The Chief Judge (CJ) of the Federal High Court of Nigeria, (FHCN) , Justice Adamu Abdul-Kafarati, has declared that the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, (EFCC,) has lost confidence in Justice Mojisola Olatoregun in the ongoing trial of the immediate past governor of Ekiti State, Ayodele Fayose.
Fayose is standing trial over allegation of fraud to the tune of N3.3 billion, slammed on him the by the EFCC.
It would be recalled that on March 20, 2019, during the proceeding, there was an open court altercation between Justice Olatoregun and the prosecuting counsel, Rotimi Jacobs (SAN).
As a result of the altercation, the commission wrote a petition against the judge to the CJ, dated May 21, 2019. It was signed by its acting Chairman, Ibrahim Magu. In the petition, EFCC which raised the need to transfer the case from Justice Olatoregun, noted that it became imperative on the grounds that it had “lost confidence” in her.
Granting the request of the EFCC, the CJ in his response letter dated May 23, reassigned the case to Justice Aneke.
A copy of the letter which granted EFCC request reads: “I refer to the petition of EFCC on this case and your Lordship’s comments thereto.
“It is apparent that the prosecution has lost confidence in the judge trying this case and justice must not only be done but must be seen to have been done; I hereby transfer this case to Hon. Justice C. J. Aneke for hearing.”
The former governor was on October 22, 2018, arraigned by the EFCC alongside his company, Spotless Limited, on an 11-count charge of alleged N3.3 billion fraud before Justice Olatoregun.
But Fayose pleaded not guilty to the charge and was subsequently admitted to bail in the sum of N50 million with one surety in like sum.
According to the charge, 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 State, 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 $5 million (about N1.8 billion) from a former Minister of State for Defence, Senator Musiliu Obanikoro, without going through any financial institution and which sum exceeded the amount allowed by law.
He was also alleged to have retained the sum of N300 million in his bank account and took control of the aggregate sums of about N622 million which sum he ought to have known formed part of crime proceeds.
The former governor was also alleged to have procured De Privateer Ltd and Still Earth Ltd, to retain the aggregate sums of N851 million in his bank account which they reasonably ought to have known formed part of crime proceeds.
Besides, the accused was alleged to have used the aggregate sums of about N1.6 billion to acquire property in Lagos and Abuja.
The accused 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 crime proceeds.
The offences contravene the provisions of Sections 15(1), 15 (2), 15 (3), 16(2)(b), 16 (d), and 18 (c) of the Money Laundering Prohibition Act 2011.