According to a report by The Nation, the Federal High Court sitting in Lagos on Wednesday heard the Economic Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) exonerated a former Minister of State for Defence Misiliu Obanikoro of complicity in an alleged financial crime involving former Ekiti State governor, Mr. Ayodele Fayose, after detaining him for 21 days.
Obanikoro made the claim in his testimony in the EFCC’s ongoing trial of Fayose for alleged N4.6 billion fraud.
According to him, the sum of N2.2 billion was budgeted for 2014, Ekiti State governorship election of Fayose from the office of the National Security Adviser (NSA).
Led in evidence by the prosecutor, Mr. Rotimi Jacobs (SAN), the witness said the funds came from the NSA’s impress account to a firm, Silver Maclamaran Nigeria Limited.
He said: “I was invited by EFCC in 2016 and I came in from the United States of America but was incarcerated for 21 days, even when there is a presumption of innocence in law when an allegation like this arises.
“Yes, a letter of complaint was written from the office of the National Security Adviser but I believe that it was written out of ignorance because after all the investigations, common sense prevailed and I was exonerated.”
Under cross-examination by Mr. Olalekan Ojo (SAN), the witness distanced himself from the operation of Silver Maclamaran, the company account that was used to warehouse the N2.2bn.
Olalekan also questioned him on what he knows about a Committee for fundraising towards the 2014 Ekiti State governorship election.
“Yes, I was the chairman of the Committee and a lot of funds were contributed even up to the national level of our party,” Obanikoro said.
When asked if he could remember the name of any member of the funds raising committee, he said “I can remember T. K. Aluko and Lateef Agbaje.”
When also asked if he was a signatory to the accounts of Silver Maclamaran Nigeria Limited which received the funds from the office of NSA, he said no, adding that the signatory to the firm’s account was Olalekan Olalere
Justice Aneke adjourned further trial till March 20 and 21.
According to the charge, Fayose and Abiodun Agbele on June 17, 2014 illegally took possession of N1.2 billion to fund his gubernatorial election campaign in Ekiti.
Fayose also allegedly received a cash payment of $ 5 million (about N1.8 billion) from Obanikoro without going through any financial institution.
He is also charged with unlawfully retaining N300 million in a bank account and illegally taking control of about N622 million.
The EFCC alleged that the former governor reasonably ought to know that the money was part of the crime proceeds.
It also alleged that the defendants procured De Privateer Ltd. and Still Earth Ltd. to illegally retain N851 million.
It claimed that Fayose used about N1.6 billion in crime proceeds to acquire property in Lagos and Abuja.
The commission also charged Fayose with using N200 million in crime proceeds to acquire a property in Abuja in the name of his elder sister, Moji Oladeji.
Fayose pleaded not guilty and is out on bail.