Former Minister of State for Defence Misiliu Obanikoro, on Wednesday, informed a Federal High Court, sitting in Ikoyi, Lagos, how he was cleared of any financial crime, after being detained for 21 days by the Economic Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC).
Obanikoro who narrated his experience with the EFCC, made the above assertion, while giving evidence in the trial of the former Ekiti State governor, Mr. Ayodele Fayose, who is being tried on alleged N4.6 billion fraud.
He said: “I was invited by EFCC in 2016 and I came in from United States of America, but was incarcerated twenty-one days (21), even when there is a presume of innocence in law when allegation like this arise.
“Yes, a letter of complaint was written from the office of the National Security Adviser (NSA) but I believe that it was written out of ignorance because after all the investigation common sense prevail and I was exonerated.”
Obanikoro in his evidence on how the sum of N2.2bn was budgeted for the 2014, Ekiti State governorship election Mr Ayodele Fayose from the office of NSA.
The former Minister said that the funds came from the National Security Adviser’s impress account to Silver Maclamaran Nigeria Limited. The company under his control.
Led in evidence by the prosecutor, Mr. Rotimi Jacobs (SAN) the witness stated that despite his efforts on security issues while saddle with pedestrian operation to flush Boko Haram threat in Lagos.
The witness however under cross-examination by Olalekan Ojo (SAN) distance himself from the operation of Silver Maclamaran Nigeria Limited, the company account that was used to warehoused the sum of N2.2bn from NSA’s impress account.
When asked what he knows about a Committee for fund raising towards the 2014 Ekiti State governorship election.
Obanikoro said: “yes, I was the chairman of the Committee and a lot of funds were contributed even up to the national level of our party.”
When also asked by Ojo (SAN) if he can remember the name of any member of the funds raising committee, he said “yes I can remember T. k Aluko and Lateef Agbaje.”
When also asked if he was a signatory to Silver Maclamaran Nigeria Limited that received the funds from the office of NSA which said no.
When asked who were the signatory to company account, the witness answered and said Olalekan Olalere, “I put it to you that you are the owner of Silver Maclamaran Nigeria Limited”. The witness answered in affirmative.
The presiding judge, Justice Aneke has adjourned further trial to March 20 and 21, 2023
According to the charge against Fayose, on June 17, 2014, he and Abiodun Agbele illegally took possession of N1.2 billion for purposes of funding his gubernatorial election campaign in Ekiti.
Fayose also allegedly received a cash payment of five million dollars (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 alleges that the former governor reasonably ought to know that the money was part of crime proceeds.
It also alleges that the defendants procured De Privateer Ltd. and Still Earth Ltd. to illegally retain N851 million.
It claims that Fayose used about N1.6 billion crime proceeds to acquire property in Lagos and Abuja.
The commission also charged Fayose with using N200 million crime proceeds to acquire a property in Abuja in the name of his elder sister, Moji Oladeji.
The alleged offences contravene Sections 15(1), 15 (2), 15 (3), 16(2)(b), 16 (d), and 18 (c) of the Money Laundering Prohibition Act of 2011.