The N2.2bn fraud trial of former Governor Ayodele Fayose of Ekiti State continued on Tuesday with a top official of Zenith Bank Plc, Dr Abiodun Oshode, narrating to the court how the bank took a bullion van to the airport to evacuate a cash sum of N1.219bn from an aircraft.
Oshode said the bank rendered the service at the request of Abiodun Agbele – an aide to Fayose.
He 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 as those of Privateer Nigeria Limited; Spotless Investment Limited and “a personal account of His Excellency (Fayose).”
Oshode, who was led in evidence by the prosecution for the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, Mr Rotimi Jacobs (SAN), also listed “Ayodele Fayose and Mrs Olayemi Fayose” as the signatories to the account of Spotless Investment Limited.
When asked under cross-examination by Fayose’s lawyer, Mr Ola Olanipekun (SAN), whether “seeing such volume of money being paid into your bank,” the bank reported the N1.219bn cash 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 that “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 and responding, Oshode said, “Yes.”
When the second defence counsel, Mr Olalekan Ojo (SAN), told Oshode that “At no time did you see the 1st 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 C.J. Aneke adjourned further proceedings till Wednesday.
In the charges, the EFCC alleged, among others, that Fayose, on June 17, 2014, “took possession of the sum of N1, 219, 000,000 to fund your 2014 gubernatorial campaign in Ekiti State, which you reasonably ought to have known formed part of the proceeds of an unlawful act, to wit: criminal breach of trust/stealing.”
The ex-governor 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, which sum exceeded the amount authorised by law and you thereby committed an offence 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.”
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