Alleged $5m Money Laundering: Court Admits Statements Of Late Aide To Obanikoro

 

 

The Federal High Court sitting in Lagos has admitted in evidence a statement made by the late Justin Erukaa, a Personal Assistant to the former Minister of State for Defence Senator Musiliu Obanikoro.

Justice Mojisola Olatoregun admitted the statement in the trial of the former Governor of Ekiti state, Mr Ayodele Fayose.

Mr Fayose is on trial for allegedly receiving and keeping N1.2billion and $5million allegedly stolen from the Office of National Security Adviser (ONSA) contrary to the Money Laundering Act.

He had pleaded not guilty when he was arraigned on an 11-count charge last October 22.

Sen. Obanikoro is testifying as the fifth prosecution witness in the trial.

At the last adjourned date of Feb 7th, Obanikoro was absent in court but despite his absence, the court listened to arguments on whether a statement made by Justin Erukaa, the late Personal Assistant to the former Minister of State for Defence Senator Musiliu Obanikoro, could be tendered & admitted as evidence especially as he was not a party to the case.

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A defence counsel, Olalekan Ojo (SAN) had argued that the statement was relevant to the case because Erukaa made the statement in the course of the investigation.

Obanikoro had said in his testimony that he sent Erukaa on errands, including to collect over $1million and that he came to meet him in Ekiti.
“In law, a statement made to the EFCC in the course of the investigation is admissible in evidence without the maker being called as a witness or being a party to proceedings.
“It is not the law that a document which is not tendered through the maker is not admissible,” the SAN said, relying on sections 39 and 83 of the Evidence Act.

But, the EFCC Counsel, Rotimi Jacobs opposed the move to tender the statement, arguing that it was not admissible in law. He said the sections relied on by Ojo were not applicable in the circumstances.

“He wants to smuggle the statement in,” Jacobs said. According to Jacobs, certain conditions must be met before a statement made by a dead person could be tendered, including that the person must have appeared in the proceedings.

At a ruling delivered today, Justice Mojisola Olatoregun overruled the EFCC Prosecutor and held that Sections 39 and 49 of the Evidence Act make such a document admissible.
She said the issue was what weight the court would attach to the statement, and this the court would determine at a later date.

After admitting the statement, the case continued with the cross-examination of Obanikoro.

Obanikoro told the court that he supervised the account of the company, Sylvan Mcnamara Ltd’s which housed the money in issue which was received from the office of the National Security Adviser.

The money which he says came in 3 transactions were for the security of Lagos, the elections in Ekiti and the elections in Osun state.

When asked if elections matters were security matters, Obanikoro said, “matters of election can be matters of security”.

The trial was adjourned to continue on Tuesday, March 19.

You’ll Be ‘Sent To Jail’ If You Don’t Appear, Judge Warns Obanikoro

You’ll Be ‘Sent To Jail’ If You Don’t Appear, Judge Warns Obanikoro
A file photo of Senator Musiliu Obanikoro

 

A Federal High Court sitting in Lagos has ordered a former Minister of State for Defence, Senator Musiliu Obanikoro, to appear in court at the next adjourned date or he would be arrested.

Senator Obanikoro who is testifying as the fifth prosecution witness in the trial of the immediate past governor of Ekiti State, Ayo Fayose, was scheduled to continue his evidence under cross-examination on Thursday.

He, however, failed to appear in court.

The trial judge, Justice Mojisola Olatoregun, who was not pleased with the development said she would not hesitate to order Obanikoro’s arrest should he fail to appear at the next adjourned date of March 18.

“If he fails to appear, he’ll be sent to jail and they’ll be bringing him from there with Black Maria,” the judge said.

She added, “He must present himself to the court at the next adjourned date or be compelled to do so.”

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Counsel to the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC), Rotimi Jacobs had told the court that Senator Obanikoro was in the hospital.

He subsequently presented a medical report from a clinic said to be located in Ikoyi area of Lagos.

Justice Olatoregun, however, held that if the court were to take up the matter and verify the medical report, the hospital and the doctor who signed the document could lose their licence.

She said she would only permit an adjournment because of the counsel who was a very responsible member of the Bar and not because of the medical report.

“If I want to pursue it, the medical doctor may lose his license for issuing this report. But I will accept this because you (Jacobs) are a responsible member of the inner bar,” she said.

Despite the absence of the witness, the court listened to arguments on whether a statement made by Justin Erukaa, the late Special Assistant to the former governor, could be tendered and admitted as evidence, especially as he was not a party to the case.

A defence counsel, Olalekan Ojo, had argued that the statement was relevant to the case because Erukaa made the statement in the course of the investigation.

“In law, the first litmus test of admissibility is relevance. Obanikoro said in his testimony that he sent Erukaa on errands, including to collect over $1million and that he came to meet him in Ekiti,” he said.

Ojo noted further, “In law, a statement made to the EFCC in the course of an investigation is admissible in evidence without the maker being called as a witness or being a party to proceedings.

“It is not the law that a document which is not tendered through the maker is not admissible,” the Senior Advocate of Nigeria added, relying on sections 39 and 83 of the Evidence Act.

But the EFCC counsel opposed the move to tender the statement, arguing that it was not admissible in law.

He said the sections relied on by Ojo were not applicable in the circumstances, stating, “he wants to smuggle the statement in.”

According to Jacobs, certain conditions must be met before a statement made by a dead person could be tendered, including that the person must have appeared in the proceedings.

At the next adjourned date of March 18, the court would rule on whether to admit the statement in evidence.

Fayose is on trial for allegedly receiving and keeping N1.2billion and $5million said to have been stolen from the Office of the National Security Adviser, contrary to the Money Laundering Act.

He had pleaded not guilty when he was arraigned on 11 counts in October 2018.

Court To Rule Over EFCC, Obanikoro’s Right Violation Case

Court To Rule Over EFCC, Obanikoro's Right Violation CaseA Federal High Court, sitting in Lagos will on March 28, rule on whether the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC), violated the fundamental rights of Senator Musiliu Obanikoro and other members of his family when it searched and seized some documents  and property from his house.

The family’s lawyer, Lawal Pedro (SAN), said the Obanikoros contended that the EFCC violated its own law, Regulation 13 of the EFCC (Enforcement Regulation) 2010, which provides that it shall apply and obtain a court order to enter and search any premises.

Having failed to follow this procedure and obtain any court order, the Obanikoros contended that the search is unlawful and illegal.

The EFCC has however urged the court to dismiss the suit, insisting that it acted within the law.

In the Fundamental Rights Enforcement application filed on behalf of the Obanikoros by Fati Obanikoro, a daughter in-law to the Senator, the victims claimed that the forceful seizure of their personal effects constitutes a gross violation of their rights to privacy and fundamental right from compulsory possession or acquisition of move-able property.

They therefore asked the court to make an order setting aside the forceful detention of their properties last June 14.

The Obanikoros also sought an order restraining the EFCC from arresting, detaining or harassing them or entering their premises again to seize their properties.

They further demanded an “unreserved public apology”, as well as 100 million Naira as general damages.

The EFCC had claimed that Senator Obanikoro received suspicious payments from the Office of the National Security Adviser (ONSA), through companies linked to the family.

Meanwhile, the family said the documents and properties EFCC seized have nothing to do with the ONSA.

EFCC Releases Obanikoro

Musiliu Obanikoro, EFCC, Ekiti election, ObanikoroThe former Minister of State for Defence, Musiliu Obanikoro, has been released from the custody of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC).

He was released about on Friday evening, after fulfilling his bail condition which include providing two federal directors as sureties and depositing his Nigerian and American passports at the EFCC.

Senator Obanikoro last week paid the sum of 100.4 million naira to the federal government as part payment for the sum of 480 million naira he allegedly collected from the former national Security Adviser, Colonel Sambo Dasuki.

Obanikoro reported to the EFCC three months after his invitation by the anti-graft agency. He reported at an EFCC facility directly on his arrival from the United States.

He has since been in their custody while his lawyers worked assiduously to secure his release.

Mr Obanikoro has been in the United States since 2015 after the general elections, where he said he was pursuing leadership and language courses at an American university.

The 2015 election saw his party, the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), unseated at the centre.

Lawyers Working Hard To Secure Obanikoro’s Release, Says Aide

obanikoroFormer Minister of State for Defence and Foreign Affairs, Senator Musiliu Obanikoro, may regain freedom soon from the custody of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC), his spokesman says.

Mr Jonathan Eze said on Tuesday that Mr Obanikoro’s lawyers were working assiduously to secure his release.

Mr Obanikoro had reported at the anti-graft agency’s office in Lagos on Monday, where he was being interrogated over alleged graft crimes.

His spokesman said in a statement that his principal was well and that the officials of the EFCC were cooperative.

Eze said the agency was conducting its interrogations decently without any form of intimidation and harassment.

He urged the supporters of the embattled former Minister to be patient, noting that the counsels are working tirelessly to secure his release.

The statement reads in parts: “Senator Musiliu Obanikoro is still in the custody of the EFCC, but I can confirm to you that he is strong and well.

“The EFCC officials are doing their job and as at this moment, we don’t have any reason to complain.

“We are optimistic that the operatives will conclude their questioning as soon as possible so that he can go home and rest since he hasn’t rested well, owing to the stress of travelling many hours from the United States.

“We are also confident that the EFCC will not indulge in the luxury of keeping him beyond reasonable time and days, especially as he submitted himself to them without stress”.

Mr Eze added that Senator Obanikoro was not afraid of his stewardship, saying he served Nigeria creditably well and was proud of his contributions so far.

Arms Probe: Obanikoro Reports To EFCC

Musiliu Obanikoro, EFCC, Ekiti election, ObanikoroThree months after his invitation by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC), a former Minister of State for Defence, Musiliu Obanikoro, has finally reported to the anti-graft agency.

Senator Obanikoro returned to the country on Monday from the U.S. and later proceeded to an EFCC facility.

The former minister who also represented Lagos state in the Senate, had been a subject of interest to the commission in connection with alleged diversion of arms funds.

He has been accused of involvement in corrupt practices, as the anti-corruption campaign of the Muhammadu Buhari-led administration intensified with a clampdown on some public officials from the previous administration.

The EFCC has said that it has proof that Obanikoro received a total of 4.745 billion Naira from the office of the former National Security Adviser between April 4, 2014, and December 15, 2014 through companies belonging to his sons.

Mr Obanikoro has been in the United States since 2015 after the general elections, where he said he was pursuing leadership and language courses at an American university.

The 2015 election saw his party, the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), unseated at the centre.

Indictment In #EkitiElection Scandal

Obanikoro was also named in the alleged manipulation of Ekiti State’s governorship election after the emergence of an audio said to have been recorded by a military officer who was at a meeting with some PDP members.

Asides the release of the controversial audio which recorded voices purportedly of Obanikoro, Ekiti State Governor, Ayodele Fayose and other notable persons perfecting plans to rig the election, a PDP member also made headlines by tendering evidences to prove that the election was rigged in favour of the PDP.

Mr Tope Aluko gave a breakdown of how series of meetings were held before the election and listed the persons at the meeting to include former President Jonathan, former PDP Chairman, Adamu Mu’azu, Governor Fayose and himself (Aluko).

“At the meeting President Jonathan agreed that if he needed Ekiti, he would support us to ensure that we delivered.

“At the second meeting we had Obanikoro, Jelili, Omisore… It was a combination of Osun and Ekiti people and they were discussing how we were going to move to take the south-west

“Before the primaries, His Excellency, Ayodele Fayose, said that we can only win using the military. Then we came up with a plan about May,” he alleged.

He referred to the audio, which was leaked on the internet, saying it was genuine and not doctored.

Controversies trailing the role of the military in the alleged rigging of the election after the emergence of the audio have since led to the retirement of one of the indicted officers, Brigadier General Aliyu Momoh.

The Army officer was retired in line with the recommendation of the Army panel set up to look into allegation of professional misconduct against him in connection with the conduct of June 14, 2014 governorship election in Ekiti State and the 2015 general elections.

A board of inquiry led by General Officer Commanding One Division of the Nigerian Army, led by Major General Adeniyi Oyebade, indicted the senior officer and others, recommending various degrees of sanctions for them.

Xenophobia: Obanikoro Summons S/Africa’s High Commissioner

obanikoro-on-xenophobia attackThe Minister of State for Foreign Affairs, Mr Musiliu Obanikoro has summoned South Africa’s High Commissioner, Lulu Mnguni to register Nigeria’s protest over the ongoing xenophobic attacks against fellow Africans in South Africa.

Ambassador Obanikoro condemned the attacks on foreigners in South Africa, expressing concern over the fate of Nigerians and  other nationals who are migrants in the country.

The former Ambassador to Ghana added that South Africa needs to take “concrete steps to quell the unrest and bring the culprits involved to book,” to act as a deterrent and prevent further violence.

Mr Obanikoro is also asking South African authorities to compensate the victims of these attacks.

Soldiers were deployed overnight to tackle gangs hunting down and killing foreigners after at least 7 people died in the last few weeks.

Senate Postpones Ministerial Screening Of Obanikoro, Others

sen obanokoroThe Senate in Nigeria at Wednesday’s Plenary, has set aside the screening of Senator Obanikoro and four other ministerial nominees till Tuesday March 10.

President Jonathan’s nomination of Senator Obanikoro for a Ministerial appointment, had angered some opposition lawmakers in the Senate who vowed to oppose his confirmation as a Minister.

It was not, however, clear if the postponement had anything to do with their resolve to oppose the confirmation.

Before the screening commenced on Wednesday, lawmakers were said to have gone for an indoor meeting for about two hours.

A source, who requested that he should not be named, told Channels Television that the issue discussed in the private meeting was the confirmation of one of the nominees, Senator Obanikoro.

Some lawmakers have kicked against the nomination of Senator Obanikoro for Ministerial appointment.

The source told Channels Television that APC lawmakers were reluctant to shift ground in confirming Senator Obanikoro as minister.

The APC caucus in the Senate had told journalists last week that they would reject the confirmation of Senator Obanikoro as Minister.

However, a PDP lawmaker, who demanded not to be mentioned also, said the APC had no cogent reason for refusing to confirm Senator Obanikoro, as he did not commit any crime neither has he been convicted by any court.

Four Ministerial nominees were , however, screened by the Senate.

Senator Patricia Akwashiki from Nasarawa State, Professor Nicholas Ada from benue, Rtd Colonel Augustine Akobundu from Abia State and Mr Fidelis Nwankwo from Ebonyi State were those screened.

The Senate postponed the screening of Senator Musiliu Obanikoro from Lagos, Mrs Hauwa’U Lawan from Jigawa, Mr Kenneth Kobani from Rivers and Senator Joel Ikenya from Taraba State.

Their screening is expected to hold on Tuesday March 10.

Lagos PDP Primaries: Obanikoro Sues Party

ObanikoroThe dust over the conduct of the Lagos State Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) primary held on Monday has not settled.

One of the aspirants in the Lagos PDP race and a former Minister of State for Defence, Musiliu Obanikoro, has taken the party to the Federal High Court.

Obanikoro, on Saturday, told journalists and party supporters at his Lagos campaign office that the primary was a sham.

He said that he would not allow the result to stand. He described it as injustice because he feels the process was not free and fair.

“The 48 hours timeline stipulated by the PDP Elec­toral Guideline to address our appeal has elapsed with­out a response from the party.

“In the light of this develop­ment, we have proceeded to the Federal High Court, Abu­ja, to seek redress over the outcome of last Monday’s PDP primaries.

“I urge all our teeming supporters to remain stead­fast. We will pursue this to a logical conclusion and jus­tice will be done,” he said.

Obanikoro added, however, that his fight was not about his personal ambition alone but also for the sake of the people of Lagos State.

“I stand for a greater La­gos. Anything that will derail that greater Lagos, we will fight it. What we are saying is very clear. We are saying that in our party, power be­longs to the people. This fight is not about me. It is about the soul of our party,” Obanikoro stated.