N2.2bn fraud: Court adjourns trial of Fayose till March 19

Justice Mojisola Olatoregun of a Federal High Court sitting in Lagos on Monday adjourned till Tuesday the fraud and money laundering trial of former Governor of Ekiti State, Ayodele Fayose.

At Monday’s proceedings, the Judge admitted as evidence a statement made by one late Mr Justin Erukaa, who worked as Personal Assistant to Mr Musiliu Obanikoro, before his death.

In a short ruling, Justice Olatoregun admitted Erukaa’s statement and marked it as Exhibit J.

The Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) had on October 22, 2018, arraigned Fayose and a company, Sylvan Mcmanara Ltd on 11 counts bordering on criminal breach of trust, stealing and money laundering.

During the trial on Monday, Ahmed Tarfa who stood in for the second defence counsel, Mr Olalekan Ojo (SAN), cross-examined Senator Musiliu Obanikoro, a former Minister of State for Defence who reiterated that he was into farming, with his farms in Lagos, Badagry and Ogun State.

He also confirmed knowing a company, MOB Integrated Limited.

“That company is owned by my son,” the former Minister of State for Defence said.

When asked by Tarfa if he knew that staff members of MOB Integrated Limited were signatories to the bank account of Fayose’s co-accused, Sylvan Mcmanara Ltd, Obanikoro said, “I don’t know what you are talking about.”

He explained again that then NSA, Sambo Dasuki, entered into an agreement with Taiwo Kareem, who owns Sylvan Mcmanara Ltd, to use the firm’s account for the disbursement of funds for security operations in Lagos.

Obanikoro said after the agreement with Kareem, he took over Sylvan Mcmanara Ltd’s account in a supervisory capacity, adding that all the major decisions taken on the account were cleared with him.

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“There were three transactions. One was for the security of Lagos; one for election in Ekiti and for election in Osun State,” he said.

When Tarfa asked if “matters of elections were matters of security,” Obanikoro said: “They can be.”

But when asked if the Office of the National Security Adviser funded his campaign while he was vying for governorship on the platform of the Peoples Democratic Party, Obanikoro said, “Not to my knowledge.”

He said he had no records of his transactions with the NSA.

He, however, said he would not be surprised if the record of the NSA showed no N2.2bn transaction.

Justice Olatoregun adjourned further proceedings till Tuesday.

The EFCC alleged that on June 17, 2014, Fayose “took possession of the sum of N1, 219, 000,000 to fund his 2014 gubernatorial campaign in Ekiti State.”

He was also alleged to have on the same day received a cash payment of $5,000,000 from Senator Musiliu Obanikoro, the then Minister of State for Defence.

The offences Fayose allegedly committed are contrary to sections 1 and 16(d) of the Money Laundering (Prohibition) Act, 2011 (as amended) and punishable under Section 16 (2)(b) of the same Act.”