The head of former Minister of State for Defence, Senator Musiliu Obanikoro’s security, Lieutenant Commander A.O Adewale, has told the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) how his principal moved funds to Ekiti State for the June 21, 2014 governorship election.
The commission grilled the Navy Officer over two weeks ago about the movement of N1.299billion cash in chartered flight before the Ekiti guber polls.
The cash was part of the N4.745 billion paid into Obanikoro’s company, Sylva Mcnamara by the Office of the former National Security Adviser (NSA) under Col. Sambo Dasuki (retd.).
Governor Ayodele Fayose’s associate, Abiodun Agbele, who received the cash from Obanikoro on behalf of the governor, is in EFCC custody awaiting arraignment in court.
An Abuja High Court last week declared Agbele’s detention illegal and ordered the anti-graft agency 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.
While Captain Borodo acknowledged transporting the cash wrapped in “green military tarpaulin bags” that were so heavy, it took three people to lift one bag at a time in to a chartered aircraft belonging to Gyro Air with tail number HS125-800 5N-BMT, Mr. Olaoluwa, who said he could not tell how much was contained in the bags, also confirmed that he conveyed part of the cash in a bullion van to a bank in Alagbaka, Akure on the instructions of Mr. Agbele while the remaining was transported to Spotless Hotel in Ado-Ekiti, owned by Mr. Fayose and his wife, Feyisetan.
Giving a detailed account of the cash movement in a statement he made to investigators at the EFCC, Adewale narrated 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 Harcourt, 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”.
The ex-ADC to Mr. Obanikoro, 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”.