A former Minister of State for Defence, Senator Musiliu Obanikoro has narrated before Justice Nnamdi Dimgba of the Federal High Court, Abuja, how he and others airlifted N1.219billion cash to former Ekiti State Governor, Ayodele Fayose for the governorship election in the state.
He made the statement before the court on Wednesday, November 29, 2023.
According to him, the inability of a defunct commercial bank (Diamond Bank) to disburse huge sums of money prompted the airlifting.
Fayose is facing trial by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, EFCC, alongside his firm, Spotless Investment Limited, following their alleged involvement in N6.9 billion money laundering.
When prosecution counsel, Wahab Shittu, SAN, asked him to shed light on the source of the said N1.219billion, Obanikoro replied that he did not know the source of the money and that he only got the information on the money from the former National Security Adviser, NSA, Col Sambo Dasuki (retd). He explained that it was the former NSA that contacted him that the said money had been paid into the account of Sylvan Mcnamara Ltd.
He told the court that: “I was a minister under Jonathan administration in 2014. Sometime in 2014, we were going to have an election in Ekiti State. I was saddled with the responsibility of coordinating the activities in the election. Some days before the election, I got a call from Governor Fayose asking me if I received any message for him from ONSA, I can recall that prior to that, we had some activities among which was fund raising for the purpose of that election. When Mr. Fayose called, I told him I would call him later. I had a phone conversation with the NSA, and was told he would get back to me. After, he got back to me that N2.2billion was paid into the account of Sylvan Mcnamara Ltd,” he added.
“The money came from the NSA. I can’t vouch for the source of the funds. Only the NSA can explain the source of the fund.”
"I handed over the N1.219million cash to Agbele for onward delivery to Fayose. I did not take any money or N19million, contrary to a publication by a Lagos-based online platform."
When asked about his relationship with Sylvan Mcnamara Ltd, the former minster stated that “the account was created to deal with the issue of Boko Haram in Lagos, the account was created by Taiwo Kareem and was used for the purpose of disbursing funds for election. I put a call through to let Fayose know that the money had been paid. Diamond Bank had said it did not have the capacity to make the funds available, so we opted to airlift the funds. The funds were airlifted from Lagos in two tranches, the volume was much."
"Myself, my ADC and my security orderly were there, including a top aide of Fayose to meet Mr. Agbele, the bank manager. I instructed my orderly to escort Mr Agbele and ensure the safe delivery of the money."
When Shittu asked him about the source and what the funds were meant for, Obanikoro stated that “it was meant for our election in Ekiti. It came from Diamond Bank. N1.219billion was moved from Diamond Bank out of the N2.2billion.”
Obanikoro further informed the court that Diamond bank in Ado Ekiti said it lacked the capacity. “We airlifted the funds from Lagos in two tranches because the aircraft could not accommodate the funds. We used two aircraft and I was in one of the aircrafts.
Justice Dimgba thereafter adjourned the matter to February 27, 2024 for continuation of trial.