Obanikoro narrates how Fayose allegedly took N1.2bn for the election

Former Minister of State for Defence, Mr. Musiliu Obanikoro, recounted on Tuesday before a Federal High Court in Lagos State how N1.2 billion was allegedly taken from former Governor Ayodele Fayose of Ekiti, using a plane.

Fayose is being prosecuted by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission for alleged fraud and money laundering.

He was first arraigned on 22 October 2018 before Judge Mojisola Olatotegun along with his company, Spotless Investment Ltd, on 11 counts.

He pleaded not guilty to the charges and was granted bail on 24 October 2018 in the amount of N50 million with collateral for the same amount.

However, the defendant appeared before Judge Chukwujekwu Aneke again on July 2, 2019, after the case was withdrawn from Judge Olatoregun at the request of the EFCC.

Fayose also pleaded not guilty to the charges and was allowed to continue on the bail previously granted.

Since then, the EFCC has opened its case before Judge Aneke and is still presenting witnesses in the evidence.

In December 2021, the commission called its 11th witness, Ms. Joanne Tolulope, who narrated how one Abiodun Agbele, an alleged associate of Fayose, allegedly purchased millions of Naira worth of property for the defendants.

When the case was called on Tuesday, Mr Rotimi Jacobs (SAN) announced his appearance for the EFCC.

Messrs. Ola Olanipekun (SAN) and Olalekan Ojo (SAN) announced appearances of the first and second accused, respectively.

Olanipekun then called the 12the prosecution witness, Obanikoro, to testify.

Obanikoro told the court that when he was Minister of State for Defence, he operated a company known as Sivan Mcmera which was later used for security operations in Lagos.

He told the court that he aimed to exclude the activities of state terrorists, following intelligence reports.

However, he said that before he became a minister, the company was operated by his son.

Obanikoro testified that his son resigned as director of the company and operator of his bank account when it was used for security purposes.

He said that he consequently became the operator of the account.

According to him, the internal security for the clandestine operations in Lagos state was also used to block the activities of the terrorists.

Furthermore, the witness told the court that the security operations were funded by the Office of the National Security Adviser.

Asked if he knew a late Mr. Kareem Taiwo, he answered in the affirmative and added that said Taiwo was part of those who helped with security operations.

Asked by the prosecution’s lawyer to review the Schedule E Series and explain the transaction of 5 June 2014 and how it related to the present case, the witness told the court that there was an inflow of N200 million in the account of the NSA office

He told the court that although he could not remember exactly how he got in, he could see from the evidence that there was an inflow of N200 million on June 5, 2014 and N2 billion on June 16, 2014 from an NSA paper account.

In addition, he told the court that he had received a call from Fayose, who was then running for governor in Ekiti, asking if he had received any money from the NSA Office.

The witness told the court that he replied, ‘No,’ and promised to return to the defendant if the money came.

He said that when the money finally dropped, he informed the defendant and asked him how he wanted it sent to him.

Obanikoro testified that Fayose indicated that one part should be in dollars and the other in naira.

The witness told the court that he then called Ado-Ekiti to inquire at a bank if he had the amount, but was told that the branch did not.

He told the court that since the elections were fast approaching at the time, he had to take the money by plane from Lagos.

He said the money was taken in two batches.

He said the first batch was loaded onto an aircraft that transported it, while the remaining batch was loaded onto another aircraft.

Obanikoro said the total amount was 1.2 billion naira.

Obanikoro added that the dollars were obtained through an exchange house, but said he could not remember the exact amount.

He told the court that when he arrived in Akure, he saw an assistant to the defendant who came up to him and introduced himself.

He said he then phoned Fayose and asked him to hand over the money to the deputy.

The witness told the court that he then instructed his assistant to go with the assistant while he went to Ado-Ekiti to meet Fayose.

He testified that in Akure he saw a bullion van come to collect the money.

Obanikoro said that he met Fayose at a hotel in Ado Ekiti and told him about what happened at the airport.

The court adjourned the case until February 1 to continue with the trial.

The Nigerian News Agency reports that during the trial before Olatoregun, the prosecution called witnesses from several commercial banks, as well as from Obanikoro.

According to the charge against Fayose, on June 17, 2014, he and Abiodun Agbele illegally took possession of 1.2 billion naira in order to finance their gubernatorial election campaign in Ekiti.

Fayose also allegedly received a cash payment of five million dollars (about 1.8 billion naira) from Obanikoro without going through any financial institution.

He is also accused of illegally withholding 300 million naira in a bank account and illegally taking control of around 622 million naira.

The EFCC alleges that the former governor should reasonably have known that the money was part of the proceeds of crime.

It also alleges that the defendants engaged De Privateer Ltd. and Still Earth Ltd. to unlawfully withhold N851 million.

He claims that Fayose used around N1.6 billion of crime proceeds to acquire property in Lagos and Abuja.

The commission also accused Fayose of using 200 million naira proceeds from the crime to purchase a property in Abuja in the name of her older sister, Moji Oladeji.

The alleged offenses contravene Sections 15(1), 15(2), 15(3), 16(2)(b), 16(d) and 18(c) of the Prohibition of Money Laundering Act 2011.


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