By Akin Kuponiyi
The First Bank relationship Manager, Mr Taiwo Ogundein, today told a Federal high court sitting in Lagos south west Nigeria how various sums of monies were deposited in tranches into the account of a company called Still Earth Ltd., as the trial of the former Governor of Ekiti State, Peter Ayodele Fayose resumes.
Mr Ogundein while being led in evidence by the EFCC prosecutor, Mr Rotimi Jacobs (SAN) told the court that Still Earth has an existing account with First bank which was moved to him for relationship management.
He further told the court that, he was invited by the EFCC in 2015 through his bank with respect to the company, adding that he was instructed to come along with its account opening package and statement of the account, he was asked several questions at the commission, and he answered same with supporting documents.
Thereafter, Mr Jacob then tendered before the court a first bank letter to the commison which the court admitted and marked as exhibit.
He described page one of the document as being the signature mandate and account statement of Still Earth, while next page was a certificate of identification confirming the statement, on November 12, 2014 Still earth gave various deposits instructions into its account totalling N34.8 million made in four tranches.
On January 9 and 30, 2015, the account received inflows of N40 million and N39.5 million , paid by Hoff Concepts Ltd and De Privateers Ltd respectively, while on January 30, there was an outflow from Still Earth of N70.7 million to another company Capital Field Investment and Trust Ltd.
He said that on same day, there was an outflow of N105.7 million and N35 million to same Capital Field Investment, as well as an inflow of N132 million from another company Samchase Ltd.
On February 11, 2015 there was an inflow of N200 million from De privateer, while on May 13, 2016 there was an inflow of N47 million from same de Privateer.
Meanwhile under cross examination by defence counsel, Ola Olanipekun (SAN) and Olalekan Ojo (SAN) the witness told the court that he was not aware of any record of transaction involving Fayose, adding that he could not see the name of Fayose or Spotless Ltd from the exhibit tendered before the court, confirming that any banking procedure or transaction whether payment or deposit, must be backed by document.
When asked whether the bank considered any of the transactions in the exhibit to be illegal or suspicious, the witness replied that he was not in a position to speak for the bank, but that the bank complied with instructions of its customers, adding that any suspicious transaction will not be treated by the bank.
The presiding judge Chukwujekwu Aneke has adjourned till Tuesday for trial to continue.
Before the case was transferred to the present court, the prosecution had called about five witnesses, from several commercial banks, as well as a former Minister of State for Defence, Senator Musiliu Obanikoro.
On June 17, 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, 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 five million dollars, (about N1.8 billion) from the then Minister of State for Defence, Sen. Musiliu Obanikoro, without going through any financial institution.
He was also alleged to have retained the sum of N300 million in his account and took control of the aggregate sums of about N622 million which sum he reasonably ought to have known formed part of crime proceeds.
Fayose was alleged to have procured De Privateer Ltd and Still Earth Ltd, to retain the aggregate sums of N851 million which they reasonably ought to have known formed part of crime proceeds.
Besides, the defendant was alleged to have used the aggregate sums of about N1.6 billion to acquire properties in Lagos and Abuja, which sums he reasonably ought to have known formed part of crime proceeds.
He 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 proceeds of crime
The offences alleged to have been committed contravenes the provisions of sections 15(1), 15 (2), 15 (3), 16(2)(b), 16 (d), and 18 (c) of the money laundering Act.
According to the charge, Fayose was alleged to have procured the companies Still Earth Ltd and De Privateer Ltd, to retain in their account the aggregate sums of N851 million
Fayose is being prosecuted by the Economic and Financial Crimes Ccommission (EFCC) over N6.9billion fraud and money laundering charges.
He was first arraigned on Oct. 22. 2018, before Justice Mojisola Olatotegun, alongside his company, Spotless Investment Ltd, on 11 counts bordering on fraud and money laundering offences.
He pleaded not guilty to the charge and was granted bail on Oct. 24, 2018, in the sum of N50 million with sureties in like sum.