Fidelis Soriwei, Abuja
The ongoing interrogation of the former Minister of State for Defence, Musiliu Obanikoro, entered its third day on Wednesday with the ex-minister saying that N785m out of the N4.68bn, allegedly collected by him, was spent on souvenirs and other items to promote anti-Boko Haram campaign in Lagos.
Obanikoro is being grilled by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission in connection with disbursement of N4.68bn, the anti-graft commission claimed was collected by the ex-minister in the run-up to the governorship election in Ekiti State in June 2014 and Osun State in August 2014.
The ex-minister, who flew in from his United States base on Monday and reported to the EFCC, admitted on Wednesday that he transferred N1.7bn of the money to the 2014 governorship candidate of the Peoples Democratic Party in Osun State, Senator Iyiola Omisore.
“He told the panel that the N785m was spent on procurement of souvenirs for the campaign against Boko Haram in Lagos out of which N200m was spent on surveillance activities and N200m out of other remaining funds for operations was managed by the supposed owner of the company, Taiwo Kareem,” a source in the commission added.
It was stated that Obanikoro told the panel that Dasuki was worried when a bomb blast supposedly rocked Lagos, adding that he was committed to ensuring that there was no recurrence.
He told the operatives that Dasuki told him that a recurrence would have grave implications not only on Lagos but also on the entire economy of the country and should be stopped.
Obanikoro was said to have explained that it was at that point that Silva McNamara was introduced to the former NSA.
A top operative of the commission, who spoke to our correspondent on Wednesday, stated that Obanikoro said the money was paid into the personal account of Omisore and accounts of companies nominated by the former Osun State deputy governor.
The former minister was said to have asked the EFCC to get the details of the transactions from the banks already identified.
The source did not, however, mention the names of the banks involved in the transactions involving Omisore.
He alleged that out of a total of N4.685bn paid into the account of Sylva Mcnamara, a company linked to Obanikoro’s sons, Babajide and Gbolahan, a total of N3.880bn was paid to the Governor of Ekiti State, Ayodele Fayose, and Omisore for the 2014 polls in the two states.
It was stated that the funds were paid through cash and bank transfers.
The operative quoted Obanikoro as having told the EFCC interrogators that he handed over the dollar equivalent of the funds to Fayose in the presence of some PDP leaders.
The source said, “The former minister, Obanikoro, is still with the commission. The investigation is still ongoing and he cooperated and answered the questions put to him.
“He admitted that he transferred N1.7bn to Senator Iyiola Omisire out of the N4.685bn paid into the Silva Mcnamara’s account on the instructions of Col. Sambo Dasuki, the former NSA.
“He said a total of N3.880bn was transferred to Fayose and Omisore from the N4.685bn that was transferred to the company account of Sylva McNamara.
“The former minister told the commission that Tope Aluko (the then Ekti State Secretary of the PDP) and other PDP leaders were present when the dollars were handed over to Fayose, who took them to a room next to where they met.”
The ex-minister also stated that the former National Security Adviser, Col. Sambo Dasuki (retd.), did not tell him what the funds were meant for.