Moves by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) to transfer the trial of the immediate past governor of Ekiti State, Mr. Ayodele Fayose, from Justice Mojisola Olatoregun of the Federal High Court, Ikoyi, Lagos to another judge may have failed as the trial continued today, with the 11th prosecution witness, Mr. Sunday Alade telling the court how the N1.2 billion allegedly given to former Ekiti State Governor Ayo Fayose from the Office of National Security Adviser (ONSA) was moved to the state.
However, Alade, who said he was the bank branch manager in 2014 when the money was moved to his branch said he did not know where the money came from and that he was not sure the person who brought the cash was former Minister of State for Defense, Senator Musiliu Obanikoro.
He also said he did not submit any Bulk Cash Register to EFCC on the transaction.
The EFCC had written a petition dated March 21, 2019 and signed by its acting chairman, Ibrahim Magu, to the Honourable Chief Judge of the Federal High Court, Justice A. Abdul-Kafarati, seeking the transfer of the trial from Justice Olatoregun to another judge, alleging bias against the trial judge.
However, at the resumed hearing today, there was no indication that the case would be transferred to another judge as no reference was made to the petition.
Led in evidence by prosecuting counsel Mr Rotimi Jacobs (SAN), Alade said he got a call from his head of operations asking him to prepare to head for Akure Airport to receive cash from a customer.
“On the 17th of June 2014, I was in my office in Akure. I received a call from my head of operations that a customer would be coming to make deposit into his account with the bank.
“He said in order to provide security, we should arrange for a van bullion to go to the airport to pick the cash.
“After an hour, my head of operations came and said the customer had arrived. He introduced the customer.
“He said we should prepare to go to the airport. I asked for time to arrange for security, but they said that won’t be necessary as they had sufficient security. They came with MOPOL and some soldiers in a Hilux van,” Alade said.
The witness said he joined the customer to the airport, along with the bullion van and the security men.
Alade said: “At the airport, we waited for a few minutes before the arrival of the aircraft. Three individuals came out of the aircraft.
“Two of them walked away. The remaining person introduced himself as O. Adewale. The cash was offloaded into the bullion van and we drove to Akure,” Alade said.
He said when they arrived at the bank; the money was counted in his presence and others that were also present.
“The money was counted in our presence. It was N724million. We were informed that there was a balance. We went back to the airport and picked N494million.
“The total cash amounted to N1.219billion. Another aircraft brought the N494million.
“I gathered that the cash was lodged in three bank accounts – those of De-Privateer, Spotless Investment and Ayodele Fayose.
“I also understand some cash was taken away that day by the customer.”
Asked who Adewale was, he said: “Adewale O. introduced himself as Obanikoro’s ADC (aide-de-camp).”
Asked if he knew those who walked away from the aircraft after it landed, the witness said: “One of them resembled Obanikoro. I never met him in person. But he resembled the person I saw on television and newspapers.”
Under cross examination by defence counsel Ola Olanipekun (SAN) and Olalekan Ojo (SAN) (for Spoless Ltd, Fayose’s co-accused), the witness said he did not know where the money came from.
Asked if he knew what the money was meant for, he said: “Not at all.”
The witness said it took 10 days to process the cash.
In response to a question by Ojo as to whether he submitted a bulk cash register to EFCC on the transaction, the witness said “No.”
Ojo showed the witness a statement of account belonging to Spotless Investment.
He was asked to identify entries for October 6, 2014, September 5, 2014 and December 6, 2014.
Alade said the entries showed the transfer of N11.173million each described as “mortgage repayment” and “mortgage loan liquidation”.
He added: “But I didn’t know anything about the transactions.” Ojo said: “Don’t worry.”
Before the trial began, Jacobs said he was involved in an accident and had to come to court in crutches.
He asked the court to allow him take only one witness, but he did not disclose when or where he had the accident.
He was seen wearing a heavy bandage brace on his right foot with no footwear on.
Justice Olatoregun adjourned until May 10 and 14 for continuation of trial.