A former Minister of State for Defence on Monday testified that he was directed to pay money from public funds to a former governor of Ekiti State, Ayo Fayose.
Musiliu Obanikoro, a former minister of state for defence, gave evidence on Monday before Mojisola Olatoregun, a judge of the Federal High Court in Lagos during the trial of Mr Fayose.
Mr Obanikoro said he was directed to pay money to Mr Fayose from national security funds.
He said this while being led in evidence by the prosecuting counsel, Rotimi Jacobs, who is prosecuting the case on behalf of the anti-graft agency, EFCC.
Mr Fayose and his company, Spotless, are being prosecuted for alleged illegal diversion of funds of about N6.9 billion.
Mr Obanikoro told the court that, “on a Monday in June, 2014 I received a call from Mr Peter Ayodele Fayose, when we were approaching the gubernatorial election in Ekiti State, wanting to know if there is any message from National Security Adviser Col Sambo Dasuki but I replied no.
“But shortly after his call, a message came in from NSA saying certain amount of money will be received into the account that was opened to manage Boko Haram threat under my watch as minister of state for defence. NSA told me that Fayose will call me as to how he will receive the money.”
“A total equivalent of $5 million from National Security Adviser impress account was given to Fayose by the order of NSA.”
He also said that Mr Fayose introduced one “Biodun Agbele to me that he would be the one to receive the money for him which was done in Akure Airport because it was physical cash.”
“I had earlier wanted to transfer the dollars so that the Naira equivalent can be withdrawn in Ado Ekiti, which was the reason why I initially called Diamond Bank M.D but he replied that the bank does not have such capacity in Ado Ekiti for that huge amount of money.”
The former minister also told the court that due to the inability of the bank to pay the equivalent of the money in naira, he had to give physical cash of N200 million to Mr Fayose on June 5, 2014, from the National Security Adviser’s imprest account. He said another N2 billion was paid to Mr Fayose on the 16th of June 2014 from the same account.
He further informed the court that his late aide was in the meeting where Mr Fayose acknowledged the receipt of a total naira equivalent of $5m at Spotless hotel in Ado Ekiti, owned by Mr Fayose.
The counsel to Mr Fayose, Kanu Agabi, a senior advocate, applied for an adjournment to enable him to cross-examine Mr Obanikoro. He said the witness had said a lot in court and he would need time to look through his statements before cross-examining the witness.
The counsel to the 2nd defendant, Olalekan Ojo, a senior advocate, also urged the judge to adjourn the case to enable him to confer with his client on the evidence of the witness.
The judge, Mojisola Olatoregun, subsequently adjourned the case to February 4,5 and 6, 2019.
The EFCC is accusing the former governor and his company, Spotless, of receiving various funds from the office of former NSA, Dasuki Sambo. The monies are believed to have been meant for security tasks including funding the war against Boko Haram.
Part of the charge reads that “on June 17, 2014, 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, which sum they reasonably ought to have known formed part of crime proceeds.”
The former governor was also alleged to have received a cash payment of $5 million (about N1.8 billion) from Mr Obanikoro, without going through any financial institution.
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.
Obanikoro and Fayose were allies and members of the opposition PDP during the period of the transaction. The former minister has, however, since joined Nigeria’s ruling party, APC, and is now a prosecution witness.