Musiliu Obanikoro, a former Minister of State for Defence, has admitted before a Federal High Court sitting in Lagos that he was been investigated by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) for being privy to illicit transfer of funds.
Obanikoro made the statement on Tuesday while giving evidence in the criminal trial of Ayodele Fayose, the immediate past Governor of Ekiti State.
Fayose was arraigned by EFCC on October 22, 2018, alongside a company, Spotless Investment Limited, on an 11-count charge bordering on fraud.
He had pleaded not guilty to the charges, and the court had granted him bail in the sum of N50million with one surety in like sum.
Trial had commenced on November 19, 2018, with the EFCC calling four witnesses, while the court had then adjourned for continuation of trial.
At the resumed hearing on the matter on Tuesday, Rotimi Jacobs (SAN) appeared for the EFCC, while Messrs Ola Olanipekun (SAN) and Olalekan Ojo (SAN) represented the first and second defendants, respectively.
Obanikoro, the fifth prosecution witness who began giving his evidence on January 21, and was cross-examined on February 4, mounted the witness box in continuation of his cross-examination.
During cross-examination by Ojo, Obanikoro told the court that during his tenure as Commissioner in Lagos in charge of Home Affairs and Culture, he had interfaced with various security agencies in the discharge of his duties.
According to him, he had sourced for a security outfit known as Silva Mcnamara, owned by one Kareem Taiwo, to the office of the National Security Adviser (NSA), when the need arose to provide for security operations in Lagos State.
He said the outfit performed credibly.
Ojo then asked the witness: “You said Kareem Taiwo did a good job,” to which Obanikoro replied: “Yes”.
“Then are you not surprised that a petition was still written by the NSA against both of you, for having gotten money from the NSA illicitly,” to which Obanikoro replied in the affirmative, adding that “And I state that I deserve a medal of honour for the great work I did in securing Lagos State.”
Ojo next statement was: “I’m sure you are aware of the offences you were alleged to have committed for which you were granted bail by the EFCC.” Obanikoro replied: “Yes”.
The defence counsel then asked the witness to tell the court the offence, to which Obanikoro replied: “It was based on a petition sent by the NSA that about N4.6billion or thereabouts was sent in an account operated by me.”
Defence: Will I be right to say that the allegations consisted of fraud?
Witness: Until I see it.
Defence: Are you still on administrative bail?
Witness: Well, I have not been discharged to the best of my knowledge.
Defence: It was also alleged that there were no approvals for the funds alleged to have been transferred to a number of companies listed in exhibit I, including Silva Mcnamara.
Defence: So, I suggest to you that at all material time, you were being investigated to have been privy to illicit transfer of funds.
Defence: Till today, the allegation of illicit transfer of funds has not being withdrawn against you by the EFCC.
Witness: To the best of my knowledge, you are correct.
Defence: Did you produce any document to show the relationship between Kareem and the office of the NSA, contrary to allegations that the NSA does not know him?
The witness replied ‘No’, and added that the office of the NSA had responsibility for coordination of security across the nation, some of which are clandestine and not documented.
On who gave instructions to Diamond Bank for the release of N1.2billion, Obanikoro replied that he did.
Defence: Can you tell the court by what means you gave the instruction and to whom?
Witness: Verbally, to the then MD of Diamond Bank, Mr Oti?
Defence: Was there any time your verbal instruction was reduced into writing?
Defence: So, I suggest to you that what you are telling this Court is that there is no written record for the release of N1.2billion by the bank.
Witness: Because of the nature of the job.
Defence: Look at Exhibit E9-E11 and mention the names of the Directors of Silva Mcnamara.
Witness: Ezekwe Ikenna, Oshodi Idowu, and Adebiyi Elizabeth.
Defence: Who owns House 9, Layi Bembem Park view Ikoyi?
Witness: That’s my house.
Defence: I suggest to you that Ikenna Ezekwe lived in that house at one time or the other.
Subsequently, Ojo sought to tender an extrajudicial statement made by Justin Erukaa, the then SA to Obanikoro, and the prosecutor raised objection.
Following the objection by prosecution, Justice Mojisola Olatoregun adjourned the case until 9am on February 6, 2019, for counsel to address the court on the admissibility of an extrajudicial statement.