Story by Gbenga Ogunbufunmi
The N2.2bn fraud trial of the immediate past Ekiti State Governor, Mr Ayodele Fayose, resumed yesterday with his former ally and former Minister of State for Defence, Musiliu Obanikoro, testifying against him.
However, while being cross-examined by the second defence counsel, Mr Olalekan Ojo (SAN), Obanikoro told the court that he was testifying against Fayose reluctantly, noting that they enjoyed a good relationship while they were both members of the Peoples Democratic Party(PDP)
In court yesterday, Obanikoro said despite testifying against Fayose, he wouldn’t want their relationship to be destroyed.
At a point in the course of being grilled by the defence counsel, Obanikoro burst out, “I’m trying to restrain myself from saying things that will further damage our relationship!”
But pushing him further, the defence counsel, Ojo, asked, “So, will it be correct to say that you are giving evidence in this case reluctantly?”
Obanikoro said yes: “It’s painful for me to give evidence against him (Fayose); no doubt about it. It is indeed very painful.”
Obanikoro had earlier testified that all the transactions and disbursement made on the said money was done to further the governorship ambition of Fayose.
When pressed as to how many days he spent in Ado -Ekiti when he went there to deliver the sum of $5.7million to the defendant, the former minister said he could not remember precisely ,but said he spent days.
When further pressed as to what he was doing in Ado -Ekiti for days, he said he was there as a PDP leader and in order to further the ambition of the defendant.
Obanikoro also told the court that the nature of security operations are not what the ordinary people think it is and that by the nature of the operation, not everything are put down in writing.
On whether the former National Security Adviser, NSA, Sambo Dasuki at any time asked him to account for the money, he said no.
The Economic and Financial Crimes Commission is prosecuting Fayose for allegedly taking N2.2billion from the office of the National Security Adviser to prosecute his governorship election in 2014.
The EFCC said Fayose received the N2.2billion from then NSA, Sambo Dasuki, through Obanikoro.
At previous hearing, Obanikoro had admitted taking N2.2billion from Dasuki for onward delivery to Fayose in Ado Ekiti, adding that on Fayose’s instructions, part of the money was changed into US dollars before delivery.
Under cross-examination by the second defence counsel on Monday, Obanikoro affirmed that he took the money to Fayose in Ado Ekiti as a PDP leader, who was carrying out a mission for his political party.
Earlier while cross-examining Obanikoro, the first defence counsel, Chief Kanu Agabi (SAN), asked the ex-minister if he was earlier treated as a suspect by the EFCC while investigating the case.
In reply, Obanikoro said yes.