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It took 10 days to count N1.22b cash Obanikoro brought for Fayose, says witness

By The Rainbow
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A Federal High Court in Abuja heard yesterday that it took bank officials 10 days to count the N1.22billion cash delivered to aides of Ekiti State Governor Ayodele Fayose by former Minister of State for Defence Musiliu Obanikoro in 2014.

A banker, Sunday Oguseye Alade, told the court how officials took turns to count the huge cash in N1000 and N500 denominations.

Alade, who told the court how they evacuated the huge cash, allegedly airlifted to Akure airport twice by Obanikoro, said he “got worried” when he saw the large consignment of cash.

The banker was testifying as the first prosecution witness in the trial of Fayose's aide, Abiodun Agbele.

Alade testifying on October 27, gave details of how he and some others, led by Agbele, received the money at the Akure airport in Ondo State; counted it and lodged some into accounts owned by Fayose and two companies – Spotless Investment Ltd and De Privateer Ltd.

Agbele is being tried with three companies – Sylvan Mcnamara Ltd, De Privateer and Spotless – on 11 counts of money laundering involving about N4,685,723,000,000, allegedly taken by the former National Security Adviser (NSA), Col. Sambo Dasuki from the account of the office of the NSA domiciled in the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN).

The prosecution alleged that the accused knew the N4,685,723,000,000 formed part of the proceeds of alleged unlawful activities by Dasuki.

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 N4,685,723,000,000, when they “reasonably ought to have known” that the money was part of proceeds of Dasuki's unlawful activity.”

Alade, who was cross-examined yesterday before Justice Nnamdi Dimgba by Agbele's lawyer, Mike Ozekhome (SAN), said “it took us 10 whole days to count the money after we brought it from the Akure Aiport.”

“It took us from 8am to 3pm daily to count the money. Some time, the officials counting it will take time off.” He said the total amount was N1,219,490,000.

When asked how they preserved what was left uncounted at the end of each day, Alade said what was left uncounted at the end of a particular day was kept in boxes “as boxed cash” and secured in the bank's strong room.

On how he went to the airport to receive the money, Alade said: “I went to the airport from my office with one car, a bullion van and two Hilux vans, carrying the security men.”

Alade, who said it was unusual for customers to ferry cash to their bank in aircraft, said he was initially not worried when told to go to the Akure airport to receive the money.

He, however, told the court that he got worried on seeing the size of the cash. He said he did not report the unusual transaction to the relevant government agencies because it was not his responsibility to report suspicious transactions.

At the commencement of proceedings yesterday, Ozekhome withdrew his appearance for the second defendant, Sylvan Mcnamara Ltd (a firm believed to be owned by Obanikoro).

Earlier yesterday, while being led in evidence by the lead prosecution lawyer, Wahab Shittu, Alade identified documents, including account opening packages, for the accounts of Fayose, Spotless Investment and Deprivateer and statements of transactions in the accounts.

The documents were admitted by the court in evidence.

He told the court Agbele gave directives on how the money was disbursed and went away with the cash balance of over N230m, which he (Agbele) allegedly took to Ado Ekiti (the Ekiti State capital).

“It was Mr. Abiodun Agbele, who took custody of the cash when the aircraft landed at Akure airport on June 17, 2014. It was Mr. Abiodun Agbele who gave the instruction that the cash be transferred to Zenith Bank, Akure branch.

“The instruction about which specific accounts the funds should be transferred was given by Mr. Abiodun Agbele. The entire transaction was processed on behalf of Mr. Abiodun Agbele,” Alade said.

Reading from the bank statements earlier tendered, Alade noted that On June 17, 2014, N100m was paid into Spotless' account. On June 18, 2014, N219,490,000 was paid into Deprivateer's account.

“On June 19, 2014, a deposit of N300m was made to Deprivateer. On June 23, 2014, N200m deposit was made into Deprivateer's account. On June 26, 2014, N137m was paid into Ayodele Fayose's account.

“The balance of over N230m cash was taken by Mr. Abiodun Agbele with our bullion van to Ado-Ekiti,” the witness said.

(The Nation)