The Economic and Financial Crimes Commission yesterday detained a former Minister of Defence, Musiliu Obanikoro, after he submitted himself for investigation over his alleged involvement in the N4.7 billion arms probe.
Obanikoro left Nigeria for the United States of America (USA) shortly after the 2015 general elections but was declared wanted by EFCC over the roles he allegedly played in the build-up to the Ekiti governorship election in 2014 and, specifically, an alleged airlifting of N1.29 billion, which was part of the N4.745 billion arms funds collected from the office of former National Security Adviser (NSA), Col Sambo Dasuki (retd), between April 4, 2014, and December 15, 2014.
The former minister arrived Lagos from the US yesterday and headed to Abuja to keep a scheduled appointment with the EFCC.
He was reportedly accompanied by eight associates and friends to the office of EFCC around 1:00pm yesterday.
Head of Media and Publicity of EFCC, Mr. Wilson Uwujaren confirmed that Obanikoro reported to the commission.
“The former minister of state for Defence is with the commission,” he said.
The anti-graft commission is investigating a firm, which reportedly belongs to two of Obanikoro’s sons, Sylvan McNamara, for receiving the N4.75 billion arms funds from the former NSA’s officebetween April 4, 2014, and December 15, 2014.
The two sons are Babajide and Gbolahan Obanikoro.
Operatives in charge of the case are claiming, with documentary proof, that a total of N4.745 billion was paid into the Diamond Bank account of Sylvan McNamara during the period. The company, which was incorporated in November 2011, had Ikenna Ezekwe, Idowu Oshodi and Elizabeth Adeniyi as directors.
But, the company resolved to open an account with Diamond Bank Plc on May 7, 2016, with Gbolahan, Babajide Obanikoro, Ikenna Ezekwe and Theresa Matuluko as signatories.
The former minister was also mentioned in a video recording of plans to use the military to intimidate voters during the governorship election in Osun State, where Governor Rauf Aregbesola was re-elected.
Investigators discovered that upon the receipt of the money from Dasuki, Obanikoro allegedly conveyed N1,219,490,000 to Akure for the purpose of facilitating the election of Ayodele Fayose as governor of Ekiti State, in 2014.
An aide of Fayose, Abiodun Agbele docked at the Federal High Court, Abuja, was alleged to have taken delivery of the money from Obanikoro in tranches at the Akure airport. Obanikoro was also accused by the EFCC of facilitating the escape of one Olalekan Ogunseye from the the law in a case instituted against Agbele.
Searching for vital documents to nail him, EFCC operatives swooped on his house in Ikoyi Lagos where vehicles and other valuables were carted away when he was out of the country.
Jonathan Eze, spokesman of Obanikoro, former ambassador to Ghana had, in a statement, blasted the anti-graft agency for the invasion and ‘unnecessary force and harassment’ of occupants who are mainly kids, teenagers, his wife and daughters in-law.
Wilson Uwajaren, spokesman of EFCC had defended the raid on Obanikoro’s house when he said it was part of the investigation involving him and his two sons but operatives of the agency denied harassing anybody.
“Anybody familiar with the EFCC knows that we don’t harass people. Our men went there to do their lawful duty,” he added.
The EFCC had frozen Fayose’s account and the account of McNamara with Diamond Bank for alleged illegal transaction in June, 2016.
As at 10:45pm, yesterday, Obanikoro was still being held by interrogators at the EFCC office. But, his counsel and a Senior Advocate of Nigeria, James Onoja said the former minister would be grilled overnight by detectives.
“Unfortunately, he will not be out again today (Monday),” his counsel said.
Onoja said his client wrote a statement and that, “he told them all he knew.
“So, we hope he would be released today.” He, however, added that “if he’s not released, then, we will have to do the needful.
“At least, we have the courts and this is still a country that should be governed by the rule of law.”