A former Minister of Defence, Senator Musiliu Obanikoro, yesterday paid N100.4million out of about N785million allegedly collected from the Office of National Security Adviser (ONSA) by Sylvan McNamara Limited, a company which was allegedly linked to him.
It is unclear when the ex-Minister will pay the balance, but there are indications that he had entered into a commitment with the EFCC.
But the ex-Minister may regain freedom any moment from now following the partial fulfilment of his undertaking.
His release is subject to the confirmation of the N100.4m in the relevant account.
The refund, however, does not preclude the ex-Minister from trial depending on the weight of evidence and the disposition of the anti-graft agency.
It was learnt that a prima facie case has been established “beyond reasonable doubt” against Obanikoro.
A top source in the EFCC, who spoke in confidence, said: “After many days of foot-dragging, the ex-Minister has paid back N100.4million out of about N785million allegedly collected from the Office of National Security Adviser (ONSA) by Sylvan McNamara Limited, a company which was allegedly linked to him.
“I think we may grant him bail to give him time to look for the balance of the cash. We are trying to verify the government account he paid into and we want to confirm the payment. We may release him any moment from now after the confirmation.
“This, however, does not mean that we are dropping any charges against him. Our objective is first of all to recover the illegal funds. The decision on his trial will depend on the review of his case and the extent to which he is liable.
“You know the ex-Minister has admitted flying over N1.299billion to Akure in two shuttles for Governor Ayodele Fayose. The cash was collected by Fayose’s associate, Abiodun Agbele, who is currently on trial.
“Obanikoro also confessed that he personally gave $5.377m (N60m then) cash to Fayose. He admitted on oath that he was used to siphon public funds meant for arms purchase. These are all criminal offences which are punishable by the nation’s laws.
“The testimonies of Obanikoro will hasten his trial and ongoing prosecution of all the suspects implicated in the arms cash.”
On Governor Fayose, the source added: “The governor is just grandstanding because of the immunity he enjoys. He personally admitted collecting money from Zenith Bank as a campaign gift. His associate, Agbele, reeled out how houses were bought from the N1.299billion brought by Obanikoro. And the ex-Minister has finally nailed him with his statement on oath.
“Fayose has a date with the court. It is just a matter of time. In two years, he will be in the dock to account for the contracts he executed in the ONSA to have earned such slush funds.”
The EFCC had discovered that Sylvan Mcnamara Limited, allegedly owned by Obanikoro and his sons, was used to launder the N4.745billion.
Obanikoro told crack detectives of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) that N3.880billion was allocated to Governor Ayodele Fayose and Senator Iyiola Omisore out of the said cash.
He also said he handed over $5.377m (N60m then) cash to Fayose at Spotless Hotel, Ado-Ekiti in the presence of the former Secretary of the Peoples Democratic Party in the state, Dr. Tope Aluko, and other party stalwarts.
He said the balance of N785million was expended on alleged anti-Boko Haram campaign in Lagos and the South-West by Sylvan Mcnamara.
The company, which was incorporated in November 2011 had the following as its directors: a close 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.
But Ikenna Ezekwe has had his accounts de-frozen by the EFCC since the slush funds were not traced to him.
Ezekwe has also been removed as the director of the slush company.
A document said: “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 the 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 the ONSA as war chest for Ekiti governorship poll, ex-Minister Obanikoro made the account of Sylvan Mcnamara Limited available and coordinated the disbursement.