By Michael Ojo
The immediate past governor of Ekiti State, Ayodele Fayose, was arraigned Monday before a Lagos Division of the Federal High Court over an 11-count charge of conspiracy and money laundering.
Mr Fayose, and his company, Spotless Limited, pleaded not guilty to all the charges.
The judge, Mojisola Olatoregun, ordered that he be remanded in the custody of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission and adjourned till October 24 for hearing of his bail application.
According to the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, Mr Fayose received ₦1.2 billion to fund his 2014 gubernatorial campaign in Ekiti State, a sum they said he ought to have known formed part of the proceeds of an unlawful act.
Mr Fayose arrived at the court premises at about 8.30am, accompanied by EFCC officials and armed police officers.
Femi Fani-Kayode, a former aviation minister and member of the Peoples’ Democratic Party, was also on court “to show solidarity.”
“I’m here to let people know that he’s not alone, I know what he’s going through because I’ve been there before,” Mr Fani-Kayode told journalists after the court sitting.
Mr Fani-Kayode said the federal government has subjected every member of the PDP to one form of persecution or another.
In the charges, the EFCC alleged that on June 17, 2014 Fayose “took possession of the sum of N1, 219, 000,000 to fund your 2014 gubernatorial campaign in Ekiti State, which you reasonably ought to have known formed part of the proceeds of an unlawful act, to wit: criminal breach of trust/stealing.”
He was also alleged to have on the same day “received a cash payment of $5,000,000 from Senator Musiliu Obanikoro, the then Minister of State for Defence, which sum exceeded the amount authorised by law and you thereby committed an offence contrary to sections 1 and 16(d) of the Money Laundering (Prohibition) Act, 2011 (as amended) and punishable under Section 16 (2)(b) of the same Act.”
In another count, Fayose was accused of “taking control of an aggregate sum of N317,000,000,” which he allegedly deposited into the bank account of Spotless Limited, “a company controlled by you and your family.”
He was also accused of “using an aggregate sum of N1,151,711,573 to acquire chalets 3 and 4; and 5 and 9 of the property situate at Plot 100 Tiamiyu Savage Street, Victoria Island, Lagos in the name of JJ Technical Service.”
Fayose was equally accused of purchasing a property at Plot 1504, Yedsema Street, Maitama, Abuja for N270m from one Rabi Kundili.
The former governor was also alleged to have purchased another property at No.44, Osun Crescent, Maitama, Abuja for N200m in the name of his elder sister, Moji Oladeji.
Among other allegations, the EFCC further accused Fayose of receiving gratification from a firm, Samchase Nigeria Limited.
After pleading not guilty to the charges, the prosecuting counsel for the EFCC, Mr Rotimi Oyedepo, prayed for a trial date and an order remanding Fayose in the prison custody.
However, the defence counsel, Chief Kanu Agabi (SAN), told Justice Olatoregun that while he agreed with a trial date, he was opposed to the prayer that his client should be remanded in the prison custody.
Agabi said he had already filed a bail application for Fayose and urged the judge to allow the former governor to return to the custody of the EFCC pending the hearing and determination of the bail application.
Justice Olatoregun granted Agabi’s prayer, ordered that Fayose should be remanded in the custody of the EFCC and adjourned till Wednesday, October 24, for the hearing of the bail application.