Former Minister of State for Defence, Senator Musiliu Obanikoro, appeared before a Federal High Court in Abuja on Wednesday, revealing details of how N1.219 billion in cash was airlifted to support the election of former Ekiti State governor, Ayodele Fayose.
Obanikoro, testifying under the counsel for the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC), Wahab Shittu (SAN), explained that logistical challenges with the defunct Diamond Bank’s handling of a substantial sum led to the decision to airlift the money.
The funds, according to Obanikoro, originated from the former National Security Adviser (NSA), Col Sambo Dasuki (retd.). He clarified that Dasuki was the source of the money, and only the former NSA could provide further details.
During his testimony, Obanikoro recounted, “I was a minister under Jonathan’s administration in 2014. Sometime in 2014, we were going to have an election in Ekiti State. I was saddled with the responsibility of coordinating the activities in the election.”
He mentioned receiving a call from Governor Fayose, who inquired about a message from the Office of the National Security Adviser (ONSA). Earlier fundraising activities for the election had taken place.
Obanikoro continued, “The money came from the NSA. Only the NSA can explain the source of the fund. The bank lacked the capacity to handle the situation. It was a last-minute decision to ferry the money to Ekiti. I handed over the cash to Agbele for onward delivery to Fayose.”
Denying allegations of taking any money for personal gain, Obanikoro stated, “I did not take any money or N19 million, contrary to the publication by a Lagos-based online platform.”
Addressing his connection with Sylvan Mcnamara Limited, Obanikoro clarified that the account was initially opened to address terrorism concerns in Lagos but was later used for election fund disbursement.
“The account was created to deal with the issue of Boko Haram in Lagos. The account was used for the purpose of disbursing funds for the election,” he explained.
Regarding the logistics of moving the funds, Obanikoro said, “I put a call through to let Fayose know that the money had been paid. Diamond Bank had said it did not have the capacity to make the funds available, so we opted to airlift the fund. The funds were airlifted from Lagos in two tranches, the volume was much.”
The presiding judge, Justice Nnamdi Dimgba, adjourned the case until February 27, 2024, following Obanikoro’s testimony.