A Federal High Court in Lagos on Wednesday heard that it took Zenith Bank Plc officials 10 days to count the N1.219 billion they received in 2014, at the instance of former Ekiti State Governor Ayodele Fayose’s aide, Abiodun Agbele.
A former executive staff of the bank, Sunday Oluseye Alade, told Justice Chukwujekwu Aneke that the money was counted at the bank’s Akure branch.
Alade made the disclosure while testifying as a witness for the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) in the on-going trial of Fayose and his firm, Spotless Ltd, for an alleged N3.3bn fraud.
His testimony corroborated Tuesday’s statement of another top official of Zenith Bank Plc, Dr Abiodun Oshode, who said the bank took a bullion van to the Akure Airport in Ondo State to evacuate the cash from an aircraft.
The money was allegedly deposited in three accounts, including Fayose’s personal bank account.
Fayose and Spotless Ltd were arraigned on October 22, 2018, before Justice Mojisola Olatoregun, on 11 counts of alleged fraud and money laundering.
He pleaded not guilty and was granted N50 million bail on October 24, 2018, with two sureties in the like sum.
The defendant was re-arraigned before Justice Aneke, on July 2.
He repeated his plea and was allowed to continue on the earlier bail granted, while the case was adjourned for trial.
At the resumption of proceedings Wednesday, Alade was led in evidence by EFCC Counsel, Mr Rotimi Jacobs (SAN).
The witness, who said he was the Head of the Akure Branch when the transaction took place in 2014, narrated how he arranged for a bullion van to pick up the cash warehoused in an aircraft at the Akure Airport.
Alade said: “On 17th June, 2014, I received a phone call from Lawrence Akande through Abiodun Oshode, who was my Zonal Head, that a customer of the bank would be coming to make a cash deposit in Akure. I was told that the customer would be coming by a flight to Akure Airport.
“After some hours, Abiodun Oshode came to my office to inform me that the said customer was in his office. I then followed him to his office where he introduced one, Biodun Agbele, to me as the bank customer. I was later instructed to prepare the cash movement team (bullion van and security) to pick the cash from the airport.
“When the aircraft arrived, three individuals disembarked from it, two of them walked away while the third person talked to Abiodun Agbele. After a short interaction, we were left to offload the cash from the aircraft.
“One, Adewale O., who introduced himself as the orderly to Senator Obanikoro, led us to offload the cash. When we got to the branch, we bundle-counted the cash and it was about N744 million.
“We were told there was a balance and we went back to the airport to pick the second batch from the aircraft into our bullion van. The second tranche was about N494 million, making a total of N1.2 billion. The money was detail-counted by the Cash and Teller unit for ten days before it was credited into three different accounts”.
When he was done, the prosecution called a Senior Manager of the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) Abuja branch, Aliu Mohammed, as its next witness.
Mohammed testified that N2.2 billion was allegedly transferred into the Diamond bank account of a firm, Sylva Mcmanara, from the operational account of the former National Security Adviser (NSA), Col. Sambo Dasuki, at CBN.
Mohammed, the CBN’s Head of Payment Section, disclosed that a payment mandate was first received from the NSA’s office on 4th June, 2014 to pay N200 million to Sylva Mcmanara for the purpose of physical security infrastructure.
He said another mandate was also received on 16th June, 2014, for the payment of N2 billion into the firm’s account for security services.
Under cross-examination by Fayose’s lawyer, Ola Olanipekun (SAN), the witness said his office did not come across the former governor’s name in any of the documents used to process the payments into Sylva Mcnamara account.
Another witness, Olaitan Fajuyitan, also corroborated the CBN staff’s claims of funds transfer into Sylva Mcnamara’s account.
Fajuyitan, a former staff of Diamond bank, also narrated how the bank was instructed by Sylva Mcnamara to pay the sum of N1.2 billion to six individuals on the same day N2 billion was transferred to the account by CBN.
“The payment instruction was signed by the authorizing signatory of Sylva Mcnamara’s account. The beneficiaries were six in total. The authorising signatory directed us to waive their means of identification”, he said.
According to the witness, the six beneficiaries are: Sam Turaki Bello, who collected N200 million; Yusuf Bulama, who collected N120 million; Chimenum Njoku, who collected N250 million; Josiah Moses, who collected N280 million; Abubakar Sadiq Zara, who collected N200 million and Franklin Tolani, who got N150 million.
Further hearing in the trial continues on Friday.