The Economic and Financial Crimes Commission on Thursday called its first prosecution witness before a Federal High Court in Abuja in the trial of an aide of Governor Ayo Fayose of Ekiti State, Mr. Abiodun Agbele, who is being prosecuted for money laundering charges.
The first prosecution witness, Oluseye Alade, who is an official of Zenith Bank Plc, gave a breakdown of how the sum of N1.2bn allegedly airlifted to Akure by a former Minister of State for Defence, Musiliu Obanikoro on June 17, 2016, was distributed by Agbele.
He did not disclose where the aircraft flew from.
But he said he was informed by a colleague of his in Ibadan to wait for the arrival of the aircraft.
The EFCC had on August 3, 2016 aarraigned Agbele before Justice Nnamdi Dimgba of the Federal High on 11 counts of money laundering involving about N4,685,723,000,000.
The money was allegedly taken by former National Security Adviser from the account of the office of the NSA domicile in the Central Bank of Nigeria.
The prosecution alleged that on June 17, 2014, Agbele, Obanikoro and other suspects (said to be at large), took N1,219,000,000 from the total N4,685,723,000,000, when they “reasonably ought to have known” that the money was part of proceeds of Dasuki’s unlawful activity.”
Led in evidence by the prosecuting counsel, Mr. Wahab Shittu, the witness who is the Branch Head of the Zenith Bank in Akure gave details of how the N1.2bn was disbursed on the instruction of Agbele.
He said the money was airlifted to Akure by Obanikoro and others in two batches.
He said the money was moved from the airport to the bank by a bullion van on the two occasions of the arrival of the aircraft.”
He said, “I first met Agbele on June 17, 2014. On that day, my zonal head, Abiodun Oshode, informed me that he recieved a message from Lawrence Akande, the Zonal Head of Oyo State Branch of Zenith Bank that a customer will be coming to the bank from the airport with cash. He said that I should arrange for our bullion van to be taken to the airport to convey the cash when it arrives.
“After about an hour, Oshode walked to me that the customer is in the bank and I followed him to his office where he introduced Mr. Abiodun Agbele to me as the customer.
“Agbele told me that they had security details and that I should not bother about policemen since they had enough. That was how I, my Zonal Head, the bullion van driver, Agbele and his team drove to the airport.
“When we got to the airport, we waited for some minutes before the aircraft arrived. When the aircraft offloaded its passengers, one of them appeared to me to be Senator Musliu Obanikoro and the other one appeared to be his ADC, Adewale.
“Agbele walked up to them and had a discussion with them. Thereafter, he signaled me to bring the van. Bags loaded with cash were evacuated into the van and Obanikoro’s ADC, I and Agbele drove back to the bank.
“When we got to the bank, we bundle-counted the cash and it was N724,500,000. Agbele told us that more money was still coming and then, Obanikoro’s ADC left for the airport immediately.
“In the evening, all of us left for the airport a second time. After the passengers disembarked, we offloaded the cash bags into our bullion van and drove back to the bank to ascertain how much the cash was.
“The second tranche was N494,990,000, bringing the total about N1.219, 490,000. “We headed straight to our zonal head office where instructions were given by Agbele on how the funds were to be credited to various accounts.
“However, because of the amount involved, we needed to detail-count before crediting the accounts the next day. All these are recorded in the statements I volunteered to the EFCC.”
The four statements earlier made by the witness to the EFCC were tendered by the prosecuting counsel and admitted by the court as exhibits.