By Onozure Dania, LAGOS

An Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, EFCC, prosecution witness, Mrs Joanne Tolulope, in the trial of embattled former Ekiti State governor, Mr. Ayodele Fayose, Wednesday, told a Federal High Court sitting in Lagos of how one Mr. Abiodun Agbele, an associate of Fayose, bought properties worth N1.3 billion within four months.

Tolulope who is the 11th prosecution witness, made the disclosure before Justice Chukwujekwu Aneke in the trial of the former governor for an alleged fraud of N6.9 billion filed against him by EFCC.

The witness, who was led in evidence by the EFCC lawyer, Mr. Rotimi Jacobs (SAN) informed the court that Agbele bought four chalets from her company Still Earth Limited between March and July 2015.

The witness, who is an in-house counsel for Still Earth Limited stated that the company deals in real estate and also renovate properties to meet the needs and expected standard of their clients.

Buying the property

She testified that sometimes between March and July 2015, her company was approached by Agbele through a phone call and requested if there are properties available for sale.

“Incidentally, we have properties for sale. We discussed about Mr. Agbele’s availability to come for inspection.

“He came sometimes in March 2015 to inspect the property and requested for two chalets of 3-bedroom and 4-bedroom and paid N575 million and some fractions for the property.

“Again, in July 2015 he (Agbele) approached us and bought chalets 6 and 9 for N573 million and some figures.

“He also approached us to register the Deed of Assignment in the name of JJ Technical Services.”

However, attempt by EFCC lawyer, Rotimi Jacobs (SAN) to tender the Deed of Assignment as exhibit was resisted by the defence lawyer, Mr. Ola Olanipekun (SAN) who raised objection as to the admissibility of the document.

Following the objection, counsel to EFCC informed the court that he would withdraw the document but will tender it later during trial.

The witness narrated to the court how the money was paid, in tranches.

She said that the sum of N800 million was deposited by De Privateer Limited into the account of Still Earth Ltd, and a cash lodgement of N209 million from one Taofeek on the instructions of Abiodun Agbele.

She stated that in January 2015 the sum of N105,750,000, was received from Capital Field Investment and Trust Limited, and N39,500,000 was received from Hoss Concept while another N40 million was received from De Privateer Limited.

The witness stated that in February 2015, De Privateer Limited paid N200 million while the sum of N132,500,000 was paid by a company called Sam Chase.

The trial

The embattled former Governor of Ekiti State, Ayodele Fayose is standing trial on charges bordering on N6.9 billion fraud.

He is being prosecuted by the EFCC over N6.9billion fraud and money laundering charges.

Fayose was first arraigned on October 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 October 24, 2018, in the sum of N50 million with sureties in like sum.

The defendant was subsequently, re-arraigned before Justice Chukwujekwu Aneke, on July 2, 2019, after the case was withdrawn from 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, and is still leading witnesses in evidence.

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.

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 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.

However, the judge adjourned till tomorrow for continuation of trial.

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