The N2.2bn fraud trial of former Ekiti State Governor Ayodele Fayose resumed on Monday with the court admitting in evidence a statement made by one late Mr Justin Erukaa, who worked as 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.
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.
Ojo said Erukaa’s statement was relevant to the case, adding that it could be admitted in the absence of the deceased.
“In law, the first litmus test of admissibility is relevance. Obanikoro said in his testimony that he sent Erukaa on errands, including to collect $1m and he came and met him in Ekiti,” Ojo had told the court.
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 NSA, 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.”
But when asked if the Office of the National Security Adviser funded his campaign while he was vying for governorship on the platform of the Peoples Democratic Party, Obanikoro said, “Not to my knowledge.”
He said he had no records of his transactions with the NSA.
He, however, said he would not be surprised if the record of the NSA showed no N2.2bn transaction.
Justice Olatoregun adjourned further proceedings till Tuesday.
The EFCC 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 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 Senator Musiliu Obanikoro, the then Minister of State for Defence, which sum exceeded the amount authorised by law and you thereby committed an offence contrary to sections 1 and 16(d) of the Money Laundering (Prohibition) Act, 2011 (as amended) and punishable under Section 16 (2)(b) of the same Act.”
In another count, Fayose was accused of “using an aggregate sum of N1,151,711,573 to acquire chalets 3 and 4; and 5 and 9 of the property situate at Plot 100 Tiamiyu Savage Street, Victoria Island, Lagos in the name of JJ Technical Service.”
Fayose was equally accused of purchasing a property at Plot 1504, Yedsema Street, Maitama, Abuja for N270m from one Rabi Kundili.
The former governor was also alleged to have purchased another property at No.44, Osun Crescent, Maitama, Abuja for N200m in the name of his elder sister, Moji Oladeji.
The former governor and the firm pleaded not guilty to the charges.