Eniola Akinkuotu, Abuja
A former Minister of State for Defence, Senator Musiliu Obanikoro, was at the Abuja office of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission on Monday where he agreed to testify against Governor Ayodele Fayose of Ekiti State and his aide, Mr. Abiodun Agbele.
A reliable source said, “Senator Obanikoro came to the EFCC office on Monday morning as part of investigations into the N4.7bn. Since he has confessed that he was the one who collected the N4.7bn and distributed it, he is in the best position to testify in court.
“The EFCC wants him to testify against Agbele which will also build a strong case against Fayose who currently enjoys immunity. Obanikoro has agreed and will be listed as one of the EFCC witnesses.
“If Agbele is convicted, it automatically means that Fayose will also be convicted once he is charged in 2018. So let Fayose continue to play games. Omisore and Obanikoro are cooperating and returning money. Their troubles will end soon while Fayose’s own will keep getting worse.”
When contacted, Obanikoro’s lawyer, Mr. James Onoja (SAN), said he was not aware that his client was with the EFCC but promised to find out.
“I have been in court all day so I was not aware that he (Obanikoro) was with the EFCC. I will find out,” he said.
However, a source told our correspondent that the EFCC could still charge Obanikoro to court if he failed to cooperate with the EFCC.
He said, “Obanikoro has returned N104m and has pledged to return N480m in instalments every four months but if he cannot cooperate with the EFCC, then he and his sons may be charged along with the others.
“Plea bargain and negotiation are a standard practice in criminal justice across the world.”
Obanikoro had told the EFCC in his statement of oath that he received N4.7bn from the Office of the National Security Adviser under the leadership of Col. Sambo Dasuki in June 2014.
In his statement, the ex-minister told the EFCC that he handed N1.3bn to the then governorship candidate of the Peoples Democratic Party in Osun State, Senator Iyiola Omisore; while N1.219bn was given to Fayose through his aide, Agbele, during the build-up to the Ekiti governorship election which Fayose won.
Obanikoro was said to have converted a remainder of the money into $5.377m and handed it to Fayose at Spotless Hotel, Ado Ekiti, in the presence of the then Ekiti State PDP Secretary, Tope Aluko, and other party stalwarts.
The ex-minister is believed to have kept about N785m for himself, an action which is said to have angered Fayose.
Agbele is currently standing trial before Justice Nnamdi Dimgba of a Federal High Court for allegedly receiving N1.219bn on behalf of Fayose.
At the last sitting, Mr. Alade Sunday, a manager and branch Head of Zenith Bank, narrated how the money was disbursed on the instructions of Agbele.
He had also said it took the cashiers about 10 days to count all the money.
Sunday had said Obanikoro flew the cash to Akure Airport and the money was loaded onto a bullion van.
He had said, “When we got to the airport, we waited for some minutes before the aircraft arrived. When the aircraft offloaded its passengers, one of them appeared to me to be Senator Musiliu Obanikoro and the other one appeared to be his ADC, Adewale.
“Agbele walked up to them and had a discussion with them. Thereafter, he signalled to me to bring the van. Bags loaded with cash were loaded into the van and Obanikoro’s ADC, Agbele and I drove back to the bank.
“When we got to the bank, we ‘bundle counted’ the cash and it was N724,500,000. Agbele told us that more money was still coming and then, Obanikoro’s ADC left for the airport immediately.
“In the evening, all of us left for the airport a second time. After the passengers disembarked, we offloaded the cash bags into our bullion van and drove back to the bank to ascertain how much the cash was. The second tranche was N494,990,000, bringing the total to about N1.219, 490,000.
“We headed straight to our zonal head office where instructions were given by Agbele on how the funds were to be credited to various accounts.”