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EFCC Witness Turns Hostile In Alleged N100m Fraud Suit Against Fani-Kayode

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SAN FRANCISCO, May 14, (THEWILL) â€' Justice Rita Ofili-Ajumogobia of a Federal High Court sitting in Lagos was on Wednesday, May 14, 2014 told that a prosecution witness in the trial of a former Minister of Aviation, Mr. Femi Fani-Kayode was hostile and should be pronounced so by the court. Counsel to the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, Festus Keyamo, told the court that, the witness, Mr. Ojo Agbor was hostile to him and gave contradictory testimony in court.

At the resumed hearing of the case on Wednesday, Keyamo presented Agbor before the court as a prosecution witness. Initially, Agbor told the EFCC that, Fani-Kayode, at various times, instructed him to deposit a total sum of N3, 600,000(Three Million, Six Hundred Thousand Naira only) into his account with First Inland Bank. This was contained in a statement he made at the EFCC while he was arrested for interrogation. However, in his testimony before the court on Wednesday, he denied making such a statement.

According to him, he deposited N600,000( Six Hundred Thousand Naira only) into the former minister's account on August 2, 2006, on the instruction of a property manager, Mr Kayode, who sent him to pay in the money as rent due. And on August 24, 2006, Agbor said he deposited N3millon (Three Million Naira only) into the account of the accused.

Faced with the contradictory testimony of Agbor, Keyamo prayed the court to treat the witness as hostile. 'This witness has been running away since; he was difficult to find. We had to write his director to produce him this morning' he said. Keyamo also told the court that Agbor refused to do a pre-trial with him before the court proceedings commenced.

To substantiate a claim of hostility of the witness, Keyamo tendered Agbor's statement he made while in the custody of the EFCC, where he stated that all the money was given to him by Fani-Kayode. But, in spite of all the evidences presented by Keyamo, Agbor insisted that he made his statements at the EFCC's office under duress. However, Justice Ofili-Ajumogobia granted the prayer of prosecution on hostility of witness.

Keyamo presented another witness before the court. The witness, Mr. Olasupo Agbaje told the court that, he deposited a total sum of N3, 712,000(Three Million, Seven Hundred and Twelve Thousand Naira only) into Fani-Kayode's account. The breakdown showed that: N1million was deposited into Fani-Kayode's account by Agbaje on September 29, 2006 at former First Inland Bank; another N1.1million was deposited on September 20, 2006; N861, 000(Eight Hundred and Sixty One Thousand Naira only) was deposited into the account on August 15, 2006 and N751, 000(Seven Hundred and Fifty One Thousand Naira only) on August 21, 2006.

However, when Mr. Ifedayo Adedipe, SAN, counsel to Fani-Kayode cross-examined him on the lodgements into the former minister's account, he denied what he earlier told the court. 'I cannot recall that I told EFCC that I collected N1million or N1.1million from the accused person', he said.

Femi Fani Kayode was alleged to have accepted cash payments in the tune of N100 million, while he held sway as Minister of Aviation and Minister of Culture and Tourism respectively.

Justice Ofili-Ajumogobia adjourned the matter till June 23 & 24, 2014, for continuation of trial.

Meanwhile, the EFCC on Tuesday arraigned Daniel Solomon and Adams Paul before Justice Evelyn Anyadike of the Federal High Court Kaduna on 6-count charge bordering on obtaining money by false pretence, counterfeiting, conspiracy and cheating.

The accused persons are alleged to have hoodwinked one Boniface Chukwu into parting with various sums of money amounting to N12.5 million under the pretense of doubling the said money.

One of the charge reads, 'that you Daniel Solomon, Adamu Admas Paul (AKA Paul Waje) and Sani (now at large) between 1st January, 2010 to 23rd May, 2012 in Kaduna within the jurisdiction of the Federal High Court Kaduna with intent to defraud represent yourselves to Boniface Chukwu as possessing the power of doubling or otherwise increasing the sum of N500, 000, 000 (Five Hundred Million Naira ) and in the process collect the sum N12, 500, 000 (Twelve Million Five Hundred Naira ) from him and therefore committed an offence contrary to section 2(b) of the Advance Fee Fraud and Other Fraud Related Offences Act 2006 and punishable under section2(c) of the same Act'.

The accused persons pleaded not guilty when the charge was read to them.

Thereafter, the prosecuting counsel, Sa'ad Hanafi Sa'ad asked the court to fix a date for hearing and urged the court to remand the accused persons in prison custody.

The defence counsel, Victor Mark, told the court that he had filed an application for bail for his clients.

Justice Anyadike adjourned the case to 16th and 17th June for hearing of the bail application and commencement of trial while ordering that the accused persons be remanded in prison custody.