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N4.7b Arms Cash Scandal: EFCC Detains Obanikoro

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Musiliu Obanikoro
  • N4.7b Arms Cash Scandal: EFCC Detains Obanikoro

An aide to Senator Obanikoro, Mr. Jonathan Eze, in a statement last night said the former minister had been detained by the anti-graft agency.

The statement said: “Senator Musiliu Obanikoro, the immediate past minister of defence and foreign affairs arrived in Abuja this morning (yesterday) and headed straight for the office of the EFCC.

“This is consequent upon an invitation sent to him by the anti-graft body, which was received on June 15, 2016, coincidentally at a time and period he was pursuing academic postgraduate degree in the United States.

“As at now, interrogations have ended and it will continue tomorrow. However, the minister shall remain with the operatives for further questioning tomorrow. (today).

“The officials were impressed with his decision to honour their invitation and so far, there has been mutual cooperation and understanding between the agency and my principal.

“We wish to use this medium to commend the EFCC for the mature way they went about the interrogations. They were truly professional.

“Senator Obanikoro has served this country at every level from local government chairman till his appointments as minister twice and he is proud of his contributions so far. He is not a fugitive as has been erroneously painted in the media and his returning to the country on his own volition is a further testimony to this.”

Former Minister of State for Defence Musiliu Obanikoro yesterday surrendered to the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission(EFCC), which is probing his role in the alleged disbursement of N4.745billion for the Ekiti State 2014 governorship election. The cash is believed to have come from the Office of the National Security Adviser (ONSA).

The anti-graft commission began the grilling of the ex-Minister at about 2pm.

The EFCC, said a source, was making efforts to secure a court order to keep Obanikoro in detention for the duration of his interrogation.

Also sighted at the EFCC yesterday was a former Ekiti State Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) Dr. Tope Aluko, who was a witness to how about N1.299billion was flown to the state to influence the governorship poll in 2014.

It was learnt that Aluko may be a star witness against Obanikoro, Governor Ayodele Fayose and Fayose’s associate, Abiodun Agbele (Alias Abbey).

Obanikoro arrived in Abuja at about 10am, but the EFCC team did not start attending to him until about 2pm.

Clad in a white kaftan, Obanikoro, who looked trim, was seen at the EFCC’s office at about 1.40pm in company of the Deputy National Chairman of the Sheriff faction of the Peoples Democratic Party(PDP), Dr. Cairo Ojougboh and five others.

He was smiling and shaking hands with people, including reporters.

The presence of Aluko pointed to a likely encounter with Obanikoro in the interrogation room.

A source in EFCC, who spoke in confidence, said: “While were are preparing to declare him wanted, the ex-minister surrendered to the EFCC for interrogation in respect of the probe of alleged N4.745billion fraud.

“Obviously, Obanikoro is the long-awaited suspect and we believe his coming will assist us in the investigation of how the money was sourced from the $2.1billion meant for arms from the Office of the National Security (ONSA).

“We have grilled him for more than three hours but this may take some days. It is about 90 per cent certain that we are not likely to release him.

“We need to interact also with his sons and daughter, based on the evidence at our disposal.”

Earlier, in a WhatsApp message, Obanikoro said: “I am in Abuja, just wanted to be the one to tell you.”

The EFCC had discovered that Sylvan Mcnamara Limited, a company believed to be owned by Obanikoro and his sons, was used to launder the N4.745billion.

The company, which was incorporated in November 2011, has as its directors an aide of the ex-minister, Ikenna Ezekwe (700,000 shares) of 51 Simpson Street, Ebute-Metta; Idowu Oshodi (299,000 shares) of 8 Prince Tayo Adesanya Street, Park View Estate, Ikoyi; and Elizabeth Adebiyi (1,000 shares) of 3 Adedoyin Street, Ijeshatedo, Surulere.

Ezekwe’s accounts have been de-frozen by the EFCC since the slush funds were not traced to him.

A document on the investigation states: “To set the stage for the use of the company for money laundering, the board of directors on May 7, 2012 passed a resolution that the company should open an account and appointed Mr. Gbolahan Obanikoro, Ikenna Ezekwe, Ms. Theresa Matuluko (Secretary) and Mr. Babajide Obanikoro as signatories to the account.

“The board added that the signing combination be that any of the signatories can sign alone.”

According to the EFCC, when it was time to illegally draw the N4.745billion from ONSA as war chest for Ekiti Governorship poll, ex-Minister Obanikoro made the account of Sylvan Mcnamara Limited available and coordinated the disbursement.”

The breakdown of the disbursement is as follows: N759, 384, 300 changed into dollars through bureau de change firms; N160million spent on cars through Balmoral International Limited; N1, 219, 490,000 ferried by Obanikoro in two flights to Akure for Fayose’s associate, Abiodun; balance of about N2billion allegedly withdrawn by Obanikoro and his two children in cash.

Some of the bureaux de change involved in the transactions and the amounts credited to them are: A.A.G.B.S Oil and Gas (N168,000,000.00); Sylvan Mcnamara Ltd (N167,500,000.00); Northline Ltd (N835,000.00); Northline Ltd (N83,750,000.00); Five Star Ltd N(37,600,000.00); A.B.A Trading Ent (N268,301,500.00); Villagolf Bureau De Change (N1,425,000.00); Ahmad &Omar (N350,000.000); Northline Ltd (N1,680,000.00); Northline Limited A (N2,325,300); Rehoboth Homes (20,000,0000); Northline Ltd (N5,932,500.00); Northline Ltd (N842,500); Northline Ltd (N842,500.00).

The EFCC probe showed how N1.299 billion was flown to Akure Airport on June 12, 2014, to Fayose through Agbele.

A report on the investigation reads: “On June 12, 2014, N1.299 billion was flown from Lagos to Akure Airport by Musiliu Obanikoro through a chartered plane with Registration No: HS125-800 5N-BMT belonging to Gyro Air Limited.

“The N1.299 billion was in two consignments but flown in the same aircraft twice in the morning and in the evening. “From FAAN records, the first cash of N724, 500,000 arrived at Akure Airport at an estimated time of 9.38am and the second was at 17.57hours.

“A bullion van was brought to the tarmac at the airport in Akure to evacuate the cash to Plot 13 Alagbaka Estate, Akure.

“Obanikoro handed over the funds to Fayose’s associate, Abiodun Agbele (alias Abbey).”

CEO/Founder Investors King Ltd, a foreign exchange research analyst, contributing author on New York-based Talk Markets and Investing.com, with over a decade experience in the global financial markets.

Government

COVID-19 Vaccine: African Export-Import Bank (Afrexim) to Purchase 270 Million Doses for Nigeria, Other African Nations

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African Export-Import Bank (Afrexim) Approves $2 Billion for the Purchase of 270 million Doses for African Nations

African Export-Import Bank (Afrexim) said it has approved $2 billion for the purchase of 270 million doses of COVID-19 vaccines for African nations, including Nigeria.

Prof. Benedict Oramah, the President of the Bank, disclosed this at a virtual Africa Soft Power Series held on Tuesday.

He, however, stated that the lender is looking to raise more funds for the COVID-19 vaccines’ acquisition.

He said: “The African Union knows that unless you put the virus away, your economy can’t come back. If Africa didn’t do anything, it would become a COVID-19 continent when other parts of the world have already moved on.
“Recall that it took seven years during the heat of HIV for them to come to Africa after 12 million people had died.

“With the assistance of the AU, we were able to get 270 million vaccines and financing need of about $2 billion. Afreximbank then went ahead to secure the $2 billion. But that money for the 270 million doses could only add 15 per cent to the 20 per cent that Covax was bringing.

He added that this is not the time to wait for handouts or free vaccines as other countries will naturally sort themselves out before African nations.

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China Calls for Better China-U.S. Relations

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China Calls for China-U.S. Relations

Senior Chinese diplomat Wang Yi said on Monday the United States and China could work together on issues like climate change and the coronavirus pandemic if they repaired their damaged bilateral relationship.

Wang, a Chinese state councillor and foreign minister, said Beijing stood ready to reopen constructive dialogue with Washington after relations between the two countries sank to their lowest in decades under former president Donald Trump.

Wang called on Washington to remove tariffs on Chinese goods and abandon what he said was an irrational suppression of the Chinese tech sector, steps he said would create the “necessary conditions” for cooperation.

Before Wang spoke at a forum sponsored by the foreign ministry, officials played footage of the “ping-pong diplomacy” of 1972 when an exchange of table tennis players cleared the way for then U.S. President Richard Nixon to visit China.

Wang, a Chinese state councillor and foreign minister, said Beijing stood ready to reopen constructive dialogue with Washington after relations between the two countries sank to their lowest in decades under former president Donald Trump.

Wang called on Washington to remove tariffs on Chinese goods and abandon what he said was an irrational suppression of the Chinese tech sector, steps he said would create the “necessary conditions” for cooperation.

Before Wang spoke at a forum sponsored by the foreign ministry, officials played footage of the “ping-pong diplomacy” of 1972 when an exchange of table tennis players cleared the way for then U.S. President Richard Nixon to visit China.

Wang urged Washington to respect China’s core interests, stop “smearing” the ruling Communist Party, stop interfering in Beijing’s internal affairs and stop “conniving” with separatist forces for Taiwan’s independence.

“Over the past few years, the United States basically cut off bilateral dialogue at all levels,” Wang said in prepared remarks translated into English.

“We stand ready to have candid communication with the U.S. side, and engage in dialogues aimed at solving problems.”

Wang pointed to a recent call between Chinese President Xi Jinping and U.S. President Joe Biden as a positive step.

Washington and Beijing have clashed on multiple fronts including trade, accusations of human rights crimes against the Uighur Muslim minorities in the Xinjiang region and Beijing’s territorial claims in the resources-rich South China Sea.

The Biden administration has, however, signalled it will maintain pressure on Beijing. Biden has voiced concern about Beijing’s “coercive and unfair” trade practices and endorsed of a Trump administration determination that China has committed genocide in Xinjiang.

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U.S. Supreme Court Allows Release of Trump Tax Returns

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President Trump Signs Executive Order In Oval Office Of The White House

U.S. Supreme Court Allows Release of Trump Tax Returns

The U.S. Supreme Court on Monday paved the way for a New York City prosecutor to obtain former President Donald Trump’s tax returns and other financial records as part of a criminal investigation, a blow to his quest to conceal details of his finances.

The justices without comment rebuffed Trump’s request to put on hold an Oct. 7 lower court ruling directing the former Republican president’s longtime accounting firm, Mazars USA, to comply with a subpoena to turn over the materials to a grand jury convened by Manhattan District Attorney Cyrus Vance, a Democrat.

“The work continues,” Vance said in a statement issued after the court’s action.

Vance had previously said in a letter to Trump’s lawyers that his office would be free to immediately enforce the subpoena if the justices rejected Trump’s request.

A lawyer for Trump did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

The Supreme Court, which has a 6-3 conservative majority included three Trump appointees, had already ruled once in the dispute, last July rejecting Trump’s broad argument that he was immune from criminal probes as a sitting president.

Unlike all other recent U.S. presidents, Trump refused during his four years in office to make his tax returns public. The data could provide details on his wealth and the activities of his family real-estate company, the Trump Organization.

Trump, who left office on Jan. 20 after being defeated in his Nov. 3 re-election bid by Democrat Joe Biden, continues to face an array of legal issues concerning his personal and business conduct.

Vance issued a subpoena to Mazars in August 2019 seeking Trump’s corporate and personal tax returns from 2011 to 2018. Trump’s lawyers sued to block the subpoena, arguing that as a sitting president, Trump had absolute immunity from state criminal investigations.

The Supreme Court in its July ruling rejected those arguments but said Trump could raise other objections to the subpoena. Trump’s lawyers then argued before lower courts that the subpoena was overly broad and amounted to political harassment, but U.S. District Judge Victor Marrero in August and the New York-based 2nd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in October rejected those claims.

Vance’s investigation, which began more than two years ago, had focused on hush money payments that the president’s former lawyer and fixer Michael Cohen made before the 2016 election to two women – adult-film actress Stormy Daniels and former Playboy model Karen McDougal – who said they had sexual encounters with Trump.

In recent court filings, Vance has suggested that the probe is now broader and could focus on potential bank, tax and insurance fraud, as well as falsification of business records.

In separate litigation, the Democratic-led U.S. House of Representatives was seeking to subpoena similar records. The Supreme Court in July sent that matter back to lower courts for further review.

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