A prosecution witness, Sunday Alade, in the ongoing trial of a former governor of Ekiti State, Ayodele Fayose, on Monday, told Justice Mojisola Olatoregun of the Federal High Court in Ikoyi, Lagos, how the defendant and his company received a sum of N1,219,000,000 from Zenith Bank, Akure Branch in the build-up to the state’s governorship election in 2014.
Mr Fayose was arraigned alongside his company, Spotless Investment Limited, on October 22, 2018, on an 11-count charge bordering on fraud and money laundering.
In his testimony, Sunday Alade, Head, Business Development and Safety, Zenith Bank, Akure branch, Ondo State, said: “On June 17, 2014, I received a call from my Head of Operations, Abiodun Osode, that a customer of the bank would be coming to make a deposit into his account with the bank.
“He also instructed me to provide security as well as the bullion van movement team to pick up the cash from the airport.
“We were later instructed to proceed to the airport, where there would be other mobile policemen and soldiers.
“Mr Osode also called me and introduced one Abiodun Agbele to me, before we all left for the airport.
“At the airport, I was also introduced to Mr Adewale .O, who was the Aide-De-Camp, ADC, to the then Minister of State, Musiliu Obanikoro.
“We had to go twice, as two different planes brought in the money.
“While it was being bundle-counted, a sum of One Billion Two, Hundred and Nineteen Million (N1, 219,000,000.00) was taken to Zenith Bank, Akure Branch.
“I gathered that the cash was lodged into three accounts namely: De-privateer Limited, Spotless Investment Limited and Ayodele Fayose accounts.
“I also understand that part of the money was taken away that day by Mr. Agbele.”
When asked by the prosecuting counsel, Rotimi Jacobs, the department that is responsible for paying and transferring such funds into accounts, the witness told the court that “In this kind of transaction, the Head of Operations would be the one to do that with the authorisation from the signatory to the accounts.”
Also, when asked if there was any complaint that the money was not complete while it was the bank, he said: “I have no knowledge of the money not being complete, while it was in the bank’s possession.”
During cross-examination by counsel to the first defendant, Ola Olanipekun, the witness, while explaining to the court on whose instruction he had gone to the airport, said: “My Head of Operations instructed me to go to the Airport.”
Though the witness, during further cross-examination, told the court that he was not aware of where the money came from or what it was used for, he said: “I was told by my Head of Operations how the money was moved.
“The signatory to an account can make withdrawal and authorize someone who is not a signatory to move money from his account.”
When asked by counsel to the second defendant, Olalekan Ojo, if the bank had a record of the cash transaction in its custody, where the money was kept and how long it took to process that particular transaction, the witness told the court that the record of the money was kept in a boxed cash register because it took about 10 days to process.
In his response to Mr Ojo’s question if he presented the record of the boxed cash register to the EFCC, the witness told the court that it was not his duty to give the commission that piece information and that he was not aware of any information about the boxed cash register transactions.
Mr Ojo further asked the witness to read out some transactions in the exhibit tagged “A series” dated September 6, 2014, October 6, 2014, December 6, 2014, and March 6, 2015.
The witness, while reading it out, told the court that “they were cash transfers titled “Mortgage Repayments Loans of the Sum of Eleven Million, One Hundred and Seventy- three Thousand, Six Hundred and Fifty-two Naira, Eighty- five Kobo (N11, 173,652.85), on each date and also a mortgage Loan Liquidation transfer.
Consequently, Mr Ojo stated that it was obvious that Spotless Investment Limited was repaying a loan it obtained from Zenith Bank.
He further asked the witness if he was aware of a sister charge at the Federal High Court, Abuja in respect of the charge, to which the witness responded in the affirmative.
Justice Olatoregun adjourned the case to May 10 and 14, 2019 for the continuation of trial.