Temporary reprieve yesterday came the way of former Governor of Ekiti State, Ayodele Fayose as Justice Mojisola Olatoregun of the Federal High Court in Lagos granted him bail in the sum of N50 million with two sureties in like sum and adjourned to Nov 19.Fayose, who is standing trial before the court on an 11- count charge of laundering the sum of N6.9 billion, was also ordered by the judge that his two sureties must issue a ₦50 million bond from a reputable bank as well as possess three year’s tax clearance.The court further ordered that the former governor must deposit his passport with the court and must not travel outside the court’s jurisdiction during the proceedings without the court’s permission. The Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) had Arraigned Fayose before the court alongside his company, Spotless Limited and one Abiodun Agbele for money laundering and fraud.
The commission accused the former governor of taking possession of the sum of N1.2 billion on June 17, 2014 for purposes of funding his gubernatorial election campaign in Ekiti State, which sum they reasonably ought to have known formed part of crime proceeds. The EFCC also alleged that Fayose received a cash payment of the sum 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. The commission further claimed that the accused persons allegedly retained the sum of N300 million in his Zenith Bank account and 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. The accused persons were also 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 forms crime proceeds.
The offences contravenes 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. Fayose, however, pleaded not guilty to the charge. While arguing the bail application on Monday, the defence counsel, Chief Kanu Agabi (SAN) urged the court to grant bail to his client based on self-recognizance on the ground that he voluntarily submitted himself to the EFCC. Agabi maintained that there is a presumption of innocence of an accused person until guilt is established, he also stated that the ex-governor is very eager to see the conclusion of the charges before the court and so, will not jump bail. He further stated that Fayose willfully submitted himself to the EFCC, immediately after leaving office as governor, which shows his readiness to face the charge. However, the anti-graft agency, through its lawyer, Rotimi Jacobs (SAN) argued that although bail is a constitutional right there were limitations. Jacobs also prayed the court not to grant the embattled former governor bail on the ground that the issue of presumption of innocence has to do with trial and for now, no one is saying he is guilty. Jacobs claimed that when the accused person arrived at the EFCC headquarters in Abuja, he was accompanied by hoodlums who were willing to attack their officials. The lawyer also submitted that they are still tracing other properties acquired by the former governor with the proceeds of the alleged laundered funds. In a short ruling, Justice Olatoregun held that the allegations proffered by prosecution in its counter affidavit were grave, but that the accused would be given a benefit of doubt. She then adjourned the case until November 19 for trial.
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