A former Minister of State for Defence, Senator Musiliu Obanikoro, has told the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission that he gave the sum of N2.3 billion to the Governor of Ekiti State, Ayodele Fayose, in the run-up to the Ekiti State governorship election in 2014.
Obanikoro was said to have also told operatives that N60 million was converted to dollars at N168 to a dollar and given to Fayose.
The PUNCH learnt on Tuesday that the minister told operatives of the anti-graft commission, who continued his interrogation in Abuja on Tuesday, that he personally handed over N5,357,357 to the governor on an occasion.
A top operative of the commission, who spoke to our correspondent on condition of anonymity, said Obanikoro told his interrogators that the money was transferred to Fayose on the instruction of the former National Security Adviser, Col. Sambo Dasuki, (retd.).
The source alleged that following the instructions from the former NSA, the sum of N1.3bn was brought for transfer to Fayose by Diamond Bank in a bullion van.
Obanikoro was also said to have told the EFCC operatives that Agbele received the money in the presence of the ex-minister’s Aide De Camp, one Lt. Adewale, and officials of Diamond Bank at the Lagos airport.
The source added, “The former minister, Obanikoro has made some revelations. You know that he responded to a petition from the office of the NSA dated 28/11/2015 under the category ‘Payment without award of contracts’.
“He admitted that N2.23bn was transferred to Macnamara for onward transfer to Governor Ayodele Fayose. He claimed that it was done on the instructions of the NSA.
“He also said he handed over N5,357,357 to Fayose.
“Obanikoro told the commission that the N1.3bn was received by Mr. Biodun Agbele, one of Fayose’s associates, in the presence of his (Obanikoro) ADC, one Lt. Adewale, and bank officials.”
The former minister was said to have told his interrogators that while he had no interaction with the officials of the bank, he called Fayose to have his consent to hand over the money to Agbele.
The source stated that Obanikoro also told his interrogators that Agbele used his (Obanikoro) mobile to speak to Fayose to confirm receipt of the money.
“Obanikoro also said the money was moved from the Lagos airport to Akure airport in two flights.
“He said he instructed that the money be handed over to the governor before leaving with the first flight,” the source said.
The source said the ex-defence minister, however, denied ownership of Sylvan Mcnamara, the company that received N4.685bn from the ONSA between April 4, 2014 and November 13, 2014.
The anti-graft agency had alleged that Obanikoro’s sons, Babajide and Gbolahan, were directors in Sylvan Mcnamara as of the time the money was paid into the company’s account.
The former minister was quoted to have admitted that he introduced the owner of the firm, whose name was given as Mr. Kareem Taiwo, to the former NSA in the days of heightened fear of possible Boko Haram attacks on Lagos and the South-West.
The source stated, “He denied being the owner of the company but admitted introducing the owner of the company, one Mr. Kareem Taiwo, to the NSA during the days of the threat of Boko Haram in Lagos and the South-West.
“He said the company was introduced to the ONSA at a time government was taking a decision to incorporate local input into intelligence gathering to prevent terrorists attacks in Lagos and the South-West.”
The PUNCH learnt that the former minister was being questioned by the commission for receipt of funds from the ONSA without contract awards.
The firm, which received the money from the ONSA, Mcnamara, was said to be listed as number 78 among companies that received funds from the ONSA.
Our correspondent learnt that Obanikoro was still being detained by the EFCC as of the time of fling this report on Tuesday night to continue with the agency’s investigations on Wednesday.