By Yusuf Alli, TheNation
e Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) has uncovered another $5million (N1.040billion) cash allegedly given to Ekiti State Governor Ayodele Fayose by former Minister of State for Defence Senator Musiliu Obanikoro, it was learnt yesterday.
The cash is part of the N4.7billion slush funds traced to Obanikoro’s company, Sylva McNamara.
Out of the $5 million, EFCC’s investigation has shown how Fayose allegedly gave his associate , Abiodun Agbele, over $1million as part-payment for the acquisition of four chalets in Lagos.
The bubble burst when Agbele took the $1million to a Bureau De Change (BDC) operator, Ahmed Uba, who transferred the cash to Still Earth as part-payment for the properties.
Also, the EFCC has grilled Ekiti State Commissioner for Justice and Attorney-General Kolapo Kolade, who admitted that he facilitated the agreements for the four properties.
Kolade, who may face EFCC interrogators on August 30, it was gathered, said he was paid N1million for the job.
According to a top source in the commission, the ongoing investigation of Fayose for allegedly receiving N1.219billion from Obanikoro, also revealed that he got another $5m cash (N1.040billion) from the ex-minister.
“Our investigation so far has shown that out of the $5m Fayose gave Agbele $1million which Agbele gave to a BDC operator who transferred the money to Still Earth as part-payment for the properties bought.
“Going through the accounts of Fayose, you could see a lot of transactions. Kolapo Kolade , now a commissioner in Fayose’s cabinet was the one who arranged the agreement between Still Earth and J.J. Technical.
“We have interrogated the owner of the BDC Jamil Uba, who told us how he asked his staff to attend to Agbele. Jamil said ‘I instructed Abba Ahmed Uba to transfer the money into Still Earth accounts because Abba Ahmed Uba was working under me that day when Agbele sold $1million at the rate of N208, which is equivalent of N208million.”
The EFCC team has also discovered that one of the companies used for the purchase of the properties , J.J. Technicals Limited, was not in the picture until the owners were invited for questioning.
The source said: “Agbele got Maroun Mechleb, a Lebanese and contractor to the Ekiti State Government to provide a company, J.J. Technicals Services Limited whose name was used in making the agreement for the sale of the four chalets in Victoria Island by Still Earth.
“J.J. Technicals Services belongs to Maroun Mechleb’s junior brother, Joseph and his brother-in-law. They gave him the company’s document to help them prospect for contracts in Ekiti State. He gave the company’s document to Agbele without their knowledge.”
The two Lebanese, Joseph and Maroum Mechleb have told the EFCC that they had nothing to do with the purchase of the four properties in Lagos.
The source quoted Maroun Mechleb as saying: “I also saw an agreement with my signature between Noga Hotels Nigeria Limited for the sum of $1.1m. I am not aware of the agreement even though my signature appears on it. The agreement is between Noga Hotels Nigeria Limited and J.J . Technical Services. My brother who owns the company does not know anything about the whole agreement with Noga Hotels Nigeria Limited.”
According to the source, Joseph Mechleb said: “I did not know that the company was used to buy any property. I don’t know of any property(ies) that J.J. Technical Services bought. I hear of Fayose but have never heard of Biodun Agbele.
“I don’t know of any company with the name, Still Earth. I got to know of a property that was bought with J.J. Technical Services few weeks ago when our manager told me that the EFCC has invited me to Abuja. I am not a signatory to the said account.
“I don’t know the said property. I don’t know where it is located . I have never heard of any property purchased with J.J. Technicals before.
“I have not done any project in Ekiti State before. I only go visiting and sight-seeing. I visit our site in Imore, Ikere Road. I don’t visit Fayose in Ekiti. It is Maroun that works in Ekiti
Kolade, who was grilled by EFCC, it was learnt, said he knew of the agreements for the four chalets.
He said: “Sometimes in early January 2015, Abiodun Agbele approached me that he and his friend wanted to buy a property in Lagos and gave me the particulars of the property situated on Victoria Island and that I should keep them and conduct a search.
“I did and advised him that the property is free from encumbrance. About a month later or there about, he came to me and said the property had been paid for and that I should help them go to Lagos to collect the agreements from a company called Still Earth. I went to Lagos and collected the agreements. It was in respect of two chalets; the agreements were between Still Earth and J.J. Technicals.
“The two agreements I signed for them at Still Earth, I brought them to Ado -Ekiti. Upon looking through the documents given to me at Still Earth, the agreement with which Still Earth bought the property from a company called Noga Hotels was also given to me.
“I noticed that Still Earth Company newly bought the property from Noga and had not perfected their papers.
“The staff of Still Earth said they could get Noga Hotels to make an agreement directly with my clients, J.J. Technicals so that they don’t do double consent but the money she asked for was ridiculously high and going through the document, I saw that the lawyer that acted for Noga Hotels is one Adekunle Ojo, who incidentally is my friend.
“I told my client, who asked me to discuss with Lawyer Adekunle Ojo if he could work on the agreement between Noga Hotels and J.J. Technicals Services. I called Mr. Adekunle Ojo, he agreed , he said his chambers will collect N500,000 if he did that. I told my client, they said he should go ahead.
“The money was given to me and I paid it into his account. When the documents were ready, he handed them over to me and I handed them over to Agbele and one white man who both came to me to collect same.
“The white man signed and they took the agreement away and gave me N500,000 as my fees. That is all I know about the first two chalets.
“After about two months or thereabout, Agbele called me that he has given my number to the Still Earth people and they will call me. Later that day, someone from Still Earth called me that I should send my e-mail address. I did and the person sent to me an offer letter in respect of yet another two chalets in the same estate on Victoria Island.
“I told Agbele and he said I should accept the offer. I did by replying the e-mail. I didn’t hear anything again until one day Agbele called me again that I should help him collect documents from Still Earth Limited in respect of the two chalets.
“This second set of agreements was made between a company called Signachorr and J.J. Technicals Services. I took them to Ado-Ekiti and handed them over to Agbele. The white man did not come with him the second time.
“Agbele said I should help him approach Mr. Adekunle Ojo to help him write an agreement between Noga Hotels and J.J. Technical Services. I did and Mr. Adekunle Ojo sent the second set of agreement . I was also given N500,000 for him which I also paid into his account. I was also paid N500,00 for my efforts.
“When I approached Mr. Adekunle Ojo to help write an agreement between Noga Hotels and J.J. Technicals in respect of the two sets of agreement, he demanded for copies of the agreement between Still Earth and J.J. Technicals as a confirmation that J.J . Technicals actually bought from Still Earth.
“I was given a copy of the agreement to give him and I actually gave him. He also called to inform me that he also confirmed from Still Earth that J.J. Technical actually bought the properties before agreeing to prepare the agreements. I don’t know who J.J. Technical is.”