Obanikoro, Alex Otti to testify in Fayose’s criminal trial – EFCC

Musiliu Obanikoro
Musiliu Obanikoro

The Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) has listed a former minister of state for defence, Musiliu Obanikoro, and a gubernatorial candidate in Abia State, Alex Otti, as key witnesses in the criminal prosecution of Ayodele Fayose.

Mr Fayose, the immediate past governor of Ekiti State, is facing an 11-count charge of conspiracy and money laundering amounting to ₦6.5 billion.

Also listed as a defendant in the suit is Spotless Limited, a company owned by Mr Fayose.

The EFCC is accusing Mr Fayose of taking possession of ₦1.2 billion, suspected to be proceeds of an unlawful act, to fund his gubernatorial campaign in 2014.

The commission is also accusing the former governor of receiving $5 million from Mr Obanikoro in June 2014, in Lagos, without going through a financial institution.

Other allegations against Mr Fayose, according to the charge sheet seen by PREMIUM TIMES include using ₦270 million to acquire a property in Maitama, an upscale district in Abuja; paying ₦1.15 billion for a property in Victoria Island, Lagos; and ₦200 million for another property in Maitama.

The witnesses

Mr Fayose submitted himself to the EFCC last Tuesday, less than 24 hours after he left office. He made a spectacle of the action, arriving with sleeping material and accompanied by top party officials including Nyesom Wike, the Rivers State Governor, and Femi Fani-Kayode, a former aviation minister.

He has been in the anti-graft agency’s custody ever since.

The commission said 22 listed witnesses would appear during Mr Fayose’s trial including its own investigators, bank officials, and real estate practitioners.

According to the EFCC, the former Ekiti governor called Mr Obanikoro, who was a federal minister in 2014 when he was seeking re-election, to ask if he had been reached by then National Security Adviser, Sambo Dasuki.

Messrs Obanikoro and Fayose were members of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) at that time, before the former’s eventual defection to the All Progressives Congress (APC) last year.

“Senator Obanikoro answered in the negative but promised to call the NSA and revert back to him,” the EFCC stated.

“He (Obanikoro) spoke to the then NSA who informed him that he had a message which will be transmitted through him to Ayodele Fayose and further requested for an account in which the said message will be transferred or delivered for onward transfer or delivery to Ayodele Fayose.

“Senator Obanikoro then called Fayose and confirmed to him that a message will be delivered to him any moment from that time as confirmed by the NSA. He sourced for an account Slyvan Mcnamara Limited and forwarded same to the NSA, Sambo Ibrahim Dasuki.

“On 5th June, the first transaction of N200 million entered into the account and on 16th June, 2014, the sum of N2 Billion was transferred into the account, making it a total sum of N2.2 Billion paid into Mcnamara with Diamond Bank domiciled in Lagos.”

The EFCC said Mr Obanikoro acknowledged receipt of the funds and was instructed by Mr Sambo, a retired colonel, to pass the money to Mr Fayose.

“Ayodele Fayose called Senator Obanikoro several times before the money eventually came and on his last call, he confirmed the transfer of the money into the account and the instruction of NSA. Ayodele Fayose said N1.2 billion of the money should be made available in cash while the balance should be converted into Dollars.

“These instructions were carried out by him (Obanikoro). The sum of about N1 billion was given to various Bureau De Change for conversion into dollars.

“The dollars that were available about $4 million plus was personally handed, delivered to Fayose Ayodele, then candidate of PDP at the time by him in Ado Ekiti at Spotless Hotel, while the balance of $1 million was later collected by his SAA late Justin Erukea who brought it to him in Ekiti which he also handled over to Mr. Ayodele Fayose.”

Another listed witness in the suit is Mr Otti, the All Progressives Grand Alliance gubernatorial candidate for the 2019 election in Abia State.

“He (Otti) was the Group Managing Director of Diamond Bank Plc, he recalled that sometimes in 2014, Senator Musiliu Obanikoro, the then Minister of State for Defence came to his office in Lagos to explain that he was expecting certain sums of money from Central Bank of Nigeria into the account of Sylvan Mcmanara Limited,” the EFCC said.

“He called the Head of Operation who confirmed the receipt of the funds and the credit of same into the account domiciled at Apapa as specified by the transfer instrument. Senator Musiliu Obanikoro requested he needed the money or most of it in Ekiti. The bank offered to transfer the funds electronically into Ekiti but Senator Obanikoro preferred that the money be delivered cash in Ekiti.

“The bank then charged a fee of 5% and then made arrangement to transfer the cash to Ekiti the next day.

“However, Senator Obanikoro called later that his partner rejected the fee on the ground that it was too high and they would rather take delivery of the money in Lagos and fly it to Ekiti. An arrangement was made by the bank and cash were made available and the cash was taking away from Lagos.”

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