A defence witness, Kola Olapoju, on Wednesday told a Federal High Court in Lagos that the transactions which led to the trial of a former Aviation Minister, Femi Fani-Kayode, were “unusual and exceptional.”
Mr. Olapoju, who is the first defence witness, said this while being cross-examined by Festus Keyamo, Counsel to the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, EFCC.
The EFCC is prosecuting Mr. Fani-Kayode before Justice Rita Ofili-Ajumogobia, for money laundering charges he allegedly committed while serving as Minister of Culture and Tourism, and later Aviation.
The witness, who is also a co-administrator of Mr. Fani-Kayode’s late father’s estate, told the court that the accused in 2006 requested for funds from the estate to pay some artisans who carried out repair work on the property.
Mr. Olapoju said he had known the accused for over 20 years and that he had been managing the estate for about 14 years. He said that there were five beneficiaries of the estate, but were now four beneficiaries.
“It is not usual for any of the beneficiaries to withdraw funds. It is the core administrator that gives instructions on funds withdrawal,” Mr. Olapoju said.
The witness further stated that he had always been in regular contact with Mr. Fani-Kayode, until he became minister.
He said the accused then instructed him to always take instruction from his Chief of Staff, Aderemi Ajidahun, on what to do in relation to the estate.
While speaking on the transactions, Mr. Olapoju recalled that Mr. Fani-Kayode had asked him to “urgently” get funds from tenants to pay artisans who carried out repairs in the estate.
“In other to abridge time, I went out of my way to demand that a cheque be issued in my name, since I was in Abuja.
“I cashed the cheque and related with his Chief of Staff (Ajidahun), who later instructed that the cash be deposited in a bank account of the accused by Supo Agbaje, his Personal Assistant.
“I went to the bank with Agbaje, but I did not go into the banking hall with him,” Mr. Olapoju said.
The witness said that the payments were made on September 21 and 29, 2006.
He, however, admitted that he did not see Mr. Agbaje depositing the cash into the account, and did not know whether there was any communication between Agbaje and the accused.
Mr. Ajidahun, testifying as the second defence witness, before the court, said that he was appointed by Fani-Kayode as his Chief of Staff, being an expert in Media, Hospitality and Branding Consultancy.
Mr. Keyamo, while cross-examining the witness, said that he was just out to lie to the court so that his accused-friend could be freed.
The judge, however, adjourned further hearing in the case till March 26, for the testimony of the third defence witness.
Mrs. Ofili-Ajumogobia had earlier dismissed 38 out of the 40 counts against the accused. She ruled that Mr. Fani-Kayode, who speaks for President Goodluck Jonathan’s campaign team, has a case to answer on the other two counts.