Musiliu Obanikoro

How my aide died after making statement to EFCC, says Obanikoro

NEWS DIGEST–The N2.2bn fraud trial of former Governor Ayodele Fayose of Ekiti State and one Spotless Limited continued on Tuesday with further cross-examination of Mr Musiliu Obanikoro, who is the fifth prosecution witness.

Fayose and Spotless Limited are being tried on 11 counts bordering on criminal breach of trust, stealing and money laundering before the Federal High Court in Lagos.

At the instance of Spotless Limited’s lawyer, Mr Olalekan Ojo (SAN), Justice Mojisola Olatoregun had in a ruling on Monday admitted into evidence an extrajudicial statement made by one late Mr Justin Erukaa, who worked as Special Assistant to Obanikoro, before his death.

In admitting Erukaa’s statement as Exhibit J, the judge overruled the objection raised by the prosecuting counsel for the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, Mr Rotimi Jacobs (SAN), to the admissibility of the document.

At the resumed trial on Tuesday, Obanikoro, while being further cross-examined by Ojo, affirmed that Erukaa died after he had made an extrajudicial statement to the EFCC.

“This Justin Erukaa, who was one of your Special Assistants, can you tell the court how you got to know about his death after making Exhibit J?” Ojo further asked.

Responding, Obanikoro said, “He (Erukaa) left Lagos a day before Sallah about two years ago, and the police called one of my SAs that the owner of the phone just had an accident and died on the spot; and he (the other SA) immediately called me and informed me.”

Asked by Ojo whether he attended Erukaa’s burial, Obanikoro said, “I was there with my family.”

Following a few further questions, Ojo told the court that he was done with Obanikoro, whose testimony began on January 21 and spanned five adjournments.

After Obanikoro stepped down from the witness box, the prosecution invited its sixth witness, Mr Olugboyega Falae, a banker, who was questioned about a property known as No. 44, Osun Crescent, Maitama, Abuja.

The EFCC had in one of the 11 counts against Fayose, alleged that the former governor purchased “a property at No.44, Osun Crescent, Maitama, Abuja for N200m” in the name of his elder sister, Moji Oladeji.

Upon the conclusion of Falae’s evidence-in-chief and cross-examination, the judge adjourned till Wednesday (today) for further proceedings.

In the charges against him, the EFCC, among other things, 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.”

But the governor, alongside his co-defendant, Spotless Limited, has pleaded not guilty.