- Obanikoro: I Gave Fayose $5.37m Cash for Ekiti Poll
DETAINED former Minister of State (Defence) Musiliu Obanikoro has implicated Governor Ayodele Fayose in the probe of the N4.745billion wired to a company by the Office of the National Security Adviser (ONSA).
The cash was wired to Sylva Mcnamara, which has been linked to Obanikoro within seven months in 2014.
Sen. Obanikoro said of the cash, N2.23billion was transferred to Fayose.
He handed Fayose $5,377,000 in cash and N1.3billion was received by the governor’s associate, Mr. Abiodun Agbele.
Obanikoro admitted that the N1.3billion was flown to Akure airport in two chartered flights for delivery to Agbele.
The money was sourced from the $2.1billion meant for arms purchase at the ONSA.
Obanikoro told Economic and Financial Crimes (EFCC) detectives that he is not the owner of Sylva Mcnamara that was used to transfer the funds to Fayose.
But he defended why the money was remitted to Mcnamara. Part of the reason is the warding off of a plot by Boko Haram to attack Lagos, he claimed.
Accompanied by his lawyer, Mr. James Onoja(SAN), the ex-minister was confronted with a petition from ONSA which was dated November 28, 2015.
The petition is titled “Payment to companies with no contract awards or approval”.
He said having gone through the petition, he discovered that Sylva Mcnamara was No. 78 on the list of firms being investigated, having “collected the aggregate sum of N4,685,000,000 between April 4, 2014 and November 13, 2014.
A source quoted Obanikoro as saying that “N2.2billion was transferred to Sylva Mcnamara for onward transfer to Mr. Ayodele Fayose on the instruction of the National Security Adviser (NSA).
“The sum of N1.3billion cash was brought in a bullion van by Diamond Bank on the instruction of the NSA.
“In addition, the sum of N60million was converted to dollars at the rate of N168 per dollar and altogether the sum of $5,377,000 was handed over in cash by me to Mr. Fayose while the N1.3billion was received by Mr. Fayose’s associate, Mr. Abiodun Agbele, in the presence of my Aide-de-Camp (ADC), Lt. Adewale, who also accompanied them to the bank along with the bank officials.
“I didn’t interact with the bank officials. I called Fayose before the funds were handed over to Mr. Abiodun Agbele. I spoke to Fayose with my phone at Akure airport.”
On how the cash was transferred to Fayose, the source said Obanikoro told investigators that “two flights were used to convey the money from Lagos”.
The ex-minister said he “took off with the first flight with part of the money. The second flight brought the remaining funds to Akure airport and I directed that it should be handed over to the same person,” he was quoted as saying.
The source said Obanikoro however maintained that part of the cash was used to ward off Boko Haram aggression in Lagos and in the Southwest.
The source added: “He told us that he is not the owner of the company in question but introduced the owner, Mr. Kareem Taiwo, to the NSA, Mr. Sambo Dasuki, when the threat of Boko Haram became more visible in Lagos.
He said the government wanted to “incorporate local input into the intelligence gathering and prevention of terrorist attack on Lagos and the Southwest”.
The EFCC had discovered that Sylvan Mcnamara Limited, allegedly owned by Obanikoro and his sons, was used to launder the N4.745billion.
The company, which was incorporated in November 2011, has the following as its directors: the ex-Minister’s aide, 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 has had his accounts defrozen by the EFCC since the slush funds were not traced to him.
The Nation stumbled on a document on the investigation. t 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 the signatories to the account.
“The board added that the signing combination be that any of the signatories can sign alone.”
According to EFCC, when it was time to draw the N4.745billion from ONSA as a war chest for the 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:
- N N759, 384, 300 changed into dollars through Bureau de change
- N160million used to purchase cars through Balmoral International Limited
- N1, 219, 490,000 ferried by Obanikoro in two flights to Akure and received by Fayose’s associate, Abiodun; and balance of about N2billion withdrawn by Obanikoro and his two children in cash.
Some of the bureau de change involved in the transactions and the amounts credited to them include 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).
2023 Voter’s Registration Will Be Online, Biometric To Be Captured Physically- INEC
The Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) yesterday unfolded plans to allow online filing during the continuous voter registration for the 2023 general election.
The National Commissioner and Chairman, Information and Voter Education Committee of INEC, Mr. Festus Okoye, however, said only the biometric would be captured physically by INEC officials.
But the commission suffered another setback yesterday as arsonists torched its office in Ohafia Local Government Area of Abia State.
Okoye, during a stakeholders’ meeting on expanding voter access to polling units in Kano yesterday, said: “On June 28, the voter registration exercise for those above 18 years and those who have not registered before will commence with two new innovations. Those versatile with computer can register online and only visit a registration centre to capture their biometrics.”
Okoye stated that the online registration would be introduced to reduce crowd at registration centres in line with COVID-19 protocols.
The commission called on citizens, especially those willing to contest elections, whose voter cards have been defaced, whose names were wrongly spelt or addresses and locations wrongly captured to present themselves for authentication or correction.
INEC also called for valid data of all those with disabilities or physical challenges to be captured during the continuous registration for proper projections ahead of the 2023 general election.
INEC also warned political parties and politicians who have started campaigning to desist from doing so.
Okoye said: “There is a ban on political campaigns which has not been lifted yet. And I find it necessary to draw your attention for you to understand the legal implication of violating this ban.
“I have listened to comments on radio stations, which are capable of heating the polity. Media organisations should avoid providing platforms for such comments. The media should try to curtail such tensions.
“Political parties, politicians and their supporters should understand there is a legal framework for campaigns and it has not commenced yet.”
No Plans To Relocate AFRICOM HQ To Nigeria Or Any Part Of Africa- U.S. Replies Buhari
The United States has said there is no plan to relocate its Africa Command from its current base in Germany to Nigeria or any other part of Africa despite the worsening state of insecurity in the region.
The US gave the response barely two weeks after President Muhammadu Buhari appealed to the US government to consider relocating AFRICOM to Africa to assist Nigeria and other adjoining countries to combat worsening terrorism, banditry and other security crises.
The President made the plea in a virtual meeting with the US Secretary of State, Antony Blinken, on April 27.
Germany-based Africa Command (AFRICOM) is the US military headquarters that oversees its operations in Africa.
Buhari’s request followed a series of recent military casualties in Nigeria’s decade-long fight against Boko Haram terrorists, fresh expansion of the insurgents’ bases to Niger and Nasarawa States, and heavy waves of abductions and killings by bandits in the North.
Buhari said, “The security challenges in Nigeria remain of great concern to us and impacted more negatively, by existing complex negative pressures in the Sahel, Central and West Africa, as well as the Lake Chad Region.
“Compounded as the situation remains, Nigeria and her security forces remain resolutely committed to containing them and addressing their root causes.
“The support of important and strategic partners like the United States cannot be overstated as the consequences of insecurity will affect all nations, hence the imperative for concerted cooperation and collaboration of all nations to overcome these challenges.
“In this connection, and considering the growing security challenges in West and Central Africa, Gulf of Guinea, Lake Chad region and the Sahel, weighing heavily on Africa, it underscores the need for the United States to consider relocating AFRICOM headquarters from Stuttgart, Germany to Africa and near the Theatre of Operation.”
However, the US government on Thursday ruled out any plan to relocate AFRICOM from its current base in Germany to Nigeria or any part of Africa.
According to the United States Department of Defence’ Pentagon, previous studies have shown that the cost of relocating AFRICOM from Germany to Africa is very huge.
In an emailed response to The PUNCH, the Pentagon said although it would continue to value Nigeria and other countries in Africa as important partners, the American government would not consider relocating AFRICOM to any part of the African continent at the moment.
This newspaper had asked if the US would consider Nigeria’s request to relocate AFRICOM to the continent.
“It would be inappropriate to speculate on any future actions. However, at this time, moving this headquarters (AFRICOM HQ) to Africa is not part of any plans, but USAFRICOM’s commitment to their mission, our African and other partners, remains as strong today as when we launched this command more than a decade ago,” US Pentagon spokesperson, Ms. Cindi King, said.
King also ruled out any plan to consider Buhari’s request in an ongoing global US defence review.
She said, “Although there is an ongoing Global Posture Review, the relocation of Combatant Command headquarters is outside the scope of its assessment. In the case of AFRICOM, previous studies have concluded that the cost associated with the relocation of this headquarters is significant and likely to incur the expense of other engagement opportunities and activities that more directly benefit our valued African partners.
“We greatly value the partnership with Nigeria and appreciate President Buhari’s recognition of the United States’ positive contribution to African peace and security, as well as other regional partners that have made similar past pronouncements. The United States remains committed to continuing our close partnership with African countries and organisations to promote security and stability.”
It’s ‘near impossible’ for America to accept Buhari’s invitation –Campbell, ex-US ambassador
Meanwhile, a former United States Ambassador to Nigeria, John Campbell, has listed reasons why it is “unlikely or near impossible” for the US government to relocate AFRICOM from Stuttgart in Germany to Nigeria or any part of the continent.
He said aside from the fact that the cost of doing so is very huge, the Nigerian military had proved to be a difficult partner for the US over the years.
China Urges U.N. States Not to Attend Xinjiang Event Next Week
China has urged United Nations member states not to attend an event planned next week by Germany, the United States and Britain on the repression of Uyghur Muslims and other minorities in Xinjiang, according to a note seen by Reuters on Friday.
“It is a politically-motivated event,” China’s U.N. mission wrote in the note, dated Thursday. “We request your mission NOT to participate in this anti-China event.”
China charged that the organizers of the event, which also include several other European states along with Australia and Canada, use “human rights issues as a political tool to interfere in China’s internal affairs like Xinjiang, to create division and turbulence and disrupt China’s development.”
“They are obsessed with provoking confrontation with China,” the note said, adding that “the provocative event can only lead to more confrontation.”
The Chinese mission to the United Nations did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
The ambassadors of the United States, Germany and Britain are due to address the virtual U.N. event on Wednesday, along with Human Rights Watch Executive Director Ken Roth and Amnesty International Secretary General Agnes Callamard.
The aim of the event is to “discuss how the U.N. system, member states and civil society can support and advocate for the human rights of members of ethnic Turkic communities in Xinjiang,” according to an invitation.
Western states and rights groups have accused authorities in Xinjiang of detaining and torturing Uyghurs in camps, which the United States has described as genocide. In January, Washington banned the import of cotton and tomato products from Xinjiang over allegations of forced labor.
Beijing denies the accusations and describes the camps as vocational training centers to combat religious extremism.
“Beijing has been trying for years to bully governments into silence but that strategy has failed miserably, as more and states step forward to voice horror and revulsion at China’s crimes against Uyghurs and other Turkic Muslims,” Human Rights Watch U.N. director Louis Charbonneau said on Friday.
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