Legal and Judicial Affairs

Alleged N2.2bn Fraud: I didn’t Give Fayose Illicit Funds- Obanikoro

A former Minister of State for Defence, Musiliu Obanikoro, has told Justice Mojisola Olatoregun of the Federal High Court sitting in Ikoyi, Lagos how a former Governor of Ekiti State, Ayodele Fayose, who is facing trial over an alleged N2.2 billion fraud charge, received the money.

Fayose was arraigned along with his company, Spotless Investment Limited, on October 22, 2018, on an 11-count charge bordering on fraud and money laundering to the tune of over N2.2 billion.

The defendant is facing trial in connection with the sums of N1.299 billion and $5.3 million out of the N4.65 billion slush funds allegedly shared by the Office of the National Security Adviser, ONSA, under then NSA, Col. Sambo Dasuki (retd).

Testifying on February 5, 2019, Obanikoro, while being cross-examined by counsel for the second defendant, Olalekan Ojo, SAN, said he was invited to the EFCC office, following a petition written against him by the Office of the current NSA.

“The Office of the National Security Adviser wrote a petition against me based on a sum of N4.7 billion that was not properly documented, he said.

He further told the court that ONSA wrote two different petitions to the EFCC dated November 28, 2015 and February 18, 2016 respectively.

During the proceedings, Ojo told the witness that there was no approval for the funds transferred to a company, Sylvan McNamara Limited, to which Obanikoro confirmed in the affirmative.

When asked to confirm that the funds were illicitly paid into the account of Sylvan McNamara Limited,which led to the investigation by the EFCC, Obanikoro said he was surprised that the current NSA described the funds as illicit.

He said: I was surprised that the current NSA described the funds as illicit.

The funds transferred from the Office of NSA to the account of Sylvan McNamara Limited were not illicit to the best of my knowledge.

However, when Ojo put it to him that he and ONSA gave instructions to the management of Diamond Bank Plc to pay the sum of N1.2 billion into the account of Sylvan McNamara Limited, Obanikoro said he alone did, adding that I was the only person that gave instructions to the bank.

He added that: The NSA never gave instructions to the bank. I gave verbal instructions to the Managing Director of Diamond Bank, Mr. Alex Otti, who is my friend.

When asked why he did not put the instruction in writing, he said: I did not put the instruction in writing because of the nature of the account.

Also when asked if the management of Sylvan McNamara approached him to give instructions on its behalf, he said No.

He further confirmed that his children, Gbolahan and Babajide, were signatories to the account of Sylvan McNamara, before 2014.

When asked again if he produced any document to the EFCC showing payment of the sum of N1.2bn to Sylvan McNamara, Obanikoro replied No.

Obanikoro also added that his name did not reflect in the company’s statement of account because of the nature of the transaction, adding that ” I gave the instructions on the phone.”

But when asked how he knew about the company, he said, I had known Sylvan McNamara Limited before recommending it to the NSA.

At that time, it was owned by Taiwo Kareem.

He told the court that Fayose took all the money from him.

Source: EFCC Nigeria