N1.2bn fraud: EFCC rejects ruling freeing Fayose’s ally

The Economic and Financial Crimes Commission has rejected the ruling of Justice Nnamdi Dimgba of the Federal High Court in Abuja holding that the anti-graft agency failed to prove N1.2bn fraud against Abiodun Agbele, an associate of ex-Ekiti State governor, Ayodele Fayose.

The anti-graft agency, therefore, approached the Court of Appeal, praying that Justice Dimgba’s ruling upholding Agbele’s no-case submission be reversed.

The EFCC had arraigned Agbele and others on amended 24 counts bordering on money laundering to the tune of N1.2bn.

In a bid to prove the allegation, the anti-graft agency called several witnesses and tendered various documents.

Upon the close of the prosecution’s case, however, Agbele, rather than enter a defence, filed a no-case submission, contending that the EFCC failed to prove the allegations against him.

Justice Dimgba, in his ruling, agreed with Agbele and held that the EFCC failed to establish a prima facie case against the defendant, sufficient enough to ask him to put in a defence.

But the EFCC, in its appeal, contended that the judge misapplied the law.

It contended that the court erred when it held that Agbele, Sylvan Mcnamara Limited, De Privateer Limited, and Spotless Investment Limited did not have a case to answer.

The EFCC insisted that contrary to the ruling of the court, the evidence adduced were abundant enough to establish the N1.2bn fraud allegation.

It argued that the lower court failed to  properly evaluate the testimonies of its witnesses and the exhibits it tendered to the court.

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“There is overwhelming evidence before the trial court that the sum of N1,219,000,000.00 from the account of the National Security Adviser of Nigeria, domiciled with CBN and earmarked for security purposes, paid into the account of the second respondent by the office of the NSA was unlawfully diverted by the first, third and fourth respondents to fund the governorship election of former Governor Ayo Fayose in Ekiti State.

“The trial court erred in law in using the ongoing proceedings before another court of competent jurisdiction to determine the merits of the proceedings before the trial court.

“The trial court is not entitled to import into a statutory provision what is not expressly inserted therein by the draftsman,” the EFCC said.

It, therefore, urged the Court of Appeal to overturn the lower court’s ruling and order Agbele and others to put in their defence.

The EFCC arraigned Agbele and others on 24 amended counts bordering on money laundering to the tune of N1.22bn.

The money was said to be part of N4.7bn allegedly transferred from an account belonging to the Office of the National Security Adviser and domiciled in the CBN.

The money was said to have been delivered by a former Minister of State for Defence, Musiliu Obanikoro, on behalf of Fayose in June 2014 without going through a financial institution.

Agbele was said to have indirectly accepted the sum in cash through an official of a bank in Akure, Ondo State.

The EFCC said Agbele committed an offence contrary to Section 1(a) of the Money Laundering (Prohibition) Act 2011 (as amended).

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