By Dipo Olowookere
Reports have it that former Minister of State for Defence, Mr Musiliu Obanikoro, has refunded about N100.4 million out of the N785 million a company linked to him, Sylvan McNamara, allegedly received from the former National Security Adviser (NSA), Mr Sambo Dasuki.
It was further reported that following this latest move, the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC), which has held him since October 19, 2016, may release him anytime soon.
“After many days of foot-dragging, the ex-Minister has paid back N100.4 million out of about N785 million 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 N1.299 billion 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,” the Nation quoted a source to have said.
It was reported that Mr Obanikoro, in his statement to the EFCC, had alleged that N3.880 billion out of the N4.75 billion he collected from Dasuki was handed to Ekiti state governor, Mr Ayo Fayose, to rig the state governorship election in June 2014 in favour of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP).
Mr Obanikoro also alleged that he handed over $5.377m (N60m then) cash to Fayose at Spotless Hotel, Ado-Ekiti in the presence of the former Secretary of the PDP in the state, Dr Tope Aluko, and other party stalwarts.
Mr Fayose has since dismissed this allegation, accusing the Federal government of wanting to rope him into the case by all means possible since he is always very critical of the Buhari-led administration.
Commenting on Mr Fayose’s denial, according to the Nation, the EFCC source said “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.”
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