Former Governor of Ekiti State, Ayodele Fayose on Monday lost his bid to stop the Head of Operations, Zenith Bank, Ado-Ekiti branch, Johnson Abidakun from testifying against him in his on going N3.3 billion fraud trial.
Fayose, who is facing a N3.3 billion fraud charge, had filed an interlocutory application to prevent the move by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) to replace the name of a bullion van driver with Zenith Bank, Adewale Aladegbola with that of Abidakun on the list of witnesses.
The EFCC had accused Fayose, who is facing an 11-count charge, alongside his firm, Spotless Investment Limited, of going behind to meet and threaten Aladegbola, who had already testified as a witness, when the case was before Justice Mojisola Olatoregun.
This allegations was denied by the former governor and his company, they submitted that the prosecution did not have the liberty to change a witness just because such a witness failed to give evidence favourable to them.
The defendants had argued that allowing a change of witness was an abuse of court processes by the prosecution.
But the EFCC through its lawyer, Rotimi Jacobs (SAN) maintained that the EFCC was at liberty to replace Aladegbola with Abidakun since the case was starting afresh before Justice Aneke.
Jacobs maintained that the proceedings before Justice Olatoregun were no longer relevant as the matter had started afresh when the case was transferred to Justice Aneke.
“To prevent this witness from testifying will run afoul of Section 379 of the Administration of Criminal Justice Act, 2015,” Jacobs argued.
While ruling on the application, Justice Aneke agreed with the prosecution and dismissed the objection by the defence.
The judge ruled, “This is a fresh trial, the parties are at liberty to call any witness that they desire in proof of their case.
“As a result, the defendants/applicants’ interlocutory summons is dismissed for lack of merit,” the court held.
The judge then adjourned the matter to May 5 and 6 for the continuation of trial.
The EFCC had claimed in the charge that 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 also 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 further accused of having 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.