The Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) has alleged that Abiodun Agbele, an aide of Ekiti State Governor Ayodele Fayose, was plotting to abscond from his ongoing trial.
Agbele is being tried with three firms – Sylvan Macnamara Ltd, De Privateer Ltd and Spotless Ltd – on 11 counts of money laundering, involving about N4,685,723,000 allegedly taken by former National Security Adviser (NSA) from the account of the office of the NSA domicile in the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN).
The prosecution alleged that Agbele and others knew that the N4,685,723,000 formed part of the proceeds of alleged unlawful activities by Dasuki.
The prosecution claimed that on June 17, 2014, Agbele, Obanikoro and other suspects (said to be at large) took N1,219,000,000 from the total N4,685,723,000, when they “reasonably ought to have known” that the money was part of proceeds of Dasuki’s unlawful activity”.
The EFCC’s fresh allegation of Agbele’s alleged plot to abscond was contained in a notice of appeal it filed against a December 5, 2016 ruling of Justice Nnamdi Dimgba of the Federal High Court, Abuja.
Agbele and others are being tried before Justice Dimgba, who earlier granted Agbele bail and ordered him to, among others, deposit his international passport with the court as part of the condition for bail.
Agbele, however, applied to the court for the release of his passport to enable him travel abroad on medical ground, an application Justice Dimgba granted in his December 5 ruling.
In the notice of appeal, filed before the Court of Appeal, Abuja by EFCC’s lawyer, Wahab Shittu, it was alleged that having been aware of the enormity of the case against him, with the commencement of trial, Agbele may not return to continue his trial.
“There are sufficient materials in the proof of evidence before the trial court confirming that the 1st respondent (Agbele) took custody of N1.219 billion, forming the subject matter of the case and providing sufficient ground for the 1st respondent to abscond from the on-going trial process.
“There is no undertaking provided by the 1ts respondent or his counsel to the effect that the 1st respondent will return to the country before the next adjourned dates of January 25 – 27, 2017.
“The allegations levelled against the 1st respondent are weighty, bordering on alleged corrupt practices running into billions of naira.
“There are sufficient materials before the court revealing that the 1st respondent may not return to the country to face his trial. Not less than 20 witnesses have been lined up, ready to give evidence against the 1st respondent.
“Trial has already commenced in the proceedings against the 1st respondent and others, which trial may be truncated permanently should the 1st respondent absconds from the trial by failing to return to the country.
“A consideration for the entire circumstances of the case, including the huge sums of money involved, including extra-judicial statements of the 1st respondent in the proof of evidence before the trial court, acknowledging receipt of the sum of N1.219 billion ought to have dictated the refusal of the 1st respondent’ application for the release of his international passport by the trial court,” the EFCC said.
He, therefore, urged the Appeal Court to set aside the December 5 order by Justice Dimgba allowing the release of Agbele’s passport.
No date is given yet by the appellate court for the hearing of the appeal.