The court trial of some Ibadan based bankers indicted in the theft of N8 billion worth of mutilated banknotes were on Wednesday told of the stupendous wealth of the suspects. The suspects, including a self-acclaimed illiterate bank staff were alleged to have acquired petrol stations, shopping malls in Nigeria and abroad, exotic cars, supermarkets, among others. However, a mild drama took place in the court as Mr. Ayodeji Alase, delayed the proceedings of the court, claiming he did not understand English language after working for years at First Bank Plc as a cash officer. Mr. Ayodeji Alase, one of the suspects and a holder of primary six certificate, was alleged to have acquired property including a duplex at Oluyole, a shopping complex, warehouse at Podo, Challenge and a fenced plot at Dugbe in Ibadan. He was also alleged to own a four flat building at Apeye, two plots of land, five-bedroom flat in Apete, Ibadan, a supermarket at New Garage, Apata Expressway.
Alase, who had earlier answered questions asked him by the trial judge, Justice A. O Faaji wanting to know the whereabouts of his counsel and his name, however, turned around to tell the same judge that he did not understand English language when the first count charge was read to him. Rotimi Jacob, SAN, who tried to fault his claim said the accused was employed as a guard but was promoted to a cash assistant in the bank. The trial judge then said since he insisted he did not understand English, an interpreter had to be used to translate the charges to him in Yoruba and also the proceedings of the court so that the accused would not be shut out. The interpreter initially secured, however, found the job difficult forcing the judge to screen another person for the job of interpretation.
The other accused persons, Olaniran Muniru Adeola, Ayodele Festus Adeyemi, Isiaq Akano and others were all alleged to own property in South Africa, petrol stations, cement shops, schools, supermarket, exotic cars, buildings in several places. All the eight accused persons, who were docked were denied bail and were remanded in Agodi Prison pending the determination of the bail applications they had filed. All the efforts by Mr. Olayemi Fasina, counsel to Alase to present an oral bail application were unsuccessful as the court told him that it would be unfair to hear his oral application when other counsel had filed their applications. The cases were heard in batches by the court. The first batch of accused persons who were slammed with a 28-count charge, are Kolawole Babalola, Olaniran Adeola, Toogun Phillip, Ayodele Adeyemi, Isiaq Akano, Oyebamiji Akeem, Ayodeji Alase, Ajiwe Sunday Adegoke and Idowu Oguntade, who is still at large. Three officials of the CBN were among the accused while others were from Wema Bank Plc and First Bank Plc. The three CBN staff, who were docked yesterday also appeared among a new set of accused. They were Toogun Phill, Kolawole Babalola and Olaniran Muniru Adeola. Rotimi Jacob, SAN, who had a retinue of other counsel held brief for the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, EFCC, which prosecuted the accused persons.