Former Ekiti Governor Ayodele Fayose’s Money Laundering Trial Continues on July 14

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Former Ekiti Governor Ayodele Fayose's Money Laundering Trial Continues on July 14
Ayodele Fayose’s Money Laundering Trial to Proceed on July 14 in Lagos

The high-profile money laundering trial of Ayodele Fayose, a former governor of Ekiti State, will continue on July 14, according to the latest announcement from the Federal High Court in Lagos. The trial, previously scheduled for both July 13 and 14, faced an unforeseen setback as the prosecutor, Mr. Rotimi Jacobs, was absent.

Due to the prosecutor’s absence, the continuation of the trial has been rescheduled for Friday to ensure all parties involved can proceed appropriately. Fayose is currently facing charges of money laundering and is being prosecuted by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC), Nigeria’s anti-corruption agency.

The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) has reported that the trial has already witnessed substantial testimonies, with the 12th prosecution witness, former Minister of State for Defence, Sen. Musiliu Obanikoro, presenting his evidence to the court on June 6. Sen. Obanikoro’s testimony, which commenced on January 31, concluded after rigorous cross-examination by the defense.

During his appearance, the witness informed the court that he did not possess any documentary evidence to substantiate the claim that he provided funds to Fayose. The trial has seen various testimonies, including witnesses from commercial banks and Sen. Obanikoro himself.

Ayodele Fayose was initially arraigned on October 22, 2018, before Justice Mojisola Olatotegun alongside his company, Spotless Investments Ltd., on an 11-count charge related to money laundering offenses. The former governor pleaded not guilty to the charges and was granted bail on October 24, 2018, with a sum of N50 million and sureties in a similar amount.

However, Fayose’s case was subsequently transferred to Justice Chukwujekwu Aneke on July 2, 2019, following a petition filed by the EFCC. The defendant pleaded not guilty once again and was allowed to maintain the previous bail while the trial was adjourned.

The EFCC has been diligently presenting its case before Justice Aneke, leading to the examination of multiple witnesses. In December 2021, the commission called Mrs. Joanne Tolulope as its 11th witness, who provided a detailed account of how Abiodun Agbele, an associate of Fayose, acquired properties worth millions of Naira.

According to the charge, on June 17, 2014, Fayose and Abiodun Agbele allegedly took possession of the sum of N1.2 billion for the purpose of funding Fayose’s gubernatorial election campaign in Ekiti. The former governor was further accused of receiving a cash payment of five million dollars (equivalent to about N1.8 billion) from Sen. Obanikoro without involving any financial institution.

Moreover, Fayose was alleged to have retained N300 million in his account and gained control of approximately N622 million, which he reasonably should have known constituted proceeds of crime. The defendant was also accused of utilizing De Privateer Ltd. and Still Earth Ltd. to retain a combined total of N851 million, which they should have known were proceeds of criminal activity.

In addition, the prosecution claimed that Fayose used about N1.6 billion to acquire properties in Lagos and Abuja, which he reasonably should have known were derived from illicit sources. Another allegation involved the purchase of a property worth N200 million in Abuja, registered under the name of his elder sister, Moji Oladeji, which was also believed to be linked to illegal proceeds.

These charges filed against Fayose contravene several sections of the Money Laundering Prohibition Act, 2011, specifically Sections 15(1), 15(2), 15(3), 16(2)(b), 16(d), and 18(c).

The continuation of the trial on July 14 will provide an opportunity for the prosecution to present further evidence and for the defense to counter the allegations against Fayose. As the case unfolds, the Nigerian public remains attentive to the outcome of this high-profile trial that could have significant implications for the country’s fight against corruption. (NAN)

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