A Federal High Court in Lagos on Wednesday fixed Nov. 19 for the trial of ex-Ekiti Governor, Ayodele Fayose to commence, after he was granted bail in the sum of N50 million.
Fayose is standing trial on a charge of N6.9 billion electioneering campaign fraud.
He was arraigned on Oct. 22 by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC), alongside his company, Spotless Investment Ltd. on 11 counts.
Fayose, however, pleaded not guilty to the charges and the court ordered his remand in EFCC custody and adjourned the case for hearing of his bail application.
On Wednesday, the former governor’s Defence Counsel, Mr Kanu Agabi (SAN), a former Attorney General of the Federation, moved a motion for the bail of the accused before the court.
He told the court that the application was dated Oct. 22 and brought, pursuant to the inherent jurisdiction of the court.
Agabi argued that there was presumption of innocence of an accused until guilt was established, adding that the former governor was eager to see the conclusion of the case before the court and so, would not jump bail.
He told the court that Fayose willfully submitted himself to the EFCC immediately after leaving office as governor, which showed his readiness to face the charges.
The defence counsel urged the court to grant bail to the accused on self-recognisance as a former governor.
However, the Prosecutor Mr Rotimi Jacobs (SAN), objected to the application and informed the court that a counter-affidavit in opposition to bail had been filed.
According to him, although bail is a constitutional right but there are limitations.
“The issue of presumption of innocence has to do with trial and for now, no one is saying he is guilty,” he said.
The counsel said that the prosecution was also eager for an accelerated hearing of the case and urged the court to order an accelerated trial.
Jacobs also opposed the application for bail on self-recognisance, on the grounds that being a former governor was not a yardstick for granting bail as it did not guarantee attendance of the accused in court.
He expressed his concern that intelligence reports revealed that the accused would interfere with witnesses and proceedings and might jump bail if granted.
Jacobs urged the court to refuse Fayose bail on the arguments he canvassed.
In a short ruling, Justice Mojisola Olatoregun noted that the allegations proffered by prosecution in its counter- affidavit were grave, but that the accused would be given a benefit of doubt.
The court, consequently held that “the defendant is admitted to bail in the sum of N50 million with one surety in like sum”.
She added that the surety must present a bond of N50 million from a reputable insurance company or a first line bank, acceptable to the court.
The judge held that there must also be the production of three years tax clearance, while the accused must ensure he attended court for trial unfailingly, otherwise, the bond would be forfeited.
The court ordered that the international passport of the accused should be deposited in the court’s registry.
She adjourned the case until Nov. 19 for trial.
According to the charge, on June 17, 2014, Fayose and Agbele were said to have taken possession of the sum of N1.2 billion, for purposes of funding his gubernatorial election campaign in Ekiti State, which sum they reasonably ought to have known formed part of crime proceeds.
Fayose was alleged to have received a cash payment 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 and which sum exceeded the amount allowed by law.
He was also alleged to have retained N300 million in his Zenith Bank account and also took control of the aggregate sums of about N622 million, which sum he ought to have known, formed part of crime proceeds.
Fayose was alleged to have procured De Privateer Ltd. and Still Earth Ltd., to retain in their Zenith and FCMB accounts, the aggregate sums of N851 million which they reasonably ought to have known formed part of crime proceeds.
Besides, the accused 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.
The accused 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 formed crime proceeds.
The offences contravened 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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