The Economic and Financial Crimes Commission on Tuesday said it had made a breakthrough in how over $15bn was siphoned from the account of the Office of the National Security Adviser during the administration of former President Goodluck Jonathan.
The EFCC, which has frozen the bank accounts of the Ekiti State Governor, Mr. Ayodele Fayose, and the account of a company, belonging to the two sons of a former Minister of State for Defence, Musiliu Obanikoro, said it had recovered evidence of the alleged illegal transactions from the banks.
The bank tellers and other relevant documents, which were made available to The PUNCH, showed that the alleged scam took place between April 4, 2014, and December 15, 2014, when a total of N4.745bn was paid into the Diamond Bank account of Sylvan McNamara.
A document, made available to one of our correspondents showed that Sylvan McNamara was incorporated in November 2011, with the following people as directors: Ikenna Ezekwe, Idowu Oshodi and Elizabeth Adeniyi.
However, the company, on May 7, 2012, passed a resolution that it should open an account at Diamond Bank and have the following persons as signatories – Gbolahan Obanikoro, Babajide Obanikoro, Ikenna Ezekwe and Theresa Matuluko.
Babajide and Gbolahan are the sons of Musiliu Obanikoro, a former minister of State for Defence.
A source at the EFCC said, “The entire fraud started from the company that Obanikoro’s sons were operating. The company was set up by some people but curiously made Obanikoro sons signatories to the account.”
It was learnt that after money was paid into the firm’s account, about N759,384,300 was transferred into the accounts of about six bureau de change operators.
The two bureau de change operators, who received the bulk of the funds, were A. A. G. B.S Oil and Gas and North Line Limited. While A. A. G. B. S received N168m on June 16, 2014, North Line Limited received N835,000 on July 14; N83,750,000 on June 17; N1, 680,000 on September 3, 2014; about N2,325,300 on September 9; N5,932,500 on September 17 and N842,500 on July 30.
A detective at the EFCC added, “The owner of A. A. G. B. S Oil and Gas confirmed to us that the company is a BDC but was only bearing the name of an oil company. He confirmed that he received N168m from Sylvan McNamara and $1m was delivered to Obanikoro in cash while he was the Minister of State for Defence based on the exchange rate at the time.
“Obanikoro acknowledged receipt of the cash and we have recovered evidence. Some of the remaining dollars was received by Obanikoro’s son, Gbolahan.”
The detective at the EFCC further revealed that about N2bn from the money was withdrawn by the Obanikoro sons and then flown to the Akure Airport, Ondo, for onward transfer to Ekiti State.
While presenting the flight document, the detective said, “On June 12, 2014, barely 10 days to the Ekiti State governorship election, Obanikoro and a man, who claimed to be his Aide-de-Camp by the name of A. O. Adewale, chartered a private jet belonging to OAS Helicopters.
“About N724,500,000 was conveyed on the plane with tail number N638MA. The plane was an HS125 jet, operated by Okin Travellers, a subsidiary of Elizade. The plane landed at Akure at 9.38am and then went back to Lagos to get an extra N494,900,000 and landed at Akure at 5.57pm.
“Obanikoro handed the money over to one Abiodun Agbele, otherwise known as Abey, an associate of Fayose. Officials of Zenith Bank arrived at the tarmac in a bullion van to convey all the cash to the bank’s vault, located at 13 Alagbaka Estate, Akure.”
The detective, who presented bank tellers, said Abey gave the bank instructions at different times to pay the money into Fayose’s Zenith Bank account even after the elections.
He added, “Abbey directed the bank to pay N137m into the account of Ayodele Fayose with number 1003126654 and Bank Verification Number 22338867502. The bank teller dated June 26, 2014, was filled by Abbey with teller number 0556814.
“Abbey directed the bank to transfer N118,760,000 to the same account and paid in N50m cash into Fayose’s account.
“On April 7, 2015, several months later, Fayose personally moved N300m to his fixed deposit account at Zenith Bank with number 9013074033 with the same BVN. The account is domiciled at 15 Olusola Abiona Street, Estate, Alapere, Ketu, Lagos.”
The source added that on the instructions of Fayose, Abbey deposited N100m in the account of Spotless Investment Limited, a hotel, which is owned by Fayose and his wife, Olayemi.
Abbey, who was identified as the owner of a firm, De Privateer Limited, paid N100m into the Zenith Bank account of Spotless Investment Limited with number 1010170969 on June 17, 2014.
He also paid N219,490,000 and N300m on June 18, 2014 and June 19, 2014 respectively into his own company account with Zenith Bank marked 1013835889 while he kept a cash of N260m from the original funds.
Meanwhile, the Presidency on Tuesday described the allegation by the Ekiti State Governor, Mr. Ayo Fayose, linking President Muhammadu Buhari’s wife, Aisha, to the United States Congressman William Jefferson’s bribery scandal, as laughable.
Based on the scandal, Jefferson was convicted in 2009.
The Senior Special Assistant to the President on Media and Publicity, Mallam Garba Shehu, in a statement, described the governor as a man “childishly obsessed with the desire to grab the headlines and insulting people at will because of his incurably boorish instincts.”
Shehu said the Presidency chose to respond to Fayose for the sake of innocent Nigerians who might be misled by his “shameless and blatant distortion of facts.”
He said ignoring Fayose carried the risk of giving traction and credibility to outright and brazen falsehood inconsistent with the status of anybody that called himself a governor or leader.
The presidential spokesman said Aisha had no direct, indirect or the remotest connection with William Jefferson’s corruption scandal in the United States.
He challenged Fayose to tell Nigerians if the so-called Aisha, whose pictures he proudly, but ignorantly shared, was the same Aisha married to Buhari, or if the Aisha of his “idle imagination” had any relationship by blood or any relationship in whatever form, with Buhari’s wife.
Shehu also challenged Fayose to produce evidence from the records of investigation and subsequent trial of Jefferson to prove that Buhari’s wife was in anyway linked to that scandal.
He explained that common names alone were not enough to automatically link innocent people to crimes or scandals, especially in an era of identity theft.
He asked Fayose to show proof when and where Aisha Buhari was invited for interrogation in connection with the Jefferson’s bribery scandal, let alone indicted for a crime locally or abroad.
Shehu added that free speech did not entitle Fayose to falsely accuse innocent people of crimes they knew nothing about.
He warned the governor that Aisha Buhari was entitled to protect her reputation from being recklessly maligned, adding that political opposition was not a licence to attack people’s reputation brazenly without legal consequences.
But the Chairman of the Peoples Democratic Party Governors’ Forum and Governor of Ondo State, Dr. Olusegun Mimiko, has urged Buhari to caution the EFCC and urgently intervene to rescue the country from what he described as the “current gross abuse of the constitution.”
Reacting to the reported freezing of Fayose’s account by the EFCC, Mimiko, in a statement in Akure on Tuesday, said the action of the anti-graft agency had portrayed the nation as one in crisis.
The Ondo State governor argued that the EFCC could not “interfere with the account of a sitting governor,” saying such action would run contrary to Section 308 of the Nigerian Constitution.
According to him, if the intention was to suggest any criminal infraction or fraud against the governor, the agency should have sheathed its sword until Fayose vacated office.
“What has happened is a blatant and violent infraction of the provisions of the constitution and our democracy.
“It’s an attempt to subvert the constitution and it is fascist. The intention is to achieve a penal sanction without going through the due criminal procedure and criminal proceedings,” Mimiko added.
He warned that the country was beginning to manifest the signs of totalitarianism, arguing that the account of any individual could only be frozen after an order by a court of competent jurisdiction.