Judge’s absence stalls Ayo Fayose’s ‘money laundering’ trial

Trial will now continue on the next adjourned date.

Ayo Fayose

The money laundering trial of a former Governor of Ekiti state, Ayodele Fayose, was on Monday, July 04, 2022, 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 (EFCC) for N6.9billion fraud and money laundering charges.

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was however, subsequently, re-arraigned before Justice Chukwujekwu Aneke, on July 2, 2019, after the case was withdrawn from Justice Olatoregun, following EFCC’s petition.

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

Trial will now continue on the next adjourned date.

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

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.

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 Ltd and Still Earth Ltd, 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.

He was also alleged to have used N200 million, to acquire a property in Abuja, 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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