An aide to Senator Obanikoro, Mr. Jonathan Eze, in a statement last night said the former minister had been detained by the anti-graft agency.
The statement said: “Senator Musiliu Obanikoro, the immediate past minister of defence and foreign affairs arrived in Abuja this morning (yesterday) and headed straight for the office of the EFCC.
“This is consequent upon an invitation sent to him by the anti-graft body, which was received on June 15, 2016, coincidentally at a time and period he was pursuing academic postgraduate degree in the United States.
“As at now, interrogations have ended and it will continue tomorrow. However, the minister shall remain with the operatives for further questioning tomorrow. (today).
“The officials were impressed with his decision to honour their invitation and so far, there has been mutual cooperation and understanding between the agency and my principal.
“We wish to use this medium to commend the EFCC for the mature way they went about the interrogations. They were truly professional.
“Senator Obanikoro has served this country at every level from local government chairman till his appointments as minister twice and he is proud of his contributions so far. He is not a fugitive as has been erroneously painted in the media and his returning to the country on his own volition is a further testimony to this.”
Former Minister of State for Defence Musiliu Obanikoro yesterday surrendered to the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission(EFCC), which is probing his role in the alleged disbursement of N4.745billion for the Ekiti State 2014 governorship election. The cash is believed to have come from the Office of the National Security Adviser (ONSA).
The anti-graft commission began the grilling of the ex-Minister at about 2pm.
The EFCC, said a source, was making efforts to secure a court order to keep Obanikoro in detention for the duration of his interrogation.
Also sighted at the EFCC yesterday was a former Ekiti State Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) Dr. Tope Aluko, who was a witness to how about N1.299billion was flown to the state to influence the governorship poll in 2014.
It was learnt that Aluko may be a star witness against Obanikoro, Governor Ayodele Fayose and Fayose’s associate, Abiodun Agbele (Alias Abbey).
Obanikoro arrived in Abuja at about 10am, but the EFCC team did not start attending to him until about 2pm.
Clad in a white kaftan, Obanikoro, who looked trim, was seen at the EFCC’s office at about 1.40pm in company of the Deputy National Chairman of the Sheriff faction of the Peoples Democratic Party(PDP), Dr. Cairo Ojougboh and five others.
He was smiling and shaking hands with people, including reporters.
The presence of Aluko pointed to a likely encounter with Obanikoro in the interrogation room.
A source in EFCC, who spoke in confidence, said: “While were are preparing to declare him wanted, the ex-minister surrendered to the EFCC for interrogation in respect of the probe of alleged N4.745billion fraud.
“Obviously, Obanikoro is the long-awaited suspect and we believe his coming will assist us in the investigation of how the money was sourced from the $2.1billion meant for arms from the Office of the National Security (ONSA).
“We have grilled him for more than three hours but this may take some days. It is about 90 per cent certain that we are not likely to release him.
“We need to interact also with his sons and daughter, based on the evidence at our disposal.”
Earlier, in a WhatsApp message, Obanikoro said: “I am in Abuja, just wanted to be the one to tell you.”
The EFCC had discovered that Sylvan Mcnamara Limited, a company believed to be owned by Obanikoro and his sons, was used to launder the N4.745billion.
The company, which was incorporated in November 2011, has as its directors an aide of the ex-minister, Ikenna Ezekwe (700,000 shares) of 51 Simpson Street, Ebute-Metta; Idowu Oshodi (299,000 shares) of 8 Prince Tayo Adesanya Street, Park View Estate, Ikoyi; and Elizabeth Adebiyi (1,000 shares) of 3 Adedoyin Street, Ijeshatedo, Surulere.
Ezekwe’s accounts have been de-frozen by the EFCC since the slush funds were not traced to him.
A document on the investigation states: “To set the stage for the use of the company for money laundering, the board of directors on May 7, 2012 passed a resolution that the company should open an account and appointed Mr. Gbolahan Obanikoro, Ikenna Ezekwe, Ms. Theresa Matuluko (Secretary) and Mr. Babajide Obanikoro as signatories to the account.
“The board added that the signing combination be that any of the signatories can sign alone.”
According to the EFCC, when it was time to illegally draw the N4.745billion from ONSA as war chest for Ekiti Governorship poll, ex-Minister Obanikoro made the account of Sylvan Mcnamara Limited available and coordinated the disbursement.”
The breakdown of the disbursement is as follows: N759, 384, 300 changed into dollars through bureau de change firms; N160million spent on cars through Balmoral International Limited; N1, 219, 490,000 ferried by Obanikoro in two flights to Akure for Fayose’s associate, Abiodun; balance of about N2billion allegedly withdrawn by Obanikoro and his two children in cash.
Some of the bureaux de change involved in the transactions and the amounts credited to them are: A.A.G.B.S Oil and Gas (N168,000,000.00); Sylvan Mcnamara Ltd (N167,500,000.00); Northline Ltd (N835,000.00); Northline Ltd (N83,750,000.00); Five Star Ltd N(37,600,000.00); A.B.A Trading Ent (N268,301,500.00); Villagolf Bureau De Change (N1,425,000.00); Ahmad &Omar (N350,000.000); Northline Ltd (N1,680,000.00); Northline Limited A (N2,325,300); Rehoboth Homes (20,000,0000); Northline Ltd (N5,932,500.00); Northline Ltd (N842,500); Northline Ltd (N842,500.00).
The EFCC probe showed how N1.299 billion was flown to Akure Airport on June 12, 2014, to Fayose through Agbele.
A report on the investigation reads: “On June 12, 2014, N1.299 billion was flown from Lagos to Akure Airport by Musiliu Obanikoro through a chartered plane with Registration No: HS125-800 5N-BMT belonging to Gyro Air Limited.
“The N1.299 billion was in two consignments but flown in the same aircraft twice in the morning and in the evening. “From FAAN records, the first cash of N724, 500,000 arrived at Akure Airport at an estimated time of 9.38am and the second was at 17.57hours.
“A bullion van was brought to the tarmac at the airport in Akure to evacuate the cash to Plot 13 Alagbaka Estate, Akure.
“Obanikoro handed over the funds to Fayose’s associate, Abiodun Agbele (alias Abbey).”