that the company belonged to his son. 

Defence “Do you know that the signatories of Silver Macnamara which you took charge of were staff of M. O. B Ltd, “

Witness “I don’t know “

On whether he knows the company T. G. I  Energy Ltd and his relationship with the company, Obanikoro replied that he had no relationship with the company. 

On whether the NSA funded the campaign of the PDP at the time,  the witness replied that it was not to his knowledge. 

On further queries by defence counsel, Obanikoro explained to the court that there were three transactions on the account of Silver Macnamara namely : For the security of Lagos State, for the election in Ekiti and for the election in Osun. 

He pointed out that for Lagos, it was purely a security matter for which no contract was awarded. 

Continuation of trial will resume on March 19 (tomorrow) 

According to the charge, on June 17, 2014, Fayose and one Agbele were said to have 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 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, Sen. 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 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 alleged to have procured De Privateer Ltd and Still Earth Ltd,  to retain in their Zenith and FCMB accounts, 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.

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 are said to be 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.

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