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EFCC: Trial of Fayose’s associate, Agbele, over money laundering starts

  • EFCC lines up 3 Zenith staff as witness
The Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) on Wednesday said it will call three witnesses to prove that Abiodun Agbele, an associate of Governor Ayodele Fayose of Ekiti State is guilty of the eleven-count charge preferred against him and three others.
Agbele,  Sylvan Mcnamara Ltd, De Privateer Ltd and Spotless Investment Ltd are being prosecuted by the anti-graft agency on allegation of money laundering, to a tune of about N4.6 billion allegedly transferred from the Office of the National Security Adviser (ONSA) with the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) by Col. Mohammed Sambo Dasuki (rtd).
At the resumed hearing of the matter on Wednesday, the prosecution counsel, Wahab Shittu, informed the court that the matter was adjourned for the commencement of trial and added that the prosecution has lined up three Zenith Bank Plc officials from Ekiti State as witnesses in the matter.
The defence counsel, Chief Mike Ozekhome (SAN), challenged Shittu’s appearance for the prosecution on the ground that there was no motion or letter to the court or defence counsel on the change of counsel by the prosecution, in line with Order 9, Rule 35 of the Rules of the Federal High Court.
Ozekhome told the court that it was one Johnson Ojogbane that has been appearing in the matter for the prosecution and that the prosecution ought to have communicated to the court and the defence of change of counsel, according to the law.
“There must be certainty in law and in appearance of counsel”, he said and informed the court that the EFCC has refused to release the International Passport of the defendant since August 4, 2016 that the court admitted the defendant to bail.
Justice Nnamdi Dimgba had, as part of the conditions for the N500 million bail he granted Fayose’s associate, ordered that his travel document be deposited with the court and should not  travel outside the country without the permission of the court.
Parts of the bail conditions are that the defendant shall produce two sureties in the sum of N250 million each with prove of ownership of a property in Abuja or Lagos.
The sureties can be in a private business or professionals and where they are civil servants should hold a position not less than a director.
In his submissions, Shittu told the court that it is the State that has the locus standi (legal right) to challenge his appearance and added that the change of counsel by the prosecution will not prejudice the defendant in anyway.
In a short ruling, the trial Judge said there was no sufficient reasons by the defence to stop the commencement of trial and agreed that it is only the State that can challenge Shittu’s appearance in the matter.
Justice Dimgba adjourned the matter  till today to commence trial and directed Shittu to talk to the EFCC to release the defendant’s International Passport to the registrar of the court so as to make it available to him after satisfying the court on the need to travel outside the country.
Parts of the charge reads: “That you Abiodun Agbele, Musliu Obanikoro (now at large) (while being the Minister of Defence for state), Sylvan Mcnamara Ltd, LT. A.O Adewale (now at alrge), Tunde Osinowo (now at large) and Olalekan Ogunseye (now at large) (while  being the sole signatory to the Zenith Bank account of Sylvan Mcnamara Ltd) sometime between the 4th day of April, 2014 and 13th November, 2014, conspired amongst yourselves to commit illegal act to wit: laundering the sum of N4, 6 million being the sum transferred from the Office of the National Security Adviser with Central Bank of Nigeria by Col Mohammed Sambo Dasuki (rtd) which you knew or reasonably ought to know that the said fund formed part of the proceeds of an unlawful activity of Col Mohammed Sambo Dasuki (rtd) the then National Security Adviser, and you thereby committed an offence contrary to section 18(a) of the Money Laundering (Prohibition) Act, 2011 (As Amended in 2012) and punishable under section 15(3) of the same Act.”