A former minister of state for defence, Senator Musiliu Obanikoro, yesterday told a Federal High Court in Lagos that he was instructed by a former National Security Adviser, Col Sambo Dasuki (rtd), to transfer N1.2 billion to former governor of Ekiti State, Peter Ayodele Fayose, from an account used as Boko Haram Special Intervention Account.
Obanikoro, who was testifying as an Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) witness in the ongoing trial of Fayose over an alleged N3.3 billion fraud, claimed that the N1.2 billion was initially transferred from the impress account of the NSA into the special intervention account.
The former governor alongside his company, Spotless Investment Limited, is facing an 11-count charge of criminal breach of trust, theft and stealing of public funds.
The anti-graft agency alleged that Fayose and one Abiodun Agbele, who is also standing trial on alleged money laundering offences before another division of the court, on June 17, 2014, took possession of N1.219 billion, to fund his 2014 governorship campaign in Ekiti State. He, however, pleaded not guilty to the charge.
In his evidence, the former minister testified that sometime in June 2014, just before the 2014 governorship election in Ekiti State, he received a call from Fayose, enquiring if he (Obanikoro) had a message for him from Dasuki.
Obanikoro said as at that time. he had no such message. Still, shortly after the call, a letter came from the former NSA instructing him to pay a certain amount of money into the account that was opened to manage the Boko haram threat under his watch as minister of state for defence.
He informed the court that when he was the minister of state for defence, he operated a company known as Silver Maclamaran Nigeria Limited, which was later utilised for security operations in Lagos.
Obanikoro, while being led in evidence by the prosecutor, Rotimi Jacobs (SAN), said the sum of N2.2 billion was budgeted for the 2014 Ekiti State governorship election and Ayodele Fayose from the office of NSA.
The former minister said the funds came from the National Security Adviser’s imprest account to Silver Maclamaran Nigeria Limited. The company is under his control.
The witness, however, under cross-examination by Olalekan Ojo (SAN), distanced himself from the running of the Silver Maclamaran Nigeria Limited account.
When asked what he knows about a committee for fundraising towards the 2014 Ekiti State governorship election, Obanikoro said: “Yes, I was the chairman of the Committee and a lot of funds were contributed even up to the national level of our party.”
When also asked by Ojo if he can remember the name of any member of the funds raising committee, he said, “Yes, I can remember T. K. Aluko and Lateef Agbaje.”
When also asked if he was a signatory to Silver Maclamaran Nigeria Limited, which received the funds from the office of the NSA, he answered no. When asked who was the signatory to the company‘s account, the witness said one Olalekan Olalere.
Obanikoro also told the court that he was detained for 21 days by the EFCC during their investigation into the allegations.
He said: “The EFCC invited me in 2016, and I came in from the United States of America but was incarcerated for 21 days, even when there is a presumption of innocence in law when allegations like this arise.
“Yes, a letter of complaint was written from the office of the National Security Adviser (NSA), but I believe that it was written out of ignorance because after all the investigation, common sense prevailed, and I was exonerated,” he claimed. Justice Aneke has adjourned the matter to March 20 for the continuation of the trial.