No proof of handing N1.2bn to Fayose, Obanikoro tells court
“In our line of business it’s not customary to ask for receipt or acknowledgement of such money. So, there was no confirmation of the money”-Obanikoro
Lagos politician and former Minister of State for Defence in the Goodluck Jonathan Presidency, Senator Musiliu Obanikoro on Tuesday told a Federal High Court in Lagos that he has no document to support the N1.2 billion he allegedly gave the former governor of Ekiti State, Ayodele Fayose.
Obanikoro, the 12th prosecution witness in the ongoing trial Fayose, and his company, Spotless Investment Limited, charged by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, EFCC over alleged N6.9bn fraud and money laundering, made the new revelation to Justice told the trial judge, Justice Chukujekwu Aneke.
The former minister, had in his previous testimony before the court stated that the N1.2 billion was deposited into the account of a company, Sylva McNamara which was used to fund clandestine security operations aimed at preventing terrorists’ activities in Lagos State in two batches.
When the matter was called for continuation of trial, Rotimi Jacobs (SAN) announced appearance for prosecution, Ola Olanipeku (SAN) announced appearance for the first Defendant, Ayodele Fayose while Olalekan Ojo (SAN) announced appearance for the second Defendant, Spotless Investment Limited.
During cross-examination by counsel to the second defendant, Olakekan Ojo, SAN, Obanikoro told the court that during his several visits to the EFCC, he never or show EFCC operatives any document showing that he gave instruction or withdraw the sum of N1.2 billion from the Diamond bank account of Sylva McNamara Limited.
When reminded that in his earlier evidence, he stated that he took over the control and management of Sylva McNamara account in Diamond Bank, the witness answered in the affirmative.
Asked if he produced any resolution of Board of Directors of Sylva McNamara authorizing him to control the management of the account of the company, Obanikoro said “No I didn’t produce any Board resolution or letter to the EFCC. Also there was no letter from Sylva McNamara to then Diamond Bank, telling the bank that I was asked to control and manage the account
He also told the court that the former National Security Adviser, Sambo Dasuki, had no interactions with the first Defendant or Diamond bank in respect of the N1.2 billion withdrawn from the account of Sylva McNamara Limited.
Obanikoro who told the court that after various investigations, the EFCC exonerated him of any wrongdoing, added that he was made to refund between N100m and N200m to the Federal government under duress.
He also told the court that he had instructed his lawyers to write the EFCC for the return of the money he allegedly refunded under duress.
Asked if he had received the $4 billion he allegedly gave to the former governor, Obanikoro said “in our line of business it’s not customary to ask for receipt or acknowledgement of such money. So, there was no confirmation of the money”.
Justice Chukujekwu Aneke adjourned the matter till May 6, 9, and June 6, 8, 2023 respectively.
The Lagos Zonal Command of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, EFCC, had, re-arraigned Fayose and Spotless Investment Limited on an 11-count charge bordering on money laundering and stealing to the tune of N6.9bn ( Six Billion Nine Hundred Naira).
The defendants had first been arraigned on October 22, 2018 before Justice Mojisola Olatoregun.
Fayose and his company were re-arraigned before Justice Chukwujekwu Aneke for alleged money laundering and non-declaration of his assets.
In the amended charge, Fayose and one Abiodun Agbele, who is also standing trial on alleged money laundering offences before another division of the court, were alleged to have on June 17, 2014, taken possession of N1.219 billion to fund Fayose’s 2014 gubernatorial campaign in Ekiti State. They were accused of committing criminal breach of trust, theft and stealing of public funds.
They were also alleged to have on the same June 17, 2014, without going through financial institutions, received $5 million from Senator Musiliu Obanikoro, who was the Minister of State for Defence.
In the charge, the EFCC alleged that Fayose on April 7, 2015, retained N300 million in his fixed deposit account domiciled in a bank.
Fayose and his company, Spotless Limited, were also alleged to have between June 17 and August 4, 2014, taken control of 317 million, and deposited it in the same bank with a different account number.
The former Ekiti State governor was also alleged to have between June 26 and August 27, 2014, taken control of N305,760,000, which formed part of the proceeds of the unlawful act. He was also accused of procuring Abiodun Agbele and a company, De-privateer Limited, to retain N719,490,000 in the bank.
The EFCC further alleged that Fayose used N270 million and N1.15 billion respectively to acquire property at Plot 1504, Yedsema Street, Maitama, Abuja, from one Rabi Kundili, and Chalets 3, 4, 6 and 9, at Plot 100, Tiyamiyu Savage Street, Victoria Island, Lagos, in the name of JJ Technical Services.
He was also alleged to have between October 16 and December 31, 2018 failed to declare his assets and property by not completing the declaration form during investigation.
The offences, according to the EFCC, are contrary to sections 15 (2)(d); 1 and 16 (d) of the Money Laundering (Prohibition) Act, 2011 as amended, and punishable under Section 15 (3) (4); 16 (2) (b) of the same Act.
He was also alleged to have acted contrary to Section 27(1)(3)(c) of the EFCC (Establishment) Act, 2004.
Fayose denied the allegations and pleaded not guilty to all 11 counts of charges.
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