N2.2bn money laundering: Fayose’s rearraignment stalled
The proposed re-arraignment of a former Governor of Ekiti State, Mr Ayodele Fayose accused of money laundering to the tune of N2.2 billion was on Friday stalled before a Federal High Court in Lagos as the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission told the court that it has begun a new investigation on the ex-governor.
Fayose was billed to be re-arraigned before Justice Chukwukekwu Aneke after the matter was moved from Justice Mojisola Olatoregun where he was initially arraigned.
Fayose was arraigned alongside his firm, Spotless Limited, on 11 counts bordering on criminal breach of trust, theft and money laundering.
The prosecution had opened trial on November 19, 2018, and had called 13 witnesses out of the 15 witnesses listed when the EFCC wrote a petition to the Chief Judge of the Federal High Court, Justice Adamu Abdu-Kafarati, requesting that the case be transferred from Justice Olatoregun and the case was subsequently transferred to Justice Aneke.
However, at Friday proceedings, counsel for Fayose, Wole Olanipekun (SAN), informed the court of an application before the court seeking that the matter is returned to the former trial judge, Justice Olatoregun.
He said, “We filed an application seeking that this matter is returned to your learned brother, Justice Olatoregun who has indeed heard 13 out of 15 witnesses in this suit. Whether or not we are going to proceed with the application is another issue, this is a criminal proceeding where the EFCC is a nominal complainant and the main complainant is the Federal Republic of Nigeria.”
Olanipekun informed the court that the defendants had opted to withdraw the objection to the arraignment.
He said, “In view of the fact that my Lord Justice Olatoregun’s tenure on the bench will soon come to an end, the defendant has opted to withdraw all objections to transfer of the case file to this honourable court as we have no preference whatsoever for a particular judge.
“We have absolute confidence in your Lordship but our concern was merely for the rule of law and that this suit should not be cited as precedent that the CJ can transfer any case that is personal.”
Upon the withdrawal of the objection by the defence, counsel for EFCC, S.A Obafemi, informed the court that the arraignment of the ex-governor could not go on as he has been investigated in other matters.
He said, “This matter is coming up for the first time before your lordship for the first time and the information we gathered is that the 1st defendant in this matter is still been investigated for other matters.
Opposing the application for adjournment and urging the court to allow the defendants to take their plea, Olanipekun noted that the EFCC started investigating the ex-governor before the completion of his tenure as the governor of Ekiti State, adding that the activities of the EFCC which disturbed Fayose’s tenure made him write to the commission notifying them of his intention to submit himself to the anti-graft agency after his tenure.
However, Justice Aneke upheld the prayer of the EFCC and adjourned till July 2 for re-arraignment.