Witness: Ex-NSA Dasuki authorised N2.2 billion payment from ONSA’s CBN account to ex-Governor Fayose

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By TODAY

The Federal High Court in Lagos Friday heard that a former National Security Adviser (NSA), Col Sambo Dasuki (rtd), authorised the transfer of N2.2billion from the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) to former Minister of State for Defence, Musiliu Obanikoro.

Fayose is on trial for allegedly receiving and keeping N1.2billion and $5million allegedly stolen from the Office of the National Security Adviser (ONSA) through Obanikoro.

A CBN senior official, Aliyu Mohammed, confirmed that payment mandates tendered before the court emanated from the CBN’s payment section.

According to him, they were with instructions to pay N200million and N2billion on different days in June 2014 into the Diamond Bank account of Sylvan McNamara from the ONSA.

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Obanikoro had admitted during his evidence when he testified for the EFCC that he controlled the account and that he was instructed to move the money to Fayose.

Mohammed said the money was co-authorised by Dasuki and an NSA director S.A. Salisu, who were signatories to ONSA’s CBN account.

The witness said the payments followed the due process as done with accounts of government ministries and agencies.

Under cross examination, the witness said the due diligence did not include ascertaining the purpose of payment or the legal status of the entity being paid.

A stir was caused when a prosecution witness, Mr Adewale Aladegbola, who was led in evidence by prosecuting counsel Rotimi Jacobs (SAN), said he did not move cash to Afao-Ekiti, Fayose’s hometown.

Aladegbola, a bullion van driver with Zenith Bank, Ado-Ekiti Branch till 2015, said he was asked to lie by the bank’s cash officer, Okemute Oputu.

The witness said he drove two bullion vans, but that both were broken down the day it was alleged that a bullion van transported huge amounts of money to Fayose’s residence.

He said on April 16, 2015, the Zenith Bank bullion vans were grounded and there was no operation.

Midway into the trial, Jacobs told Justice Mojisola Olatoregun that the witness was showing signs of being hostile from responses given so far.

He said he would, therefore, need an adjournment to determine his next line of action.

“My Lord, from indications I 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,” he said.

Jacobs said he needed time to consider the nature of application to be made in the circumstance.

“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 cash officer,” the SAN said.

Jacobs said he would have declared the witness hostile immediately, but he had no necessary documents to prove that the witness was making contrary statements.

He said he needed previous statements made by the witness to prove that he has turned hostile and to declare him as such.

But, Fayose’s lawyer Ola Olanipekun (SAN) said he was surprised the prosecuting counsel was making such a prayer.

“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 evidence of a witness is no ground for adjournment,” he argued.

Counsel for Spoless Ltd, Fayose’s co-accused, Olalekan Ojo (SAN) added that the ground for adjournment had no legal basis.

“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 of a conflict. The law is trite that an adjournment cannot be given for counsel to go back to their chambers to figure out how to go about their case,” he said.

However, Justice Olatoregun reluctantly agreed to adjourn until May 14 to the displeasure of defence counsel.

Fayose had pleaded not guilty when he was arraigned on an 11-count charge on October 22 last year.

EFCC said he and Abiodun Agbele, who is facing a different charge, allegedly took possession of N1,219,000, 000 on June 17, 2014 to fund the former governor’s 2014 gubernatorial campaign.

The commission said Fayose “reasonably ought to have known” that the money “formed part of the proceeds of an unlawful act, to wit: criminal breach of trust/stealing.”

EFCC said Fayose, on the same day, received cash payment of $5million from Obanikoro, without going through a financial institution.

The commission said the sum exceeded the amount authorised by law, thereby violating the Money Laundering Act.

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