A Federal High Court in Lagos on Friday heard that former Ekiti Governor Ayo Fayose allegedly ‘kidnapped’, threatened and compromised an Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) witness in his N3.3billion alleged fraud trial.
EFCC counsel Mr Rotimi Jacobs (SAN) told Justice C.J. Aneke that Fayose secretly met and threatened a bullion van driver with Zenith Bank, Ado-Ekiti branch, Mr Adewale Aladegbola.
He said the incident left the anti-graft agency with no choice but to replace the witness.
He made the allegation at the resumption of proceedings in Fayose’s trial.
Jacobs claimed that as a result of the alleged threat and compromise, when Aladegbola appeared before the former judge handling the case, Justice Mojisola Olatoregun, he turned around in his testimony to give different evidence from what he wrote in his statement at the EFCC office during the investigation.
“I called a witness and he was kidnapped by the defence. The witness was taken over by the defendant (Fayose) and approached by him.
“We obtained a statement from that witness to confirm what happened and I even had to stop further action on the issue by the EFCC”.
“Only in our country that this type of things happen; the witness before Olatoregun J., was compromised by this defendant,” Jacob said.
He accused Fayose of attempting to pervert the course of justice, saying, “If not because of my intervention, this defendant (Fayose) would have been facing another charge.”
Earlier, Fayose’s counsel, Messrs Ola Olanipekun (SAN) and Olalekan Ojo (SAN) opposed the attempt to replace Aladegbola with Johnson Abidakun, who is the Head of Operations, Zenith Bank, Ado-Ekiti branch.
They contended that the prosecution did not have the liberty to change a witness just because such a witness failed to give evidence favourable to them.
Olanipekun and Ojo described the attempt to substitute Aladegbola with Abidakun as an abuse of prosecutorial power by the EFCC.
They alleged that the EFCC wanted to use Abidakun’s evidence to right the wrongs of Aladegbola.
They urged the court to allow them to bring a formal application to address the issue.
“We are coming from the doctrine of prosecutorial misconduct. No prosecutor or any defendant is entitled to abuse the judicial process. This witness was called to right the wrongs of a witness earlier called by the prosecution,” they said.
They prayed Justice Aneke to stop Abidakun from testifying in place of Aladegbola, who had earlier testified before Justice Olatoregun.
But the prosecutor argued that the proceedings before Justice Olatoregun were no longer relevant as the matter started denovo 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 said.
Justice Aneke adjourned till November 28, 2019 for ruling.
In the charge, the EFCC alleged, among others, that Fayose, on June 17, 2014, took possession of N1.219bn “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.”
The ex-governor 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.”