A Federal High Court in Lagos on Monday admitted in evidence an extra judicial statement of a dead man, Justin Erukaa, in the trial of former Gov. Ayodele Fayose of Ekiti facing charges of N6.9 bilion fraud.
Fayose was arraigned by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) on Oct. 22, 2018, alongside a company, Spotless Investment Ltd., on 11 counts.
He, however, pleaded not guilty to the charge, and the court granted him bail in the sum of N50 million with one surety in like sum.
EFCC opened its case on Nov. 19, 2018.
On Jan. 21, 2019, the EFCC called its fifth witness, Sen. Musiliu Obanikoro, a former Minister of State for Defence.
At the last adjourned date, on Feb. 5, Obanikoro was still under cross-examination by defence counsel, Mr Olalekan Ojo (SAN), who had cross-examined him on the extra judicial statement of one Mr Justin Erukaa, said to be late.
EfCC counsel, Mr Rotimi Jacobs (SAN), had objected to the tendering and admissibility of the said statement, on the grounds that the maker was not called as a witness.
The judge, consequently, ordered counsel to address the court on the admissibility of an extra judicial statement made by a party not called as a witness.
Respective counsel, thus, addressed the court.
On Monday, the judge, Justice Mojisola Olatoregun, first delivered ruling on the admissibility of the extra judicial statement.
The court held that it might, within the contemplation of Sections 39 and 46 of the Evidence Act, be able to admit the extra judicial statement of Justin Erukaa, who is said to be dead.
The judge, however, held, “The weight to be attached to the document is another matter entirely.”
The court accordingly admitted the document and marked it as Exhibit J.
In continuation of cross-examination of Obanikoro, Mr Ahmed Tarfa, holding brief for Ojo, asked the witness, “You told the court that you took charge of the account of Silver Macnamara?”
Obanikoro replied, “Yes.”
Defence counsel then asked the witness to look at Exhibit E series, particularly exhibit E37, and tell the court if he directed the payment of June 6.
The witness replied, “Yes, I directed the payment.”
Defence counsel asked him to tell the court his relationship with Rehoboth Homes.
Witness replied, “I have no relationship with them other than transaction that has to do with exchange of dollars.”
Defence counsel asked, “You told this court that you were a farmer?”
The witness said, “Yes”, and defence counsel asked him where he was farming.
Witness, “I have one in Ogun, Badagry and Lagos.”
On whether he knows a company called M. O. B Integrated Company and who owns it, the witness replied, “Yes”, adding that the company belonged to his son.
Defence, “Do you know that the signatories of Silver Macnamara which you took charge of were staffers of M. O. B Ltd.?”
The witness said he did not know.
On whether he knows the company T. G. I Energy Ltd. and his relationship with the company, Obanikoro replied that he had no relationship with the company.
On whether a former National Security Adviser, Sambo Dasuki, funded the campaign of the PDP at the time, the witness said he did not know.
In reply to further questions by defence counsel, Obanikoro testified that there were three transactions on the account of Silver Macnamara – for security of Lagos State, for the election in Ekiti and for the election in Osun.
According to him, that of Lagos was strictly for security matters, for which no contract was awarded.
Continuation of trial will resume on Tuesday.
According to the EFCC, on June 17, 2014, Fayose and one Agbele took possession of N1.2 billion for purposes of funding Fayose’s gubernatorial election campaign.
The EFCC said that the duo reasonably ought to know that the sum formed part of crime proceeds.
Fayose was alleged to have received a cash payment of five million dollars, (about N1.8 billion) from Obanikoro, the then Minister of State for Defence, without going through any financial institution.
The sum exceeded the amount allowed by law.
He was also alleged to have retained the N300 million in his Zenith Bank account and took control of the aggregate sums of about N622 million, which he ought to have known formed part of crime proceeds.
Fayose was alleged to have procured De Privateer Ltd. and Still Earth Ltd. to unlawfully retain in their Zenith and FCMB accounts, the aggregate sums of N851 million.
Besides, the defendant was alleged to have unlawfully used about N1.6 billion to acquire property in Lagos and Abuja.
The accused was also alleged to have unlawfully used N200 million to acquire a property in Abuja in the name of his elder sister, Moji Oladeji.
The alleged offences contravene Sections 15(1), 15 (2), 15 (3), 16(2)(b), 16 (d), and 18 (c) of the Money Laundering Prohibition Act, 2011. (NAN)