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Obanikoro Offers to Refund N785m Slush Fund

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Musiliu Obanikoro
  • Obanikoro Offers to Refund N785m Slush Fund

Embattled former Minister of State for Defence, Senator Musiliu Obanikoro may soon be let out of custody by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) following indications that he has agreed to make refunds of the money he allegedly collected from the Office of National Security Adviser (ONSA).

The anti-graft agency accused the ex-minister of collecting N785 million from ONSA while in office.

His friends and associates are understood to be rallying around him to raise the funds as a first step to secure his bail.

Obanikoro is understood to be targeting N100 million as first installment of the refund.

From ONSA, about N4.685 billon was transferred to Sylva McNamara Limited, a company allegedly linked to the ex-Minister.

Obanikoro told EFCC interrogators that N3.880 billion of the N4.685 billion was allocated to Governor Ayodele Fayose of Ekiti State and Senator Iyiola Omisore.

He also said he handed over $5.377 million (about N60 million then) cash to Fayose at Spotless Hotel, Ado-Ekiti in the presence of the former Secretary of the Peoples Democratic Party in the state, Dr. Tope Aluko and other party stalwarts.

He said the balance of N785 million was expended on alleged anti-Boko Haram campaign in Lagos and the South-West.

A source, who spoke in confidence, said: “The ex-minister has been cooperating with detectives and he appears willing to refund some cash out of the N785 million traced to Sylvan McNamara.

“I think his associates and friends have rallied around him, having discovered that the bulk of the cash from ONSA went to Fayose and Omisore.

“I think he might initially refund N100 million to get bail reprieve in order to prevail on others who benefited from the N785 million to repay the slush funds.

“The refund is one of the issues delaying the granting of bail to the ex-minister.”

Obanikoro had said: “The balance of N785 milion were used to prosecute the following: 1. procurement of souvenirs for the promotion of anti-Boko Haram insurgency in Lagos; 2. N200million for surveillance activities; 3. N200 million and other remaining funds were for operations managed by Taiwo Kareem.

“Taiwo Kareem impressed the former NSA with his management of pre and post-election funds. To God be the glory, the two elections were carried out without any loss of life

“When bomb blast occurred in Lagos on the 25th of June 2014, the NSA was disturbed and told me of his commitment to ensure that such doesn’t reoccur.

“He expressed the grave consequence that the reoccurrence will have not only on Lagos but the economy of the entire country.

“He emphasised the need for local input to complement the activities of security agencies. This is how Sylvan McNamara was introduced.”

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

The company, which was incorporated in November 2011 had the following as its directors: a close 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.

Ikenna Ezekwe’s account has been de-frozen by the EFCC since the slush funds were not traced to him.

Ezekwe has also been removed as the director of the slush company.

A document said: “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.”

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

Contacted, Obanikoro’s spokesperson, Jonathan Eze, said he was not aware of the development.

Another source close to him, however, said “it is true.”

 

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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Government

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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