An Executive staff of Zenith Bank Plc, Dr. Abiodun Oshode, on Tuesday told Justice Chukwujekwu Aneke of the Federal High Court in Lagos that the sum of N1.2 billion was moved to the bank’s branch in Akure on behalf of a former Governor of Ekiti State, Dr. Peter Ayodele Fayose.
Oshode also told the judge that he personally took a bullion van to the Akure Airport in Ondo State to evacuate N1.219 billion cash from an aircraft in 2014.
He alleged that Zenith bank rendered the service to move the money at the request of the former Governor’s aide, Abiodun Agbele and that it was deposited in three accounts, including Fayose’s personal bank account.
The Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) had Arraigned Fayose before the court alongside his company, Spotless Limited over money laundering and fraud allegations.
The former governor and his company are standing trial on an 11 count charge of laundering the sum of N3.3 billion.
Oshode, an Assistant General Manager/Zonal Head of South West 2 of Zenith Bank, while testifying as the second prosecution witness in the case said he got a call from his bank’s Zonal Head for South West, Dr. Lawrence Akande, about a business transaction billed for Akure.
The witness, who was led in evidence by the counsel to the anti-graft agency, Rotimi Jacobs (SAN), claimed that “On 17th June, 2014, my colleague, Lawrence Akande, called me that there are some cash deposits that will be coming to Akure Airport. He said I should organize a bullion van for its evacuation.
“Akande said the customer of the bank who is the signatory to the account of De-Privateer Nigeria Ltd will be coming to meet me in the branch for us to go to the Airport together. I later organized with the Akure Branch Manager, Oluseye Alabi, to arrange for the bullion van”, Oshode said.
The witness said as expected the signatory to the De-Privateer Account, Abiodun Agbele, one, Sadiku and some security officials later showed up and they all went to the Airport together.
“We waited a while before the Aircraft came. The ADC to a former Minister of State for Defence, Senator Musiliu Obanikoro also came to join us. The bullion van was moved to the Aircraft. The minister was also at the Airport, but we did not have any interaction.
“The cash was evacuated to the bullion van from the Aircraft for processing. The money was around N1.2 billion. When we got Akure Branch, I handed over the money to the Branch Manager for processing and three accounts were supplied by Biodun Agbele for lodging the money”, he also said.
Oshode listed the three accounts provided by Agbele as those of De-Privateer Nig. Ltd, Spotless Nigeria Ltd and personal account of Ayodele Fayose.
Responding to a question from Fayose’s lawyer, Ola Olanipekun (SAN), the witness said he does not know the source of the N1.2 billion and that the bank’s compliance department lodged a report to appropriate authorities over the huge sum.
He added that pursuant to the lodged report, there was no instruction for the halting of the transaction, an indication that it was deemed appropriate.
When the second defence lawyer, Mr Olalekan Ojo (SAN), asked Oshode that, “At no time did you see the 1st defendant (Fayose) filling any teller at any branch of your bank, either in Ekiti or Akure,” the banker said, “Excellency will not do that.”
Further hearing in the trial continues on Wednesday.
According to the charge filed by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC), on 17th June, 2014, Fayose and one, Abiodun 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 $5 million (about N1.8 billion) from a former Minister of State for Defence, Senator Musiliu Obanikoro, without going through any financial institution and which sum exceeded the amount allowed by law.
He was also alleged to have retained the sum of N300 million in his 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.
The former governor was also alleged to have procured De Privateer Ltd and Still Earth Ltd, to retain the aggregate sums of N851 million in his bank account which they reasonably ought to have known formed part of crime proceeds.
Besides, the accused was alleged to have used the aggregate sums of about N1.6 billion to acquire property 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.