THE first prosecution witness in the ongoing trial of Biodun Agbele, an associate of Governor Ayo Fayose of Ekiti State, on Monday, in his testimony before a Federal High Court in Abuja, said the former Minister of State for Defence, Musiliu Obanikoro, handed N1.2 billion to him at Akure airport.
The witness, Mr Alade Sunday, who was cross examined by Chief Mike Ozekhome, counsel representing Agbele, told Justice Nnamdi Dimgba that it was Obanikoro that handed down the sum of N1.2 billion to him at the Akure airport.
However, Mr Sunday had earlier testified before the court that his zonal manager, Abiodun Osodi, had informed him that a customer would be bringing in some money, but when he was asked to read from his witness statement, which stated that he was informed by one Lawrence Akande, the Prosecution Witness 1 (PW1) got agitated, sprang to his feet, insisting on clarifying the fact that he was informed through his zonal manager.
The PW1, who said he had never met the defendant prior to the June 17, 2014 transactions, also insisted that he never discussed anything related to money nor any meeting, but said he was not worried that a customer he had not met before was bringing raw cash in two aircraft via the Akure airport, but got worried when the second aircraft arrived.
Having confirmed he was worried over the huge sum of money, when asked if he knows about the Suspicion Transaction Report (STR) or any financial task force, which he said he knows and he was even a part, he, however, said he did not report the transactions because it was not his duty to do so, and as a compliance officer, he insisted that he did not report the transaction because there was a department to do that.
Earlier, Wahab Shittu, prosecuting counsel, while announcing his appearance, had informed the court that he had initiated the process of retrieving the defendant’s international passport from the EFCC, to be brought before the court.
It will be recalled that the court, at the last adjourned date, had asked the EFCC to produce the defendant’s international passport, having written the court that the defendant would embark on a foreign trip for medical attention.
During cross examination, the PW1 affirmed that when the aircraft landed at Akure airport, it was the defendant, Biodun Agbele and Obanikoro who took custody of the money.
When asked on whose instruction the monies were transferred, he said “the instruction was given by Biodun Agbele.
“The transaction was processed on behalf of Agbele, the cash was mostly in N1,000 bill, while the rest were in N500, and were deposited into the accounts of Spotless Investment, De Privateer Limited of Ayodele Fayose.”
At this point, the trial judge adjourned the continuation of trial till November 17, 2016.
Agbele was arraigned alongside Obanikoro (in absentia), Sylvan Mcnamara Limited, A. O. Adewale, Tunde Oshinowo and Olalekan Ogunseye (all at large) before the court on an 11-count charge bordering on money laundering to the tune of N1.2 billion allegedly transferred from the Office of the National Security Adviser (ONSA) by the embattled former NSA, Sambo Dasuki.
In a related development, a witness of the EFCC in the ongoing trial of Mr Azibaola Robert, Managing Director of One-plus Holdings and cousin to former President Goodluck Jonathan, on Monday, told a Federal High Court, in Abuja, that the $39.9 million paid to One-Plus Holdings by the ONSA was inconsequential, as Azibaola was “High Profile Net Worth Customer” of Zenith Bank Plc.
The witness, Olabode Farinuola, a compliance officer of the bank, during cross-examination by Gordy Uche, counsel for Azibaola and his wife, Stella, admitted that cash inflows into Oneplus and its sister company, Kakatar CE Limited, made Robert and his wife one of the biggest customers of the bank.
The bank official told the court that Oneplus and Kakatar CE have several big construction projects cutting across the country, especially in Abuja.
Farinuola, who is the second Prosecution Witness (PW2) in the case, told the court that he did not know the purpose $39.9 million was paid into OnePlus’ account by the ONSA and the purpose to which it was disbursed.
He stated that the bank complied with all regulations for opening a corporate account for Oneplus Holdings under the KYC (Know Your Customer) principle.
Asked if, as a compliance officer, the bank had ever received any complaint of any form of financial misconduct from any law enforcement agency, the witness said, “No” and added that the only letter from EFCC to the bank requesting for the account package was what it had ever received.
“No other agency has written to question any financial transaction by Oneplus Holdings,” he said.
In his earlier testimony of October 6, led by EFCC counsel, Mr Tahir Farinuola had stated that, “On 22nd January, 2016, we received a letter from EFCC on investigation activities, on Oneplus Holdings Limited, on the domiciliary account requesting for the account opening documentation, we have forwarded the statement of account and a certificate of identification to EFCC.”