Justice Mojisola Olatoregun of the Federal High Court in Lagos yesterday admitted in evidence, an extrajudicial statement made by Justine Erukaa, a Special Assistant to former Minister of State for Defence, Senator Musiliu Obanikoro, who is now deceased.
The judge, while ruling on the admissibility of the document, held that it is admissible in law but that the court would determine the weight to be attached to it later during the course of the trial.
LEADERSHIP recalls that Olalekan Ojo (SAN) counsel to Spotless Limited, a company owned by a former Governor of Ekiti State, Ayodele Fayose, had urged the court to admit the extra-judicial statement in evidence because it was very important to his client’s case.
He argued that the most important element for consideration, in situations like this, is the relevance of the document sought to be tendered and that the statement is different from the weight that the court would attached to it at the end of the case.
But the counsel to the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC), Rotimi Jacobs asked the court to dismiss the argument of the defence lawyer because the extrajudicial statement is a hearsay evidence.
He submitted that the only use that the document can be put to is to contradict the maker but since the maker is not charge or is a witness in the case the statement cannot be tendered or admitted as an exhibit in the case.
In her ruling on Monday, Justice Olatoregun held that Sections 39 and 49 of the Evidence Act make such a document admissible.
The judge stated that the issue was what weight the court would attach to the statement, which was the court’s to determine.
The EFCC had in the charge accused Fayose and one Abiodun Agbele of taken 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.
He, however, pleaded not guilty to 11-count charge last October 22 when it was read to him.
While being cross examination yesterday, Obanikoro testified that there were no records of the money sent to him from the office NSA.
He said, “We’re dealing with security issues. It can be called anything just to protect the transactions. They can be characterised as anything.”
The former Minister also claimed that there was no contract awarded before the fund was transferred, adding that he supervised Sylvan Mcnamara Ltd’s account from which the fund was disbursed.
He said funds paid into the account were for the security of Lagos, and for election purposes in Ekiti and Osun states.
“I only took supervisory responsibility of the account during the transactions for Lagos, Ekiti and Osun.
“No contract was signed. Matters of election can be matters of security. Political matters can also be security-related,” Obanikoro said.
Asked if he would be surprised that the ONSA denied paying N2.2billion to Sylvan Mcnamara’s account, Obanikoro said: “I won’t be surprised.”
The matter continues today.
The anti-graft agency 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 accused the former governor of taken 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 was 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.
The accused persons, however, pleaded not guilty to the charge.
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