The embattled Governor of Ekiti who has been under the radar of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) over allegations of laundering N1.21 billion from the office of National Security Adviser for prosecuting his election in 2014 has become a weekly phenomenon as fresh twists and turns keep emerging over his investigation by the EFCC.
Recent development on the ongoing investigation has seen operatives of the anti-graft agency quiz Captain Ahmed Borodo, the pilot whose plane was allegedly chartered by a former Minister of State for Defence, Senator Musiliu Obanikoro, to transport N1.219bn to Governor Ayodele Fayose, and a bullion van driver, Mr. Olaoluwa Omotoso, who was reported to have driven the bullion van to the Akure airport tarmac on June 17, 2014, to transport the N1.219bn allegedly flown from Lagos by Obanikoro.
Properties said to belong to the Governor were also seized by EFCC in Lagos and Abuja, and Zenith bank officials have denied the claims by Fayose that his election was funded by the bank.
The N1.219bn is believed to be part of the N4.7bn allegedly diverted from the Office of the National Security Adviser to the bank account of Sylvan McNamara, a company owned by Senator Musiliu Obanikoro, and his sons. Which has made the anti-graft agency declare the former minister wanted.
The pilot was reported to have said that about eight big green tarpaulin or military bags were loaded onto the plane by Obanikoro’s men and even complained of overweight.
According to The Nation, Borodo was quoted as saying, ”On the 17th June 2014, I was advised around 0700 hours by my Flight Operations Department that we would be operating a chartered flight to Akure from Lagos with estimated departure time of 0830 hours.
“The client was Musiliu Obanikoro, Minister of State for Defence at that time.
“I arrived at the airport at about 0730 hours to prepare for the flight along with my colleague, Captain Olubiyi Famuyiwa and cabin attendant Uyi Okoro. Minutes later, the minister’s aides came to the aircraft with some bullion vans. They started offloading the contents, which were big green tarpaulin bags. Military bags precisely.
“The ADC to the minister was dressed in Navy uniform. This is all I can state now.
“When we noticed that only about three people could carry the bags because of the weight, we told them that because of the weight, we could only take about eight to nine bags.
“The minister who had disembarked at that time from his vehicle pleaded with us but we said our aircraft was too small to carry all the bags. We loaded the bags. The minister, his ADC and a friend boarded the aircraft and we departed to Akure , Ondo State.
“When we arrived at Akure Airport, some soldiers came and there was a bullion van as well to carry the baggage. We departed empty to Lagos on the 17/06/14.
“On the 18th of June 2014, we were sent from Abuja to Akure to pick Mr. Musiliu Obanikoro and take him to Abuja. He boarded without any luggage with his ADC and we proceeded to Abuja to drop him.”
According to the investigation, Abiodun Agbele, who is currently in the EFCC custody, was among those who received Obanikoro.
The General Manager of the airline, Mr. Jide West said Obanikoro paid $25,200 for the flight.
Bullion van driver, Mr. Olaoluwa Omotoso involvement
An EFCC detective told Punch that Omotoso was reported to have told the EFCC that he made two separate trips because of the volume of the money, part which was taken to a bank in Alagbaka, Akure, on the instruction of Fayose’s friend, Agbele, while the remaining money was taken to Spotless Hotel, Ado Ekiti, which is owned by Fayose and his wife, Feyisetan.
He said, “Omotoso explained that on June 17, 2014, he was given a directive to go to the Akure airport to convey some funds. He said he went to the airport twice to move the money. He said some of the money was taken to a bank while he, along with Agbele, moved the remaining cash to Spotless Hotel, Ado Ekiti.
“He said the money was moved in three vehicles, including one bullion van and two Toyota Hilux vans. The two Toyota Hilux vans had some soldiers inside for security while Agbele was with him in the Hilux van.
“He said he did not know exactly how much was conveyed. He explained that Agbele held the keys to the vault in the bullion van. On getting to Spotless Hotel at night, they offloaded the cash and Agbele entered the vehicle to search and ensure that no money was left behind. Agbele then returned the keys and Omotoso drove off.”
With the immunity clause restraining EFCC from prosecuting the Governor, the anti-graft agency have seized houses belonging to Fayose that were allegedly purchased with stolen funds. The properties seized in Lagos were four duplexes located at Plot 100 Tiamiyu Savage Street, Victoria Island worth $1.3m as each cost N364m while the two properties seized in Abuja, which are uncompleted buildings, were said to be worth over N470m.
Meanwhile, the Governor has continued in his unrepentant criticism of President Muhammadu Buhari as he accused the president through is spokesperson Lere Olayinka of shielding his men from arms procurement probe .
The men, according to the statement, are Minister of Interior, Major General (Lt. Gen.) Abdulrahman Dambazau (retd.), who was Chief of Army Staff between 2008 and 2010 and current Chief Of Army Staff, Major General Tukur Buratai, who served as Director of Procurement, Defence Headquarters, from 2012 till May, 2015.
- Olalekan Olonilua for encomium.ng