The Zonal Head of the Zenith Bank Plc, Mr. Lawrence Akande, on Monday linked Governor Ayodele Fayose of Ekiti State to the N1.2bn allegedly received from the Office of the National Security about a month to his second term election in 2014.
The N1.2bn is the subject of the ongoing trial of one of the governor’s aides, Mr. Abiodun Agbele, before Justice Nnamdi Dimgba of the Federal High Court in Abuja.
The Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) in August 2016 arraigned Agbele and three companies before the court on 11 counts of money laundering involving N4,685,723,000,000 allegedly taken by the immediate-past NSA, Col. Sambo Dasuki (rtd.), from ONSA’s account with the Central Bank of Nigeria.
The three companies charged alongside Agbele are Sylvan Mcnamara Limited linked to a former Minister of State for Defence, Musiliu Obanikoro; De Privateer Limited run by Agbele, and Spotless Investment Limited whose bank account was allegedly being operated by Fayose and his wife, Feyisetan.
The EFCC alleged that on June 17, 2014, Agbele along with Obanikoro and other suspects, said to be at large, took N1,219,000,000 from the total of N4,685,723,000,000, when they “reasonably ought to have known” that the money was part of proceeds of Dasuki’s unlawful activity.”
It stated that Agbele and the three companies did retain, transfer and convert part of the funds to their personal use, when they “reasonably ought to have known” that they were part of proceeds of Dasuki’s unlawful activity.”
Led in evidence by the prosecuting counsel, Mr. Wahab Shittu, the second prosecution witness, Akande, told the court on Monday that on June 17, 2014, he received a call from Fayose in respect of “a deposit” that was to be made in the bank.
He said Fayose asked him to liaise with Agbele in respect of the deposit.
According to the witness, he first met Fayose as the then Peoples Democratic Party’s candidate in the then imminent July 2014 governorship election in the state.
Akande, who is an indigene of Ekiti State, said on the prompting of another zonal Manager of the bank, Mr. Abiodun Osode, in Akure, Ondo State capital, he led Osode and some other officials of the bank to appeal to Fayose as then PDP’s governorship candidate to patronise the bank for the election expenses.
“Mr. Peter Ayodele Fayose had been a customer of the bank before I got to Ibadan. But preparatory to the 2016 governorship election in the state, Abiodun Osode met me as a senior official of the bank from Ekiti State, to help to approach Mr. Peter Ayodele Fayose to please patronise our bank.
“I led my team to him and we appealed to him in this regard. That was my first contact with him.
“On June 17, 2014, Mr. Ayodele Fayose called me that I should liaise with Mr. Abiodun Agbele about a deposit to be made in the bank. He said the deposit would be coming to Akure.
“And I called Abiodun Osode who was seated in Akure to liaise with Mr. Abiodun Agbele and that is all I know about this issue.”
Fielding further questions from Shittu, Akande said he further led a team of the bank’s officials to Fayose after he won the governorship election in order to appeal for Ekiti State Government’s patronage of the bank.
Akande said his team could, however, not reach an agreement with Fayose because the bank could not give the Ekiti State Government the kind of financial support the governor requested in exchange for the patronage of the bank.
“Subsequently, he won the election. After the election, we went to him to appeal to him for his government to use our bank.
“In view of the fact that the state was highly exposed, that is, the previous government had borrowed money and he said if we must have a relationship with his government we must support his government by financing his projects, we could not do business with the state. Since then I stopped going there.”
Akande confirmed that before he was deployed in Ibadan by the Zenith Bank management, Fayose had an account opened in the name of Spotless Investment Limited (one of the defendants) but being run by the governor’s wife for their family business.
He said, Agbele, on his part, was operating the account of De Privateer Limited (another defendant).
He confirmed making three statements to the EFCC.