The Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) today, told a Federal High Court, Lagos, that embattled former Governor of Ekiti State, Ayodele Fayose, is still under investigation by the Commission.
Fayose is being prosecuted by the EFCC over N6.9 billion fraud.
He was first arraigned on October 22, 2018, before Justice Mojisola Olatotegun, alongside a company, Spotless Investment Limited, 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, when he was first arraigned before Justice Mojisola Olatoregun.
The prosecution had opened trial on Nov. 19, 2018, and had so far called 13 witnesses out of the15 listed.
However, the Chief Judge of the Federal High Court, Justice Adamu Abdu-kafarati had transferred the case from Olatoregun, to a new judge, Justice Chukwujekwu Aneke, following a petition by the EFCC seeking a transfer of the case.
Fayose was billed for re-arraignment before Justice Aneke on Friday, but counsel representing the prosecution, Mr S. A Obafemi, had asked the court to adjourn the case to a further date.
He said that the commission was still investigating the defendant, adding that at present, there were no clear directives from the commission, on the steps to take .
“The matter is coming up for the first time before this court and the information we gathered from our client (EFCC) is that the first defendant is still being investigated for other matters.
“The arraignment will not be possible this morning as we are yet to hear from the complainant, on further steps to be taken,” he said
According to Obafemi, the main prosecutor of the case, Mr Rotimi Jacobs (SAN), was absent in court, as a result of the situation.
He urged the court to grant an adjournment
In response, defence counsel, Messrs Ola Olanipekun (SAN) and Olalekan Ojo (SAN) respectively opposed the request for adjournment.
Defence described the EFCC as a nominal party to the suit, and the Federal Government, the main party.
According to defence, there must be an end to litigation and the charge could not lie before the court in perpetuity, adding that the commission had began investigation of the defendant even before expiration of his tenure as Governor.
Ojo specifically said: “The prosecutor has cited no law to back up this strange proposition of having this arraignment postponed, just because the prosecution is investigating the defendant for other cases.
“The court has a mandatory duty to prevent persecution of any criminal defendant, as this is the only way the integrity of the criminal justice system can be guaranteed,” he said
He urged the court to order the charge to be read over to Fayose.
In considering the prayer for adjournment, the court first frowned at the request, on the grounds that the charge was transred to the court and was slated for re-assignment today, which is its main concern.
The judge, however, said that since it was not the main prosecutor (Jacobs) who appeared in the case, he would grant an adjournment in the interest of justice.
The court then fixed July 2 for re-arraignment.
Earlier. when the case was mentioned, defence counsel had informed the court that although they had filed application for a transfer of the case back to the former judge, Olatoregun, there were however, some developments.
Fayose’s counsel, Olanipekun (SAN) told the court that he had just been informed that the said judge was due for retirement sometime in November.
On that premise, the defence had urged the court for a 30 minutes stand down to enable them discuss with the defendant on his opinion on the situation .
Upon retuned to court after the stand down, the defence returned back to court and informed the judge that the application for transfer of the case has been withdrawn and that the defendant was prepared for re-arraignment.
The defence noted that even if the case file is sent back to the former judge, she would still not be able to conclude the trial before her retirement.
They had urged the court to proceed with re-arraignment, as the defence had no preference for any particular judge, but only concerned with the justice of the case.
It was at this point that the EFCC counsel (Obafemi) sort an adjournment for re-arraignment of the defendant, adding that the prosecution was also concerned with getting Justice.
During trial before Justice Olatoregun, the prosecution had called witnesses, from Zenith Bank, Diamond Bank, as well as a former Minister of State for Defence, Senator Musiliu Obanikoro.
According to the charge, on June 17, 2014, Fayose and 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 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 contravenes 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.