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Fayose’s trial: Court admits dead man’s statement

A Federal High Court sitting in Lagos yesterday admitted in evidence a statement made by one late Justin Erukaa, who had worked as a personal assistant to Mr Musiliu Obanikoro, before his death.

In a short ruling, Justice Mojisola Olatoregun admitted Erukaa’s statement and marked it as exhibit J in the ongoing trial of former governor of Ekiti State, Ayodele Fayose ,over an alleged N2.2bn fraud.

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The second defence counsel, Mr Olalekan Ojo (SAN), had at the previous hearing tendered the statement,which Erukaa made to the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission in the course of investigating the alleged N2.2bn fraud against Fayose.

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Ojo said Erukaa’s statement was relevant to the case, adding that it could be admitted in the absence of the deceased.

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After the judge admitted Erukaa’s statement in evidence, the case proceeded with further cross-examination of Obanikoro, who is the fifth witness to testify for the EFCC against Fayose.

While fielding questions from Mr Ahmed Tafa, who stood in for Ojo, Obanikoro reiterated that he was into farming, with his farms in Lagos, Badagry and Ogun State.

He also confirmed knowing a company, MOB Integrated Limited.

“That company is owned by my son,” the former Minister of State for Defence said.

When asked by Tafa if he knew that staff members of MOB Integrated Limited were signatories to the bank account of Fayose’s co-accused, Sylvan Mcmanara Ltd, Obanikoro said: “I don’t know what you are talking about.”

He explained again that then National Security Adviser, Sambo Dasuki, entered into an agreement with Taiwo Kareem, who owns Sylvan Mcmanara Ltd, to use the firm’s account for the disbursement of funds for security operations in Lagos.

Obanikoro said after the agreement with Kareem, he took over Sylvan Mcmanara Ltd’s account in supervisory capacity, adding that all the major decisions taken on the account were cleared with him.

“There were three transactions. One was for the security of Lagos; one for election in Ekiti and for election in Osun State,” he said.

When Tafa asked if “matters of elections were matters of security,” Obanikoro said:“They can be.”

Justice Olatoregun adjourned further proceedings till Tuesday.

The EFCC had  on October 22, 2018 arraigned Fayose and Sylvan Mcmanara Ltd on 11 counts bordering on criminal breach of trust, stealing and money laundering.

Among other things, the EFCC had alleged that on June 17, 2014, Fayose “took possession of the sum of N1, 219, 000,000 to fund your 2014 gubernatorial campaign in Ekiti State, which you reasonably ought to have known formed part of the proceeds of an unlawful act, to wit: criminal breach of trust/stealing.”

He was also alleged to have on the same day “received a cash payment of $5,000,000 from Obanikoro, the then Minister of State for Defence, which sum exceeded the amount authorised by law.

Justice Olatoregun adjourned further proceedings to day.

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