The Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC), at a Lagos Division of the Federal High Court on Friday, sought and obtained further adjournment in the fraud case against ex governor of Ekiti State, Ayodele Fayose and his company, Spotless over a prosecution witness that became hostile to the prosecution lawyer.
According to prosecuting counsel Rotimi Jacobs SAN, his second witness in today’s proceeding but who is fourteenth prosecution Mr Olawale Aladegbola is showing signs of being a hostile witness from responses giving so far and he would therefore need an adjournment to determine the type of application that would be presented before the court as regards the witness.
“My Lord, from indications am getting from responses from this witness, it looks as if this witness might become hostile as he is making statements absent from his extra judicial statement in the proof of evidence. ”
The witness told justice Mojisola Olatoregun sitting in Federal High Court Lagos on Friday that he works with Zenith bank Ado Ekiti as bullion van driver as at 2015.
“I need to know the nature of application to be made before your lordship. I had no prior indication that the witness was going to change his mind. I want your lordship to adjourn this matter for me to make appropriate applications because he has cast aspersions on his cashier officer on cover up. ”
Mr Jacobs also said, he would have declared the witness hostile immediately, but he had no necessary prior documents to show the court to prove that the witness is making contrary statements prior to previous statements made by same witness which is necessary for him to prove to the court that the witness has turned hostile and to declare him as such.
Objecting to the prayer, counsel to the 1st defendant Ola Olanipekun SAN said he was surprised the prosecuting counsel is making such prayers to the court. “I am surprised my colleague is making such prayers. Witnesses are meant to say the truth and the fact that a witness is casting aspersions is no ground to seek adjournment. This is a court of justice and we ought to take what the witness says. An application for adjournment because the prosecution is not comfortable with the statement of a witness is no ground for adjournment. ”
The counsel to the 2nd defendant, Olawale Ojo SAN in his objection also said such grounds for adjournment had no basis in law. “The multi million naira question is what is the reason for the application for adjournment? According to the prosecution, ‘It appears the witness from answers he is giving is hostile and I need to know the nature of application to make’, this reason is untenable in law. They should be prepared for all situations. The statement made is not before your lordship to even arrive at the possibility is a conflict. The law is trite and adjournment is not given to counsels to go back to their chambers to figure out how to go about their case. Section 230 of the evidence act is clear on how to treat a hostile witness .”
Justice Olatoregun in her reply to the claim of the prosecution that his obligation to protect the witness is inhibiting him from out rightly declaring the witness hostile said ” your primary disposition is to the court. You do not protect anybody at the expense of justice. What stops you from declaring him hostile right now? You can seek adjournment based on ill preparation. ”
However, after further argument from the prosecuting counsel, the trial judge agreed to adjourn proceedings and continue with the witness examination in chief on the 14th of May at 1pm.
The witness Adewale Aladegbola who said as at 2015, he was a driver with Zenith Bank claims that one Oputu Okemotin told him about a situation where they had unofficially picked up cash at Afam and he was asked to help cover it up and pretend as if it was official.
The witness also told the court that he majorly drove bullion vans or escort vans for the bank while moving money and when there is no cash to move, he works in the marketing department of the bank at the banks branch in Ado Ekiti.
UEarlier in proceedings, the heads of payment section at the Abuja branch of CBN Aliyu Mohammed confirmed to the court that in the 5th and 13th of June respectively, payment mandates tendered before the court and admitted as exhibit S and S1 respectively were presented before the Central Bank payment section for the payment of N200 million and N2billion respectively to the diamond account of Silva McNamara from the office of the National Security Adviser, duly authorised by the NSA Sambo Dasuki himself.
Mr Mohammed also confirmed to the court that all such payments followed the due process of payment by CBN from the account of government ministries and agencies. Under cross examination, the witness also confirmed to the court that the due diligence done does not include ascertaining the purpose for payment or the legal status of the entity being paid.
The fraud case against Mr Fayose and his company Spotless limited by the EFCC have entered trial since November last year and are being prosecuted on an 11 count charge of conspiracy and alleged money laundering to the tune of N6.9billion.