A Federal High Court in Lagos, on Tuesday, granted the former governor of Ekiti State, Ayodele Fayose, bail, after his re-arraignment before Justice Chukwujekwe Aneke by the Economic and financial crimes commission (EFCC).
While moving the application for bail, counsel to the first defendant Ola Olaonipekun, a senior advocate of Nigeria (SAN), who also held brief for the second defendant due to absence of its counsel, Olalekan Ojo, informed the court that the former judge prosecuting the case justice Mojisola Olatoregun and the prosecution had had no reason to complain about the defendant since the trial commenced and asked that the defendant be granted bail on the same terms as was granted before Justice Olatoregun.
“The defendant was once granted bail by Justice Olatoregun. He has been prompt and strictly complies with his bail terms. Neither Justice Olatoregun nor the prosecution have had any cause to complain about his conduct during this trial and we urge your lordship to allow him continue. ”
The defence also moved another motion it said had been filed on May 13, seeking that the Mr Fayose be allowed to travel to South Africa for medical treatment during the vacation period of the court.
The EFCC counsel Adebisi Adeniyi however informed the court that events had overtaken the motion, especially in terms of dates, drawing attention to the fact that the motion prayed the court to effect the approval from 14th of May but the motion is now just being moved on July 2.
In response, Mr Olanipekun informed the court that the defence was waiting for approval to move the motion before applying to amend the dates.
“We were waiting for permission to move the motion so we can apply to amend the dates. We would like the 14th of May to be substituted with 2nd of July,” a prayer that was immediately granted by the judge with no objection from the prosecution.
The defence also prayed the court to grant at least five consecutive trial dates so as to enable the trial move faster, citing distance of all parties involved from Lagos and the desire of the defendant to the charge against him proved as soon as possible.
“The defendant in this case comes all the way from Ekiti and counsels converge from all over Nigeria. We want about five days at a stretch for trial dates so we know meaningful progress is made each time we converge in Lagos. ”
“We are the defence but we want the case to go on quickly as the defendant won’t want a perpetual charge on his head.”
In response, the protecting counsel Mr Adeniyi said the prosecution is not opposed to such prayer.
“We are not opposed to the suggestion but in case it is impossible, two to three days and some other days apart from the consecutive ones, is okay too.”
Justice Aneke subsequently adjourned the matter to September 16-19 and October 21-25, for trial.
He also granted the application of the defendant to travel for medical check-up and ordered that he be back on or before September 16, for his trial.
Earlier in the proceeding, Mr Fayose, along with his company, Spotless Ltd were re-arraigned on an 11 count charge bordering on money laundering of an amount totalling N6.9billion.
The charge which the prosecution informed the court was dated October 18, 2018 was un-amended and remained the same as his previous arraignment before Justice Olatoregun. The defendant pleaded not guilty to all the charges preferred against him.
It will be recalled that the EFCC had secured the transfer of the matter from Justice Olatoregun by a letter from the Chief Justice dated May 23, after calling 13 out of its 15 prosecution witness stating presumed bias by the judge against EFCC.
They had also declined to re-arraign the defendants when the matter appeared before the newly assigned Judge, Mr Aneke, arguing that they had not received directives to go ahead with re-arraignment.