A former Minister of State for Defence, Sen. Musiliu Obanikoro, appeared before a Federal High Court sitting in Lagos, to give evidence as a prosecution witness in the trial of former Ekiti State governor, Mr. Ayodele Fayose, who is facing a N6.9 billion fraud charge.
Backstory: Fayose was arraigned by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) alongside a company Spotless Investment Ltd., on 11 counts, to which he pleaded not guilty and was granted bail.
Obanikoro who admitted to delivering N2.2 billion to Fayose from the then National Security Adviser (NSA) Col. Sambo Dasuki (rtd.), stated that he was unaware of the source of the funds but was however certain that it came from the imprest account of the NSA. “The NSA is the only person that can ascertain the source of the money; it is from the Imprest Account of the NSA,” the former minister said.
At a hearing on the matter on Jan. 22, Obanikoro told the court that in June 2014, close to the Ekiti State governorship election, he received a call from Fayose, inquiring if there was a “message” for him from the then NSA, Col. Dasuki (rtd.). He said there wasn’t but soon received a message from the NSA “saying certain amount of money would be received into the account that was opened for security. The NSA told me that Fayose would call me as to how he would receive the money.”
The money was allegedly taken in a bullion van to the private wing of the Lagos airport in Ikeja where an ally of the former governor, Biodun Agbele, was on hand to take delivery. Obanikoro also confirmed that he delivered $5m to Fayose in person three days to the 2014 governorship election at the Spotless hotel in Ado-Ekiti.
Obanikoro said that the account in which the money was lodged by the NSA was a security account but added that he would not divulge further information about it.
The court granted an adjournment on the matter until Feb. 4, 5 and 6 for cross-examination.
Bottom Line: Obanikoro, who was an ally of former President Goodluck Jonathan and Ayo Fayose in the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) has since defected to the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC). Like so many others, his links to the APC seems to have freed him from any liability in the fraud case such that he is now a prosecution witness. This is despite evidence (even from his own mouth) that he was deeply involved in whatever transpired before the Ekiti 2014 election. Before his defection, the APC vehemently linked him to the alleged crime, but those cries are now muted since he is one of them.