A former Minister of State for Defence, Sen. Musiliu Obanikoro on Monday, testified before a Federal High Court, Ikoyi, Lagos in a criminal trial of the immediate past governor of Ekiti State, Ayodele Fayose, who is facing charges of N6.9 billion fraud.
Fayose was arraigned by The Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) on Oct. 22, 2018, alongside a company Spotless Investment Ltd on 11 counts.
He pleaded not guilty to the charges, and the court granted him bail in the sum of N50 million with one surety in like sum.
Trial commenced on Nov. 19, 2018, with the EFCC calling four witnesses, while the court adjourned for continuation of trial.
On Monday, Mr Rotimi Jacobs (SAN) appeared for the EFCC, while Messrs Kanu Agabi (SAN) and Olalekan Ojo (SAN) represented the first and second accused respectively.
Jacobs then called the fifth prosecution witness, Obanikoro, to give his evidence.
Obanikoro mounted the witness box and opted to be sworn to oath by affirmation.
Leading the witness in his evidence in chief, Jacobs asked him “where were you in 2014” and in response the witness told the court that at the time, he was the Minister of State for Defence.
The prosecutor then asked the witness to tell the court what he knows in relation to the instant case.
In response, the witness told the court that in June 2014, close to the Ekiti State governorship election, he received a call from the accused, inquiring from him, if there was any message for him from the then National Security Adviser, (NSA) Col. Sambo Dasuki.
The witness said that he had replied that there was none, but had promised to check with the NSA and revert back, adding that eventually the NSA confirmed to him that he had a “message” for the accused and that the funds will be made available.
The prosecutor then showed the witness exhibit E to confirm if it was the account in which the funds were transferred and the witness replied yes.
Looking at the exhibit he told the court that on June 13 and June 16 there were monetary postings into the account, which was from the impress account of the NSA.
He said that he then inquired from the accused how he wanted the money, and he was informed that some amount should be sent in Naira while the others sent in dollars.
According to him, the money was eventually brought in a bullion van to the private wing of the Ikeja Airport, where one Agbele sent by the accused, was already on standby, adding that after confirmation from the accused, the money was lifted to Ekiti.
The witness told the court that afterwards, he went to Ado-Ekiti to meet the accused in his Hotel known as Spotless, and there, he handed him the dollar content which totaled five million dollars.
The prosecutor then asked “how many days to the Ekiti State election did you give him the money”
Witness: “About three days to the election”
Prosecution: “What is the source of the money?”
Witneaa: “The NSA is the only person that can ascertain the source of the money; it is from the impress account of the NSA”
Prosecution “how was the money debited”
In response, the witness told the court that he gave instructions to the MD of Diamond Bank, but was not available when the deductions were made.
When asked his connection with the accounts, Obanikoro replied that it was used for security purposes, adding that he does not wish to divulge further evidences on that.
After his evidence, the defence then sought for an adjournment to enable it cross examine the witness, and after several objections, and counter objections, the court eventually granted an adjournment until Feb. 4, 5 and 6 for cross examination.
According to the charge, on June 17, 2014, Fayose and Agbele were said to have taken possession of the sum of N1.2 billion, for purposes of funding his gubernatorial election campaign in Ekiti State, which sum they reasonably ought to have known formed part of crime proceeds.
Fayose was alleged to have received a cash payment of the sum of five million dollars, (about N1.8 billion) from the then Minister of State for Defence, Sen. Musiliu Obanikoro, without going through any financial institution and which sum exceeded the amount allowed by law.
He was also alleged to have retained the sum of N300 million in his Zenith Bank account and took control of the aggregate sums of about N622 million which sum he ought to have known formed part of crime proceeds.
Fayose was alleged to have procured De Privateer Ltd. and Still Earth Ltd., to retain in their Zenith and FCMB accounts, the aggregate sums of N851 million which they reasonably ought to have known formed part of crime proceeds.
Besides, the accused was alleged to have used the aggregate sums of about N1.6 billion to acquire properties in Lagos and Abuja, which sums he reasonably ought to have known formed part of crime proceeds.
The accused was also alleged to have used the sum of N200 million, to acquire a property in Abuja, in the name of his elder sister Moji Oladeji, which sum he ought to know also forms crime proceeds.
The offences contravene the provisions of sections 15(1), 15 (2), 15 (3), 16(2)(b), 16 (d), and 18 (c) of the Money Laundering Prohibition Act 2011.