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Fayose’s Trial: Legal fireworks as defendants oppose EFCC move to replace witness who contradicted himself

The trial of former Governor of Ekiti State, Ayodele Fayose,
continued today,  before a Federal High Court in Lagos, with exchange
of legal fireworks between prosecuting counsel and counsel to the
defendants over move by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission
(EFCC) to introduce a new witness, Mr. Johnson Abidakun, in place of
Adewale Aladegbola, who gave evidences contrary to the claims by the
EFCC during the aborted trial before Justice Mojisola Olatoregun.

EFCC had introduced Johnson Abidakun as Prosecution Witness 5 during
the trial on October 25, 2019, but counsel to the defendants opposed
it, contending that the prosecution did not have the liberty to change
a witness just because such a witness failed to give evidence
favourable to them.

Ola Olanipekun (SAN)  and Olalekan  Ojo (SAN), who cited provisions of
the Administration of Justice Act (ACJA) 2015 and the Evidence Act,
described the attempt to substitute Aladegbola with Abidakun as an
abuse of prosecutorial power by the EFCC, notifying the court of their
intention to file a written application,  seeking to prevent him
(Abidakun) from giving evidence.

At the trial today, Olalekan Ojo who moved the application flied on
December 3, 2019, said the defendants, formulated a sole issue for
determination.

He said issue for determination is; “whether the honourable court
ought to allow the prosecution to call Mr. Johnson Abidakun to give
evidence in charge number FHC/L/353c/18 considering that same would be
tantamount to oppressive, unfair and unconscionable conduct or act on
the part of the prosecution in the course of establishing their case
against the defendants.

Ojo,  who also stood in for Ola Olanipekun (SAN), counsel to the first
defendant,  prayed the court for an order  excluding the evidence of
Mr. Johnson Abidakun, already sworn as (PW5) on the ground that, “the
prosecution having just procured the said withness after a woeful and
failed attempt to force Adewale Aladegbola to testify that he drove a
bullion van to convey money from Afao Ekiti, the residence of the
defendant when in actual fact he categorically testified on oath that
the bullion van with which the the prosecution alleged to have used to
convey the sum of N200 million was faulty and grounded.”

It should be recalled  that Adewale Aladegbola Clement,  a former
driver to Zenith Bank Ado -Ekiti branch, gave evidence contrary to his
extra judicial statement while testifying before Justice Olatoregun.

After Aladegbola had told the court that he was told to lie by the
bank Cash Officer, Okemute Oputu and that on April 16, 2015, the
Zenith Bank bullion van was grounded and there was no operations, he
was reportedly arrested by the EFCC and detained for hours.

Responding to the defendants application seeking to prevent Johnson
Abidakun from giving evidence in place of Aladegbola, EFCC counsel, Mr
Rotimi Jacobs (SAN), canvassed that the application was strange and
that bringing Abidakun as withness in a case starting afresh was not
an abuse of Court process moreso that Aladegbola could no longer be
found as contained in paragraph 4(h) of the prosecution
Counter-affidavit.

He urge the court to dismiss the Application with substantial cost.

However,  in his counter reaction, Ojo punctured the 5-paragraph
affidavit deposed to by one Akintunde Olasunkanmi, a clerk/litigation
officer in the law firm of the Prospecting Counsel.

Ojo told the court that all the deposition by the clerk was in the
realm of hearsay evidence as “all the facts he deposed to was what
Rotimi Jacobs (SAN) told him in chambers whereas, the Prosecution
Counsel is not in anyway an employer or one of the agents but a
professional, hence can not assume the position of the EFCC, the
complainant in the circumstance.”

He therefore urged the court to determine the application in the
defendants’ favour, saying; “facts and statues are in the defendants
favour.”

Justice C. J. Anekei consequently adjourned the matter till February
17, 2020 for ruling and continuation of trial.

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