6.9B Fraud: How Obanikoro Took Delivery Of Funds From Lagos Airport- Witness

A Staff of Diamond bank and a prosecution witness in the ongoing trial of former Governor of Ekiti , Ayodele Fayose before a Lagos Federal High Court, Damola Otuyena yesterday told the court how former Minister, Musiliu Obanikoro, took delivery of 1.2Billion naira from the bank.

The witness, Otuyena who told the court that he heads a department in the bank known as ' Cash In Transit' narrated before Justice Mojisola Olatoregun how funds were moved from the bank  to the airport and how the erstwhile Senator collected it.

The prosecution on Monday opened its case against Ayodele Fayose, charged with N6.9 billion fraud.

Fayose was arraigned by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) on Oct. 22 alongside his company — Spotless Investment Ltd on 11 counts.

He had pleaded not guilty to the charges, and the court granted him bail in the sum of N50million with one surety in like sum and adjourned until Monday the case for trial.

Led in evidence by the EFCC prosecuting counsel, Mr Rotimi Jacobs the witness recounts how he was instructed by his director, one Mr. Premier Ohuwoh instructed him to  pay the said cash to six beneficiaries.

He however said his superior later called him that the cash be taken to the Murutala Muhammad Airport in Ikeja and that the beneficiary will come for it.

"When we got to the airport, we could not gain access and I called my boss, he said someone was coming to meet us.
Few minutes later, one Gbolahan Obanikoro came and helped us process our pass into the airport.

"Afterwards, Senator Musiliu Obanikoro came , my boss called me again and told me he was to be given the cash," he said.

Otuyena also said the cash was packed in the bank's biggest cash bag known as 'jumbo bags' and Ghana must go bags.

"We loaded the money in three different aircrafts at the private wing of the airport while Obanikoro signed for the collection of the money, in line with our banking procedure.

While being cross-examined by one of the defence counsel, Messrs Kanu Agabi (SAN) and Olalekan Ojo (SAN) who represented the first and second accused respectively, the witness said the identity of the six beneficiaries meant to be paid the cash were not made available to his department.

He further told the court that he is not aware of any resolution that says Obanikoro owns the account.
When asked what happened to the money after it was handed over to Obanikoro, he told the court that he do not know what became of the said cash.

Earlier at the resume of the proceedings, the prosecution had called a witness from Diamond bank, Olaitan Fajuyitan, also narrated his involvement in the transaction.

Under cross-examination, he said the payment was automated by CBN and Diamond bank won't do any transaction that is not legitimate.

The first prosecution witness, Mr Lawrence Akande, a banker in a commercial bank in charge of South West 1, comprising Ogun, Oyo and Osun States also told the court that in June 2014, he was called by one Abiodun Agbele, who informed him that he had about N1.2 billion cash lodgement to make in Akure.

He told the court that afterwards, he also received a call from Fayose on the same issue, adding that since the lodgement was in Akure, he placed a call across to his colleague in Akure to follow up same.

“This is all I know on this issue,” he said

When asked if he knew the second accused, (Spotless Ltd), he replied that the company is a customer of his bank with account at Dugbe branch.

The prosecutor then showed the witness some account opening document of Spotless Nig. Ltd, De Privateer Ltd, Still Earth Ltd as well as account document of first accused.

The witness confirmed the document and they were admitted by the court and marked exhibit A.

When asked where the account of Fayose was domiciled, the witness replied ” It is not domiciled within my domain but from the document before me here I can see Apapa,”

Prosecutor: ” Tell the court if the People’s Democratic Party (PDP) maintained an account with your bank,” He said many other political parties have accounts in their bank.

During cross examination, the witness told the court that he made statements to the EFCC, on June 6, 2016, and confirmed that he made no mention of the first accused in his earlier statement

Being cross-examined by defence counsel, (Agabi) he said that he only made mention of Fayose in his subsequent statements.

Defence then asked ” you said your colleagues handled the transactions, so it means your narration here is based on what you were told,”

 "I was told how the cash was processed, we solicited for patronage on the opening of government account with out bank, because part of my business is to look for deposits.”

He further confirmed to the court that a person who is not a signatory to an account cannot make withdrawals from such account.

According to the witness, there are withdrawal limits in every account and where withdrawals are to be made above the stipulated limits, it is reported to the Nigeria Financial Intelligence Unit (NFIU) to investigate such transaction.

Ojo: “With respect to cash lodgments into these companies, your bank never lodge any report of suspicious transaction, ”

The witness replied”We had no reason to do so,”

Ojo: “Do you confirm stating to the EFCC that before the account opening of De Privateer, the sums of N200 million was lodged in the acxount.,” The witness answered in affirmative.

EFCC then called its second witness, Mr Abiodun Oshordi.

The witness introduced himself as the Zonal head of the bank, covering South West 2 which includes, Ondo, Kwara and Ekiti, adding that he also supervises all branches in the three localities.

Prosecutor: “Cast your mind to 2014 and tell the court what you know in relation to this case,”

The witness told the court that he received a call from his colleague (Akande) that Agbele will be coming to make some lodgments and that he should organise a bullion van.

He said that he waited for Agbele who arrived with one Sadiku and some escorts, adding that Sen. Musiliu Obanikoro, the then Minister of State for Defence, and his aide, also accompanied them.

According to him, as soon as the aircraft arrived, he moved with the bullion van towards the plane to evacuate the money.

He said that the total sum amounted to N1.2billion, adding that they were lodged into accounts supplied by Agbele.

He said that they include: Spotless Nig. Ltd, De Privateer Ltd as well as personal account of the first accused, while some cash were taken to Ado-Ekiti.

When asked to look at the deposits in the account of Spotless Ltd from June 17 to Aug 4, 2014, he told the court that there was a lodgment of N100million on June 17.

He said that on June 23, there was a cash lodgement of N49milion, on June 24, a cash lodgement of N200,000, while on Aug. 4, there was a cash lodgement of N40 million.

According to him, on same Aug.4, there were also cash lodgements in the sums of N35million, N35million, N24million, N20million and N14 million respectively.

The witness told the court that Agbele made the deposit of June 17, while from the statement before him, he could see that it is written Ayo as depositor of the funds on Aug.4.

Justice Mojisola Olatoregun has adjourned till January 21 and 28, 2019  for continuation of 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 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.

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