I was Investigated for Illicit Transfer of Funds, Says Obanikoro

0

A former Minister of State for Defence, Senator Musiliu Obanikoro, yesterday admitted before a Federal High Court in Lagos that he was investigated by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) for being privy to illicit transfer of funds.

Obanikoro made the statement while giving evidence in the criminal trial of the immediate-past Governor of Ekiti State, Ayodele Fayose, who is facing charges of an alleged N6.9 billion fraud.

Fayose was arraigned by the EFCC on October 22, 2018, alongside a company, Spotless Investment Ltd, on 11 counts.

He had pleaded not guilty to the charge, and the court had granted him bail in the sum of N50 million, with one surety in like sum.

Trial had commenced on November 19, 2018, with the EFCC calling four witnesses, while the court had then adjourned for continuation of trial.

Mr. Rotimi Jacobs (SAN) yesterday appeared for the EFCC, while Messrs Ola Olanipekun (SAN) and Olalekan Ojo (SAN) represented the first and second defendants, respectively.

Obanikoro, the fifth prosecution witness, who began his evidence on January 21, and was cross-examined on February 4, mounted the witness box in continuation of his cross-examination.

Under cross-examination by the second defence counsel, Mr. Olalekan Ojo (SAN), Obanikoro told the court that during his tenure as a Commissioner in Lagos in charge of Home Affairs and Culture, he had interfaced with various security agencies in the discharge of his duties.

According to him, he had sourced for a security outfit known as Silva Mcnamara, owned by one Kareem Taiwo, to the Office of the National Security Adviser when the need arose to provide for security operations in Lagos State.

He said that the outfit performed credibly and did a good job.

Ojo then asked the witness, “You said Kareem Taiwo did a good job,’’ witness replied “Yes.”

Ojo: “Then are you not surprised that a petition was still written by the NSA against both of you, for having gotten money from the NSA illicitly?’’

Obanikoro replied in the affirmative and added: “And I state that I deserve a medal of honour for the great work I did in securing Lagos State then.’’

Ojo: “I’m sure you are aware of the offences you were alleged to have committed, for which you were granted bail by the EFCC,’’ witness replied ‘Yes’.

Defence counsel then asked the witness to tell the court the offence.

Obanikoro replied: “It was based on a petition sent by the NSA that about N4.6 billion or thereabout was sent in an account operated by me, without proper documentation’’.

Defence counsel: “Will I be right to say that the allegations consisted of fraud’’.

Witness: “Until I see it’’.

Defence Counsel asked: “Are you still on Administrative bail?’’

Witness replied: “Well, I have not been discharged, to the best of my knowledge’’.

Defence counsel: “It was also alleged that there were no approvals for the funds alleged to have been transferred to a number of companies listed in exhibit I, including Silva Mcnamara,’’ the witness replied: “correct’’.

Defence counsel: “So I suggest to you that at all material time, you were being investigated to have been privy to the illicit transfer of funds’’.

Witness: “Correct’’.

Defence counsel: “Till today, the allegation of illicit transfer of funds has not being withdrawn against you by the EFCC’’.

Witness: “To the best of my knowledge, you are correct’’.

Defence counsel: “Did you produce any document to show the relationship between Kareem and the Office of the NSA, contrary to allegations that the NSA does not know him?’’

The witness replied: “No’’, and added that the Office of the NSA had responsibility for coordination of security across the nation, some of which are clandestine and not documented.

On who gave instructions to the bank for the release of N1.2 billion, Obanikoro replied that “I was the only person that gave instructions to the bank’’.

Defence counsel: “Can you tell the court by what means you gave the instruction and to whom?’’