Sen. Musiliu Obanikoro, former Minister of State for Defence, told a Federal High Court in Lagos on Monday how he sent funds over to Ekiti State few days before the governorship election following the order of the National Security Adviser (NSA).
The ex-minister is the fifth prosecution witness in the ongoing trial of former governor of Ekiti State, Ayodele Fayose, who was accused of money laundering to the tune of N6.9 billion by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC).
It would be recalled that Fayose was arraigned by EFCC on October 22, 2018, alongside a company, Spotless Investment Limited, on 11 counts.
He, however, pleaded not guilty to the charges, and the court granted him bail in the sum of N50 million with one surety in like sum.
At the resumption of proceedings on Monday, Obanikoro who was being led in evidence by EFCC prosecutor, Rotimi Jacobs, said in 2014 he was the Minister of State for Defence.
In his testimony before the court in relation to the fraud case against Fayose, Obanikoro said in June 2014, close to the Ekiti State governorship election, he received a call from Fayose enquiring from him if there was any message for him from the then National Security Adviser (NSA), Col. Sambo Dasuki.
The witness said he replied that there was none, but promised to check with the NSA and revert back, adding that eventually the NSA confirmed to him that he had a “message” for the defendant and that the funds would be made available.
He said that he then inquired from the former governor how he wanted the money, and he was informed that some amount should be sent in naira while the other 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 taken 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 totalled five million dollars.
Obanikoro then said that he gave Fayose the money three days to the Ekiti State governorship election.
When Jacobs asked Obanikoro if he knew the source of the money, Obanikoro replied: “The NSA is the only person that can ascertain the source of the money; it is from the imprest account of the NSA.”
The witness further told the court that he gave instructions to the MD of Diamond Bank to make the money available in naira denomination.
When asked his connection with the accounts, Obanikoro replied that it was used for security purposes, adding that he did not wish to divulge further evidences on that.
The presiding judge, Justice Mojisola Olatoregun, thereafter adjourned the matter till February 4, 5, and 6 for cross examination.
The EFCC had alleged that 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.
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 account and took control of the aggregate sums of about N622 million which sum he 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 formed part of crime proceeds.
The offences contravened 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.