The Federal High Court Abuja will today begin the N4.6bn money laundering charge against Governor Ayodele Fayose’s aide, Abiodun Agbele. Agbele along with Sylvan Mcnamara Ltd, De Privateer Ltd and Spotless Investment Ltd are being prosecuted by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission. The judge, Justice Nnamdi Dimgba, had overruled Chief Mike Ozekhome, counsel to the defendant, who objected to the appearance of a new counsel in the matter. Dimgba held that there was no sufficient reasons by the defence to stop the commencement of trial on appearance of new counsel.He ruled that it was only the state that could challenge Shittu’s appearance in the matter.
The judge appealed to the prosecuting counsel, Wahab Shittu, to talk to the EFCC to release the defendant’s International Passport to the registrar of the court. He said this would enable the court to make it available to the defendant after satisfying the court on the need to travel outside the country. Dimgba adjourned the matter till Oct. 27 for hearing. At the resumed sitting on Wednesday, Shittu told the court the matter was slated for trial and his three witnesses were present in court. He said all the witnesses were Zenith Bank officials who travelled from Akure in order to attend the proceeding and he sought the leave of the court to call them.
Ozekhome challenged Shittu’s appearance for the prosecution on the ground that there was no motion or letter to the court or defence on the change of counsel by the prosecution. He recalled that it was Johnson Ojogbane that had been appearing in the matter for the prosecution, contending that the prosecution ought to have notify the court and the defence of the change as stipulate in the law.
He said there must be certainty in law and in appearance of counsel. The defence counsel also told the court that the EFCC had refused to release the International Passport of the defendant since Aug. 4, that the court admitted the defendant to bail. Dimgba had as part of the conditions for the N500m bail he granted Fayose’s associate, ordered that his travel document be deposited with the court. In his submissions, Shittu told the court that it was the state that had the locus standi to challenge his appearance. He said that the change of counsel by the prosecution would not prejudice the defendant in anyway.