Former Minister of State for Defence, Senator Musiliu Obanikoro, has revealed that the funds which he made available to Ekiti State Governor, Ayodele Fayose, was to incorporate local input into the intelligence gathering and prevention of terrorist attack on Lagos and the South-West in general by Boko Haram insurgents.
Obanikoro, who returned to the country yesterday and reported at the headquarters of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC), is being invetegated on allegations of money laundering of N4.745billion wired to a company linked to him by the Office of the National Security Adviser (ONSA).
According to The Nation, Obanikoro confessed that the said cash was wired into a company, Sylva Mcnamara within seven months in 2014 to ward off of a plot by Boko Haram to attack Lagos adding that he is not the owner of the company.
He revealed that N2.23billion was transferred to Fayose out of the funds which was sourced from $2.1billion meant for arms from ONSA.
He said out of the sum, he handed over $5,377,000 to Fayose in cash and N1.3billion was received by the governor’s associate, Mr. Abiodun Agbele.
He admitted that the N1.3billion was flown to Akure airport in two chartered flights for delivery to Agbele.
Accompanied by his lawyer, James Onoja (SAN), the ex-Minister was confronted with a petition from ONSA which was dated November 28, 2015 titled ‘Payment to companies with no contract awards or approval.’
He disclosed that having gone through the petition, he discovered that Sylva Mcnamara was No. 78 on the list of firms being investigated having “collected the aggregate sum of N4,685,000,000 between April 4, 2014 and November 13, 2014.
“The sum of N2.2billion was transferred to Sylva Mcnamara for onward transfer to Mr. Ayodele Fayose on the instruction of the NSA,” The Nation quoted Obanikoro through a source.
“The sum of N1.3billion cash was brought in a bullion van by Diamond Bank on the instruction of the NSA.
“In addition, the sum of N60million was converted to dollars at the rate of N168 per dollar and altogether the sum of $5,377,000 was handed over in cash by me to Mr. Fayose while the N1.3billion was received by Mr. Fayose’s associate, Mr. Abiodun Agbele in the presence of my Aide-de-Camp (ADC), Lt. Adewale who also accompanied them to the bank along with the bank officials.
“I didn’t interact with the bank officials. I called Fayose before the funds were handed over to Mr. Abiodun Agbele. I spoke to Fayose with my phone at Akure airport.
“Two flights were used to convey the money from Lagos. I took off with the first flight with part of the money while the second flight brought the remaining funds to Akure local airport and I directed that it should be handed over to the same person.”
The EFCC, however believes that the company, Sylvan Mcnamara Limited, incorporated in November 2011, is owned by Obanikoro and his sons, was used to launder the N4.745billion.
“To set the stage for the use of the company for money laundering, the board of directors on May 7, 2012 passed a resolution that the company should open an account and appointed Mr. Gbolahan Obanikoro, Ikenna Ezekwe, Ms. Theresa Matuluko (Secretary) and Mr. Babajide Obanikoro as the signatories to the account,” EFCC said.
“The board added that the signing combination be that any of the signatories can sign alone.”
According to EFCC, when it was time to illegally draw the N4.745billion from ONSA as war chest for Ekiti Governorship poll, ex-Minister Obanikoro made the account of Sylvan Mcnamara Limited available and coordinated the disbursement.
“The breakdown of the disbursement was as follows: N N759, 384, 300 changed into dollars through Bureau De Change firms; N160million used to purchase cars; N1, 219, 490,000 ferried by Obanikoro in two flights to a branch of Zenith Bank at Plot 13, Alagbaka Estate, Akure to evacuate the cash and received by Fayose’s associate, Abiodun; balance of about N2billion withdrawn by Obanikoro and his two children in cash.”
Story by David Oputah