by Yusuf Alli and Odunyo Ogunmola; TheNation;
Detectives were yesterday in Ado-Ekiti, the Ekiti State capital, to arrest some suspects in the N4.7billion arms cash probe.
But the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) men found nobody. Their targets were said to have gone into hiding in the palatial Oke Ayoba Government House.
“They are all holed up in the place but they can’t hide forever,” an EFCC source said last night.
But Fayose threatened to name others involved in the transfer of money into his account “if they cannot stand by what they did because of the threat from the EFCC.
He accused Zenith Bank of succumbing to intimidation. But, according to a source, the bank reported the “suspicious transactions” of N4.745billion by Fayose’s associate, Abiodun Agbele, to the Nigerian Financial Intelligence Unit (NFIU).
An EFCC source, who pleaded not to be named, said Zenith Bank reported the N1.219billion suspicious transactions by Musiliu Obanikoro and Agbele to the NFIU.
“We have been on this case for a while. From the facts available, Zenith Bank reported the transactions to NFIU,” the source added.
“We have intelligence report that some of these people wanted in connection with the ongoing investigation have been moved to the Government House in Ado-Ekiti.”
On the reaction of Fayose to the EFCC fact-sheet, the source said: “We have nothing to react to at all because we have put the incontrovertible facts in the public domain.
“Let Fayose go and defend himself. We will not take up issues with him any longer. And having shifted his defence to Zenith Bank, it is the duty of the media to hear from the bank.”
The EFCC has traced about N4.75 billion of the diverted $2.1 billion arms cash to Fayose and former Minister of State (Defence) Musiliu Obanikoro. Fayose accused his bankers of succumbing to what he called “EFCC intimidation” in a bid to nail him (Fayose).
He claimed that the electoral expenses for his 2014 Ekiti poll victory were funded by Zenith Bank Plc, fundraising, donations from friends and associates as well as sales of campaign souvenirs.
Fayose said: “I have no financial transaction whatsoever with the Office of the National Security Adviser (ONSA) under Col. Sambo Dasuki (rtd) and former Minister of State for Defence, Senator Musiliu Obanikoro either by cash, cheque or electronic transfer.”
In a statement by his Chief Press Secretary, Idowu Adelusi, Fayose challenged the EFCC to publish statements made by Obanikoro, his son or any other person associated with money from the NSA office where they claimed they gave him money for the election.
He accused the EFCC of “acting a movie scripted, produced and directed by the All Progressives Congress (APC) government of President Muhammadu Buhari just to silence me being a major opposition voice in the country.”
Fayose challenged the EFCC to beam its searchlight on the funding of the APC election campaign, alleging that an oil giant donated $60 million to the campaign of the then opposition party.
On how he came about the funds for his election, Fayose alleged that he was invited by the management of Zenith Bank, which he claimed nominated an officer to manage the account.
The governor said: “The management of Zenith Bank, which majorly funded my election, called me to a meeting where I was assured that fund will be provided for my election. I was asked to nominate a trusted ally to be related with and I nominated Mr Abiodun Agbele.
“All the payments into Abiodun Agbele’s account domiciled in Zenith Bank were directly from Zenith Bank. In actual fact, the account was opened by Zenith Bank hurriedly at that time and Abiodun Agbele’s identity card which ought to have been collected before the account was opened was only collected last week in the bank’s desperation to perfect the account, obviously after submitting to the intimidation and harassment of the EFCC.
“Most of the funds posted into Agbele’s account were through the Ibadan, Akure and Lagos branches of the Zenith Bank and, sometimes, they brought cash.
“Assuming but not conceding that cash moved from Lagos to Akure as being claimed by the EFCC in its usual manner of media trial, was meant for my election in Ekiti, why was the cash not moved to Ado-Ekiti branch of Zenith Bank or the cash handed to me directly?
“Why was it deposited into Zenith Bank, Akure and did the bank make any report on the transaction to the appropriate authorities? Why did the bank send its bullion van to move the money from Akure Airport to their Akure branch if it was illegal money?
“I must say it categorically that I don’t have any link financially with Obanikoro and I know as a fact that he (Obanikoro) has not; and cannot mention my name, as a beneficiary of whatever money, any company in which he has interest could have gotten from the ONSA if truly Obanikoro collected money from the ONSA as being claimed by the EFCC.
“Therefore, bringing Obanikoro and his son’s narrative or that the Zenith Bank is telling different stories, having been blackmailed and coerced into submission by the EFCC is a joke that will not fly.
“I wish to state further that if it becomes evidently clear that those who willingly provided money for my election can no longer stand by what they did, maybe because of threat from the EFCC, I will not hesitate to name names.”
Challenging the EFCC to also beam its searchlights on the funding of APC elections, especially that of President Buhari, Fayose said; “Since we are now in the era in which financial assistance from Nigerians to fund elections is being criminalised, the international community, especially those funding EFCC must insist that the commission probes the funding of APC elections before further funds are released to the commission.
“Most importantly, Nigerians are interested in the $60 million allegedly donated to the APC campaign by Sahara Energy, on which EFCC has been forced to suspend investigation.”
He said it was obvious that he had become the main headache of President Buhari’s administration, adding that “what they are doing now is part of their grand plot to intimidate and harass me into submission but I am not someone that can’t be cowed by threats of incarceration and death.
“I advise that they should keep their gun powder dry and wait till the end of my tenure in 2018 and I want to assure them that I will be available to answer any of their questions, no matter how unreasonable.
“Furthermore, Nigerians should know that I have been persecuted by the EFCC before, using phantom N1.2 billion poultry scam and I came out victorious. I was not only acquitted, I got N10 million judgment against the EFCC and my impeachment that was orchestrated by the EFCC was quashed by the Supreme Court.
“Nigerians should recall that it was part of this plot to get back at me because of my critical stance on Buhari’s government that the Ekiti State House of Assembly was invaded by men of the Department of State Service (DSS), placement of travel ban on me and, lately, illegal freezing of my account by the EFCC.
“I therefore make bold to state that in the overall interest of democracy and well-being of Nigerians, I will continue to speak my mind on issues bordering on governance in Nigeria. I cannot be intimidated!”