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Alleged N6.9bn fraud: Absence of Obanikoro stalls Fayose’s trial

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Alleged N6.9bn fraud: Absence of Obanikoro stalls Fayose’s trial

The trial of former Gov. Ayodele Fayose of Ekiti before a Federal High Court Lagos was stalled on Monday, following the absence of the 12th prosecution witness, Mr Musiliu Obanikoro.

Obanikoro, a former Minister of State for Defence, who began his evidence on Jan. 31, is still undergoing cross-examination by the defence.

Fayose is being prosecuted by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) over alleged fraud and money laundering charges.

The former governor was first arraigned on Oct. 22, 2018, before Justice Mojisola Olatoregun alongside his company, Spotless Investment Ltd, on 11 counts bordering on fraud and money laundering offences.

He had pleaded not guilty to the charges and was granted bail on Oct. 24, 2018, in the sum of N50 million with two sureties in like sum.

The defendant was, however, subsequently re-arraigned before Justice Chukwujekwu Aneke, on July 2, 2019, after the case was withdrawn from Justice Olatoregun following EFCC’s petition.

He had also pleaded not guilty to the charges and was allowed to continue on the earlier bail granted, while the case was adjourned for trial.

The commission has since opened its case before Justice Aneke and is still leading witnesses in evidence.

When the case was called on Monday, Mr Rotimi Jacobs (SAN) announced an appearance for the prosecution, while Mr Olalekan Ojo (SAN) appeared for the second defendant.

Meanwhile, Mr Ahmed T. held the brief of Mr Ola Olanipekun (SAN) for the first defendant.

The prosecutor, who informed the court that the case was for continuation of cross-examination of Pw12, added that he was informed by the witness’ aide that he was out of the country.

Specifically, Jacobs urged the court to grant an adjournment to the already existing dates in June.

This application for adjournment was not opposed by the defence counsel.

Ojo, second defence counsel, however, said that if “the trend continues on the next adjourned date”, he would have no choice but to make the “necessary application”.

On his part, the first defence counsel informed the court of an application seeking leave of the court for medical travel of the defendant.

He told the court that his application was dated May 5 but filed today.

The prosecutor did not oppose this application.

Justice Aneke, consequently, granted the defendant’s application to travel for medicals.

He adjourned the case to the already existing dates of June 6 and June 8 for continuation of trial.

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