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‘We moved N1.219bn with bullion van for Fayose’s aide’

‘We moved N1.219bn with bullion van for Fayose’s aide’

A top official of Zenith Bank Plc, Dr Abiodun Oshode, on Tuesday, told a Federal High Court in Lagos that the bank took a bullion van to the Akure Airport in Ondo State to evacuate N1.219billion cash from an aircraft in 2014.

He told Justice Chukwujekwu Aneke that the bank rendered the service at the request of former Ekiti governor Ayodele Fayose’s aide, Abiodun Agbele.

He said the money was deposited in three accounts, including Fayose’s personal bank account.

Fayose is being prosecuted by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) on an alleged N6.9bn money laundering charge.

He was arraigned on October 22, 2018, before Justice Mojisola Olatotegun, alongside a firm, Spotless Investment Ltd, on 11 counts of fraud and money laundering offences.

He pleaded not guilty and was granted N50 million bail on October 24, 2018, with two sureties in the like sum.

The defendant was re-arraigned before Justice Aneke, on July 2.

He repeated his plea and was allowed to continue on the earlier bail granted, while the case was adjourned for trial.

At the resumption of proceedings on Tuesday, Oshode was led in evidence by EFCC Counsel, Mr Rotimi Jacobs (SAN).

The witness told the court that a former Minister of State for Defence, Musiliu Obanikoro, was present during the operation at the airport “but we did not interact.”

Oshode said on taking the N1.219bn cash to the bank, Agbele supplied three bank accounts into which the money was to be lodged.

He listed the three accounts like those of Privateer Nigeria Ltd; Spotless Investment Ltd and “a personal account of His Excellency (Fayose).”

Oshode also listed “Ayodele Fayose and Mrs. Olayemi Fayose” as the signatories to the account of Spotless Investment Ltd.

When asked under cross-examination by Fayose’s lawyer, Mr Ola Olanipekun (SAN), whether on “seeing such volume of money being paid into your bank,” the bank reported the N1.219bn lodgment to the authorities as “illicit or suspicious,” Oshode said, “It was reported.”

He explained that it was the standard practice that banks must report cash transactions above N1m for an individual and N5m for a corporate body.

When Olanipekun asked him “pursuant to the report, did you get any instructions to stop the transaction?” Oshode said, “No.”

When the defence counsel asked whether Oshode would agree with him that “the transaction was not stopped because it was deemed appropriate,” the banker said he agreed.

“You also agree that the defendant invited your bank because they too believed the transaction was appropriate?” Olanipekun asked.

“Yes,” Oshode responded.

When the second defence counsel, Mr Olalekan Ojo (SAN), told Oshode that “At no time did you see the first defendant (Fayose) filling any teller at any branch of your bank, either in Ekiti or Akure,” the banker said, “Excellency will not do that.”

Justice Aneke adjourned further proceedings till Wednesday.

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.

Besides, 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 contravene 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.

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