Alex Enumah in Abuja
The prosecution yesterday opened its case in the trial of Abiodun Agbele, an aide to Ekiti State Governor Ayodele Fayose, with the testimony of its first witness Mr. Sunday Oluseye Alade.
Alade, a 54 year old bank official told the court how he, along with some other officials of a bank and others received N1,219,490,000 cash brought into Akure airport on 17,06/2014 by ex-Minister of State for Defence, Musiliu Obanikoro and two others.
The witness, who works in the Akure branch of the bank, gave details of how two aircraft brought the cash on two occasions, same day and how they moved the cash in a bullion van.
Agbele was arraigned before Justice Nnamdi Dimgba of the Federal High Court, Abuja on August 3, 2016 on an 11-count charge of money laundering involving about N4,685,723,000,000 allegedly taken by former National Security Adviser (NSA) from the account of the office of the NSA domicile 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.
It is part of the prosecution’s case 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.”
Alade, who was led in evidence yesterday by prosecution lawyer, Wahab Shittu, also gave details of how Agbele allegedly supervised the lodgment of the cash into different accounts including those allegedly belonging to Fayose, his company, Spotless Investment, among others.
The prosecution also tendered some statements made by the witness on June 2, 2016 and July 4, 2016.
Part of the statement of June 2, 2016 reads: “Sometime in the month of June 2014, I was informed by my colleague in Ibadan – Lawrence Akande, that a customer of the bank will be bringing cash for lodgment in their account, but since the cash involved may be what he cannot singlehandedly handle and conveniently/safely bring to the branch office, I should arrange for the bank’s bullion van to evacuate the cash from Akure airport.
“To this end, that one Abiodun Agbele had collected my number from him and will call me in respect of the lodgment. Later on that date, One Mr. Abiodun Agbele called that we should arrange to pick some cash from the Akure airport.
“He then came to meet us in the branch with Toyota Hillux van with some security ‘Army’ personnel. We then drove to the airport. At Akure airport, we waited for sometime before the arrival of a medium sized aircraft.
“After the aircraft had parked, three individuals came down and Mr. Abiodun Agbele walked to meet them.
“They had a brief discussion and two of the three men walked away and entered a waiting Toyota Hillux, one of the two appeared to be Senator Musiliu Obanikoro.
“The remaining individual, together with Abiodun Agbele then invited my team to come to the tarmac with the bullion van. And we off-loaded the cash to the bullion van.
“We then drove to the bank in the town in a convoy with their security team made up of soldiers and Mopol officers. At the branch, we just bundle counted the cash and ascertained it was N724,500,000.”
According to him, “The person that handed over the cash later introduced himself as Adewale A. O and claimed to be a military aide de camp to Senator Obanikoro. He left us in the bank and went back to the airport in Akure.
“After about three hours, we drove our bullion van and security team back to the airport and waited until when another aircraft came with the second tranche, which was equally off-loaded to our bullion van and taken to the bank branch in Akure for ascertainment in the presence of Abiodun Agbele and one Adewale A. O.
“This second movement was ascertained to be N494,990,000 only. We were then informed by Abiodun Agbele that the cash was to be credited to various accounts,” Alade said.
The witness also gave details of how the money was distributed into the various accounts.
“The account credited and the amount are as follows: N100m was credited to Spotless Investment account: 1010170969 on 17/06/2014; Deprivateer Ltd was credited in account: 1013835889 with N219,490,000 on 18/06/2014 and another N300m on 19/06/2014 and another N200m on 23/06/2014.
“Another account owned by Ayodele Fayose was credited with N137,000,000 on 26/06/1014. This being the total amount credited to the various accounts to N956,490,000.
“Mr. Abiodun Agbele then eventually took away the cash balance of N263m with their security team to Ado Ekiti on the same day the cash was delivered in Akure.
“The total amount of cash so delivered amounted to N1,219,490,000. The amount deposited was N724,500,000, cash taken away of N956,490,000 and cash balance of N263,000,000 (taken away by Abiodun Agbele).
“The driver that drove the bullion van on that cash pick-up engagement was Olaolu Omotosho. I do not know the registration number of the aircraft, but the colour is metallic grey.
“I was able to recognise Senator Musiliu Obanikoro sine the appearance resemble his picture that I used to see on the television and newspaper, but I cannot recognise the third person that came out of the aircraft with him.
“The cash was packed inside several sacks popularly referred to as Ghana-must-go sack. The aircraft that brought the second tranche of the cash was of a smaller size when compared with the aircraft that brought the first tranche.
“The sacks were many, and as such, I cannot remember the number. Mr. Abiodun Agbele collected a packet of deposit booklet and when we got to the bank with the N724,500,000, he said he would fill the deposit slip for the various amounts,” the witness said.