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Alleged Fraud: Fresh Investigation Ongoing On Former Ekiti State Governor, Fayose - EFCC

By Francis Iwuchukwu, Lagos

Justice Chukwujekwu Aneke of a Federal High Court sitting in Ikoyi, Lagos State, Nigeria, was on Friday (today) informed that new investigation is ongoing on the former governor of Ekiti State, Ayodele Fayose.

This revelation was made known by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, EFCC.

It would be recalled that the former governor Fayose was to be re-arraigned by the anti-graft agency today, but same could not go on over the development.

Prior to this time, the anti-graft agency had on October 22, 2018, arraigned the former governor over allegation of fraud to the tune of N2.2bn before Justice Mojisola Olatoregun.

Fayose was arraigned together with his firm, Spotless Limited, on an 11 counts charge bordering on criminal breach of trust, theft and money laundering.

The prosecution had opened trial on November 19, 2018, and had called 13 witnesses out of the 15 witnesses listed when the EFCC initiated a petition to the Chief Judge, CJ, of the Federal High Court, Justice Adamu Abdu-Kafarati, demanding that the case be transferred from Justice Olatoregun and the case was subsequently transferred to Justice Aneke.

When the matter came up today, Fayose's lawyer, Ola Olanipekun (SAN), hinted Justice Aneke of the existence of an application before the court seeking that the matter be returned to the former trial judge, Justice Olatoregun.

According to Olanipekun (SAN), “We filed an application seeking that this matter be returned to your learned brother, Justice Olatoregun who has indeed heard 13 out of 15 witnesses in this suit.

“Whether or not we are going to proceed with the application is another issue, this is a criminal proceeding where the EFCC is a nominal complainant and the main complainant is the Federal Republic of Nigeria.”

The 2nd defendants' lawyer, Olalekan Ojo (SAN), while aligning himself with the position of Olanipekun (SAN) informed Justice Aneke that the transfer of the case to another judge by the CJ was a rape on the rule of law, adding that the defendants have been foited with the situation of total helplessness.

Ojo (SAN) noted that, “The administrative decision of the CJ of the Federal High Court is an example par excellence of a rape on the rule of law and it is sad precedence in the administration of the criminal justice law in Nigeria.

“Unfortunately, the defendants have been foisted with the situation of total helplessness and victory in respect of this application is not of any benefit to the defendants giving that Justice Olatoregun would be retiring in November.”

This prompted the defendants' lawyer to pray for a stand down to enable them to confer with their clients on whether the application before the court should be moved and Justice Aneke stood the matter down.

When the matter resumed, Olanipekun (SAN) told Justice Aneke that the defendants had opted to withdraw the objection to the arraignment.

The senior lawyer said, “In view of the fact that my Lord Justice Olatoregun’s tenure on the bench will soon come to an end, the defendant has opted to withdraw all objections to transfer of the case file to this honourable court as we have no preference whatsoever for a particular judge.

“We have absolute confidence in your Lordship but our concern was merely for the rule of law and that this suit should not be cited as precedent that the CJ can transfer any case that is personal.”

Immediately after the application was withdrawn, lawyer to the EFCC, S.A Obafemi, informed the court that the arraignment of the ex-governor could not go on as he was being investigated in other matters.

Obafemi argued that, “This matter is coming up for the first time before your lordship for the first time and the information we gathered from our client is that the 1st defendant in this matter is still been investigated for other matters.

“Therefore, the arraignment will not be possible this morning (Friday). We are yet to be briefed by our client on further steps to be taken.

“We apologise to the court but this is the predicament we find ourselves and we crave the indulgence of the court to give another date for the defendants to be arraigned.”

In opposing the application for adjournment and asking the court to allow the defendants to take their plea, Olanipekun noted that the EFCC started investigating the ex-governor before the completion of his tenure as the governor of Ekiti State, adding that the activities of the EFCC which disturbed Fayose’s tenure made him write to the commission notifying it of his intention to submit himself to the anti-graft agency after his tenure.

But Justice Aneke adjourned the matter until July 2, 2019, after upholding the request of the EFCC.

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