A prosecution witness, O. Kennedy, in the on-going trial of a former governor of Ekiti State, Ayodele Fayose, on Wednesday, March 20, 2019, told Justice Mojisola Olatoregun of the Federal High Court, sitting in Ikoyi, Lagos State how the former governor bought properties in Lagos at the costs of N190m and $175,000, respectively.
Fayose, alongside his company, Spotless Investment Limited, was arraigned by EFCC on October 22, 2018, on an 11-count charge bordering on fraud and money laundering.
During proceedings, the seventh prosecution witness, (PW7), Kennedy, a lawyer, told the court that he drafted the documents with which Fayose bought a Charlet at No.100 Tiamiyu Savage, Victoria Island, Lagos for N190million and a property worth $175,000 through one Abiodun Agbele and J.J. Technical Limited.
Led in evidence by the prosecution counsel, Rotimi Jacobs, SAN, Kennedy told the court that the parties to the agreement in respect of the transaction were Noga Hotels Nigeria Limited, as the signor and J.J. Technical Limited, as the signee. He further stated that he was briefed by his client, Agbele, on the transaction before he drafted the documents for the purchase of the property, adding that Agbele told him to increase the price of the property in the document.
Kennedy upon cross-examination by the defence team, stated that he did not attend any meeting between the parties involved in the transaction; he, however, disclosed that he was getting privilege information from some staff of J.J. Technical Limited. When asked by Olalekan Ojo, SAN, counsel to the second defendant, if the statement he made to the EFCC on the transaction was entirely true, the witness said, “to the best of my knowledge, I did not lie. But a lie in error may have occurred.”
The witness admitted that he did not include in his statement to the EFCC that he was told to inflate the cost of the property in the transaction document he drafted. In his testimony, ninth prosecution witness, PW9, Joseph Cosen Michelle, Managing Director, J.J. Technical Limited, an Ondo-based construction company, told the court that the company was incorporated in 2007 by himself, his brother and brother-in-law.
Michelle, an Arabian, said after the incorporation of the company, that contracts did not come their way, and that he did not know about any property bought by J.J. Limited. Upon cross-examination by the defence counsel, Michelle admitted having knowledge of a “Letter Of Authority” written to his brother, Maron Michelle, said to be given to Abiodun Agbele to help J.J. Technical Limited source for contracts.
He told the court that he was a joint owner of J.J. Technical Limited, which is the company Fayose allegedly used for the purchase of the property, but told the court that he did not know that his company was involved in the purchase of any property until he was invited by the EFCC.
In his own testimony, the tenth prosecution witness, PW10, Maron told the court that he was also a joint owner of J.J. Technical Limited, adding that, “he has some relationship with the Ekiti State government under the administration of Ayodele Fayose.
According to Maron, “J.J. Technical Limited belongs to me, my brother and my brother-in-law. After we incorporated the company in 2007, there was no contract; so, I discussed with Abiodun Agbele to help us get contract and jobs.
“Mr. Abiodun Agbele then asked me for a company in which we can use to get contract and I gave him the documents of J.J. Technical Limited. After giving him the documents, Agbele bought the property in J.J. Technical Limited’s name and I signed for the property.
“Afterwards, the EFCC froze my bank accounts, invited me to the office and seized my international passport after I was told that I was involved in a shady deal that has to do with the property.
“I put a call through to Abiodun Agbele and I told him about the development and he said I should tell the EFCC that the property was truly mine. I made a statement to the EFCC on July 28, 2016, based on what Abiodun Agbele told me.
“Afterwards, my lawyer came to the Commission that same day and asked me secretly if I told the EFCC the truth about the property.
“I told my lawyer that I did not tell the truth and he immediately told me to go back and say the truth to the EFCC. I went back to write another statement in the EFCC, which stated the truth that I was not the owner of the property.”
Upon cross-examination by the defence team the witness admitted making two statements to the EFCC. He stated that, “my first statement did not state the truth, but my second statement did say the truth”.
When the prosecution counsel, Jacobs, raised an observation pertaining to Maron’s second statement, Justice Olatoregun warned him that he should never re-evaluate her ruling. “Do not stand there with impetus and re-evaluate my ruling; your are incompetent to do so. If you have an objection, you go to the Appeal Court and stop blowing your wings in arrogance. You are extremely rude to have re-evaluated my ruling,” the judge said.
Jacobs, in his response said he didn’t re-evaluate her ruling. Justice Olatoregun thereafter, adjourned the case to April 15, 2019 for continuation of trial.