Former Minister of Defence (State) Musiliu Obanikoro’s head of security has told the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) how his principal moved funds to Ekiti State for the June 21, 2014 governorship election.
Lt. Commander A. O. Adewale gave a blow-by-blow account of the cash movement when he was grilled by some EFCC operatives.
The EFCC is investigating the N1.299billion cash taken to Governor Ayodele Fayose by Obanikoro in chartered flight before the election.
The cash was part of the N4.745 billion paid into Obanikoro’s company, Sylva Mcnamara by the Office of the National Security Adviser (NSA).
Fayose’s associate, Abiodun Agbele, who received the cash from Obanikoro, is in EFCC custody awaiting arraignment in court. A court last week declared his dention illegal and ordered the EFCC to pay him N5million as damages.
Some of those already quizzed by the EFCC over the cash movement are the General Manager of Gyro Air Limited, Jide West, a pilot Captain Ahmed Bashir Borodo, a bullion van driver, Omotoso Olaoluwa and some bank officials, among others.
Lt. Commander Adewale told investigators how they started the Ekiti trip from Obanikoro’s Park View, Ikoyi, Lagos home on June 16, 2014.
He said: “I was posted as the Flag Lieutenant to the Hon. Minister of State for Defence from March 2014 to September 2014. Thereafter I proceeded to Defence Intelligence School for my basic French Language course from December 14 to June 2015.
”As at when I was the Flag Lieutenant to the Minister of State for Defence, my schedule of duties was being in charge of Very Important Personalities (VIP) protection, organisation and administration of the escorts and also coordination of convoys for movement, organisation and administration of the escorts’ means.
“I am responsible to all the security aides attached to the minister. Security aides include the personnel from the Army, Navy and Air Force. I detail them on VIP protection.
“During my tour of duty as the Flag. Lieutenant to the Minister of State for Defence, I was reporting to the Principal Staff Office, (PSO), Navy Capt. O.O. Fadeyi. During my period as the Flag Lieutenant to the Hon. Minister of State Defence, the then minister was Senator Musiliu Obanikoro.
”On assumption of duty as the Flag Lieutenant, I embarked on several trips with the Minister to several military and civil parastatals, some of which included several visits to Lagos, the Nigerian Defence Academy (NDA), Military Pension Board, Air Force Base in Enugu, also visits to Ekiti State, Port Harcout, Bayelsa and the commissioning of the Nigeria Navy Ship (NNS) Okpabana in the United States.
“ During my tour of duty, I visited Ekiti twice with the minister. The first was the presidential rally held in Ekiti and the second trip was sometimes in June 2014.
“The movement to Ekiti was by air through a chartered aircraft. It is not part of my duties to initiate movement for the minister. Every time, the minister informed me verbally of our intended movement, I complied.”
Adewale, who gave insights into how the trip was arranged, said he prepared the manifest of passengers on board the chartered flight.
He added: “A Gyro Air Limited passenger manifest dated June 16, 2014 with the departure DN MM with route DN AKR and the following passenger details, (1) the Minister of State for Defence, Senator Musiliu Obanikoro (2) Dr. Tunde Oshinowo and Lt. Commander A.O. Adewale was shown to me.
“I recognised the manifest via my handwriting and my name is also on the manifest. The flight was organised by the minister and I was given the contact of Mr. Jide West (the General Manager of Gyro Air) to liaise with.
“ On June 16, 2014, we left the house of the former minister at Park View, Lagos to the airport. It is pertinent to state that I did not arrange or pay for the chartered flight to Ekiti. I was given the number of Mr. Jide West by the minister for liaison of timing of takeoff.
”We got to the airport in the morning of June 16, 2014. On arrival via road from Park View at the airport, the minister’s son, Mr. Gbolahan was at the airport.
”A private discussion held between father and son. The minister then informed me of the delay in the movement to Akure. About an hour later, a bullion van pulled into the hangar where the chartered aircraft was parked. Shortly after, Mr. Gbolahan ensured that some bags were offloaded into the plane.
“As at when the bullion van pulled into the airport, I was at the waiting lounge close to where the plane was parked. Shortly after, I boarded the plane with the minister and his civilian friend in person of Mr. Oshinowo as indicated on the manifest.
”On arrival at the airport, the minister had private discussions with some of his political friends who received him at the airport in Akure. I was not privy to the discussions.
“However, a bullion van was driven down to the tarmac where the plane was parked. The bags were offloaded into the bullion van and the minister directed that we should escort the van to a particular Zenith Bank branch in Akure. I can recall the exact branch.
“On arrival at the bank, the bags were offloaded by the bank staff under the supervision of a particular civilian who was in company of the minister at the Akure airport. I don’t know the man personally but with facial recognition, I can identify the man.
“ After offloading the bags and the civilian took custody, the escorts thereafter proceeded to meet the minister.”