As the EFCC officials continue their investigations into Obanikoro’s activities while in office, as well as those of his two sons, the former minister has spoken out on how the anti-graft agency burgled his houses in Lagos.
It was widely reported online and on social media few days ago that operatives of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) stormed the Lagos houses of former Minister of State for Defence, Musiliu Olatunde Obanikoro and carted away cars and other valuables.
In an exclusive interview with Premium Times, the Lagos-born Nigerian politician and one-term senator has opened up on his own side of the story from his abode in the United States, as Nigeria’s anti-graft officials continue their investigations into his activities while in office, as well as those of his two sons, Jide and Gbolahan.
Below are excerpts from the chat;
You dared the government to seek your extradition in a statement you released a day after your property was raided in Lagos, did you do that because you’re in America or because you’re confident of your innocence?
You know why I am laughing? Because they have trivialised government by all those senseless propaganda that they’re perpetrating all over the place. These people you’re talking about, they know they don’t have anything that will withstand judicial scrutiny.
They will never attempt any extradition. I, Musiliu Olatunde Obanikoro, am inviting EFCC to petition America to extradite me to Nigeria. The whole world would now see their charade for what it is. It is even good for everyone to know the truth, including those who are sympathisers to the All Progressives Congress.
Because, in Nigeria, you’re either on this side or the other side. But this American system is unbiased. They’re neither for me nor for them. So, let them bring the tissue of lies that they have put together and submit everything to serious judicial scrutiny and let us see whether it will fly. I am inviting them to do that.
Let them tell us how APC elections were funded if it was not government funds that they used. So why are you persecuting people that lost election and maturely and showing respect for peace and tranquility of Nigeria submitted themselves to the rule of law and accepted the verdict of the people and you’re now turning around to witchhunt them?
Maybe they’re trying to tell Nigerians in advance that if they lose elections they will not let go. And I have two good examples to show that if the APC loses election they will never hand over, they would rather destroy the system than hand over government to the winner. My son was a victim in Lagos. We won elections and they refused to hand over without blinking an eye. The councillorship election of my son and chairmanship elections were won by the PDP and they took everything away from them—just like that.
But, as the saying goes, the law is like a sieve, so it can’t catch all offenders. Similarly, if you’ve done anything to breach public trust as a minister, shouldn’t you be made to pay for your actions in order to deter others from committing similar offence?
Mr brother, don’t let us be naive. There are petitions against [Minister of Transport, Rotimi] Amaechi and there are petitions against [Minister of Power, Works and Housing, Tunde] Fashola with the EFCC. They have decided not to touch them because they are in government and they are in APC. We are all Nigerians, are you telling me all APC members are clean? And I am telling you authoritatively as someone who had worked extensively in security institutions in Nigeria that government funds at the state level were used to help APC win elections.
You see, it is unfortunate that these people will use propaganda to destroy people unjustly. And, in this month of Ramadan, God will visit them in his own way.
All this time they were talking about, my son, Jide, was out of Nigeria. We have evidence to show that he was not even in the country. We have evidence. That is why I am telling them to bring the matter to a neutral ground where they will subject it to proper judicial scrutiny. I am inviting them, I am begging them in the name of God. Jide was not even near Nigeria throughout the period in question. He was here in America when the whole funds they’re talking about were released. My other son, Gbolahan, didn’t have access to that kind of money. Did he work for government? How could he have that kind of funds?
What did operatives make away with when they raided your property and that of your son? Has your family enumerated the items to you?
That is no longer relevance as far as I am concerned. I have asked my lawyers to challenge all their activities in the court. I am a law abiding citizen, but I will not allow anybody–no matter how highly placed–to humiliate me, to rubbish me. I have been in public office for more than 20 years and I have never been found wanting. For them to call me a thief, it means a lot to me, even if it doesn’t mean anything to them.
Every of my properties can be explained. These were things acquired not when I was in government.
Including the exquisite vehicles and other valuables said to have been wheeled away from your home?
Up till now, they have not given us any court order to the effect of everything they’ve done. As I speak to you, they have not. Our lawyer was there today for over four hours and they didn’t give him anything.
Nigeria is in trouble. If people of goodwill don’t stand up and ask these people to follow due process–all I am saying is: follow due process. Nobody, should be above the law, including the institutions that are saddled with the responsibility of law enforcement.
If all of us submit ourselves to the rule of law, that is when we will have orderliness. We will not have orderliness when people trample on the individual rights with impunity and knowing that nothing will happen to them. I want all Nigerians to be patient and let us bring this fight against corruption to the international arena and see how it would play out.
So you’re going to remain in exile rather than submit yourself to Nigerian authorities?
I did not say that. I cannot say that. Nigeria is my country, a country that I love dearly. What I am saying is that, once EFCC is made to conform with due process, rule of law, fairness, equity I am prepared to submit myself and come home.