EFCC accuses witness of lying to free Femi Fani-Kayode in money laundering case

The Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) on Wednesday accused a defence witness in the ongoing criminal trial of Femi Fani-Kayode, Media Director of Goodluck/Sambo Presidential Campaign Organisation, Kola Olapoju, of lying to the court in order to free his accused friend.

The EFCC counsel, Mr. Festus Keyamo, made the remarks when he cross-examined Olapoju during the money-laundering charges against Fani-Kayode came up.

The EFCC is prosecuting Fani-Kayode before Justice Rita Ofili-Ajumogobia of the Federal High Court in Lagos over alleged money laundering offences he committed while serving as Culture and Tourism Minister and later Aviation Minister.

At the resumed hearing of the case, Olapoju, who is the first defence witness and a lawyer and co-administrator of the estate of Fani-Kayode’s late father, told the court that while the accused was in public service in 2006, he requested for funds from the said estate of his father to pay artisans who effected repairs on their property.

Olapoju, under cross-examination, recalled that he had known Fani-Kayode for over 20 years and that he had been managing the properties of the estate for about 14 years. He added that there were five beneficiaries, but the beneficiaries are now four.
“It is not usual for any of the beneficiaries to withdraw funds. It is the core administrator that gives instructions on funds withdrawal, Olapoju stressed.
The witness further stated that he had always been in regular contact with Fani-Kayode until he was appointed minister.

At that point, Olapoju said Fani-Kayode had given him standing instruction that if he (Olapoju) was unable to get him (Fani-Kayode) at any point in time, he should always take instruction from his Chief of Staff, Aderemi Adedamola Ajidahun, on what to do in relation to the estate.
While speaking on the transactions, Olapoju recalled that Fani-Kayode had asked him to “urgently” get funds from tenants to pay artisans who had effected repairs on the property of the estate.

He added: “In other to abridge time, I went out of my way to demand that a cheque be issued in my name since I was in Abuja. I cashed the cheque and related with the Chief of Staff who later instructed that the cash be deposited in bank account of the accused by his Personal Assistant, Supo Agbaje. I went to bank with the said Agbaje but I did not go into the banking hall with him,” Olapoju narrated.
The payments were made on September 21 and 29 and few days later in 2006.

Olapoju, however, admitted that he did not see the said Agbaje deposit the cash into the account, and that he would not know whether there was any communication between Agbaje and the accused after he had dropped him (Agbaje) off at the bank.

The second defence witness (Ajidahun) also testified before the court and stated how he was appointed as Fani-Kayode’s Chief of Staff, being an expert in media, hospitality and branding consultancy.

But in his cross-examination, Keyamo told the witness that he was just out to lie to the court so that his accused-friend would be freed.

The matter was thereafter adjourned to March 26 for the testimony of the third defence witness.

Justice Ofili-Ajumogobia had earlier dismissed 38 out of the 40 counts against the accused.

The judge, however, said the accused would need to prove his innocence in respect of counts 25 and 26 of the charges.

Credit: Davidson Iriekpen/ThisDay