Eniola Akinkuotu and Tobi Aworinde
An official of Diamond Bank, Damola Otuyalo, has told officials of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission that he personally handed over N1.2bn to a former Minister of State for Defence, Senator Musiliu Obanikoro, and his son, Gbolahan.
The entire exercise was said to have been captured on a Closed Circuit Television.
According to the EFCC, the N1.2bn was part of the N4.7bn paid into the company account of Obanikoro’s sons by the Office of the National Security Adviser during the build-up to the Ekiti and Osun states governorship election in 2014.
Otuyalo, who is the Head of Cash-in-Transit Services, told detectives that his duty was to evacuate excess cash from bank’s branches and move it to locations where money was needed.
The bank official told investigators that on June 16, 2014, he received a call from the Head of Operations and Technology, Mr. Premier Oiwoh, to arrange N1.2bn and pay six beneficiaries.
He said he was asked to pay the following persons: Saturaki Bello N200m; Yusuf Bulama N120m; Chimenum Njoku N250m; Franklin Tolani N150m; Josiah Moses N280; and Abubakar Sadiq Zanna N200m.
Otuyalo, however, explained that he was unable to pay them the money and that his director then instructed him to move the N1.2bn to the private wing of the Murtala Muhammed Airport, Lagos on June 17.
The bank official was quoted to have said, “The beneficiaries were not available to be paid as I did not see them and I was later directed by Mr. Premier Oiwoh to move the money to the airport where I will be given further instruction.
“We moved the cash to the airport through the Cash-In-Transit vendor, Bankers Warehouse Limited. I contacted the vendor who made the bullion van available for movement. I personally supervised the loading of the money into the bullion van and escorted them to the airport.”
Otuyalo said on getting to the airport around 7am, he was not allowed into the private wing because he and the security detail did not have a gate pass.
He said a few minutes later, Obanikoro’s son came to the main gate and asked the security to let the bullion van in.
The bank official further stated, “When Gbolahan got to the gate, he cleared us and we drove in. My boss, Mr. Premier Oiwoh, called me on the telephone and confirmed to me that Obanikoro was the beneficiary of the money.
“I handed my phone over to Gbolahan and he spoke to my boss. Obanikoro came to meet us at the private wing with two policemen and some friends. I recognised Obanikoro very well because he is popular.”
Otuyalo told detectives that due to the large amount of money involved, it took them several hours to offload the cash unto the aeroplane.
He explained that it took three aeroplanes to carry all the money.
Otuyalo added, “We loaded the first aircraft with money and Obanikoro flew with his friends on the first flight. The second aircraft was loaded with money but it could not carry all the cash due to the size of the aircraft and the weight it could carry.
“I recall that another aircraft was also used to move the final batch of the money from the bullion van. The second and third movements were supervised by Gbolahan after Obanikoro had left with the first flight.
“The operation took several hours because we got to the airport around 7am and left around 4pm. The cash was bagged in cash bags totalling about 65 and everything was offloaded from the bullion van after which I reported to my boss, Mr. Oiwoh.”
Detectives told our correspondent that the N1.2bn was flown to Akure Airport and Obanikoro allegedly handed over the money to an associate of Ekiti State Governor, Ayodele Fayose, Mr. Abiodun Agbele, who had since been detained by the EFCC.
He added that Officials of Zenith Bank arrived at the Akure Airport tarmac in a bullion van to convey all the cash to the bank’s vault located at 13, Alagbaka Estate, Akure.
He also said that the detective, who presented bank tellers, added that Agbele gave the bank instructions at different times to pay in money into Fayose’s Zenith Bank account even after the elections.
He added, “Agbele directed the bank to pay N137m into the account of Ayodele Fayose with number 1003126654 and Bank Verification Number 22338867502. The bank teller dated June 26, 2014, was filled by Agbele with teller number 0556814.
“Agbele directed the bank to transfer N118, 760, 000 to the same account and paid in N50m cash into Fayose’s account.
“On April 7, 2015, several months later, Fayose personally moved N300m to his fixed deposit account at Zenith Bank with number 9013074033 with his same BVN. The account is domiciled at 15 Olusola Abiona Street, Estate, Alapere, Ketu, Lagos.”
The source added that on the instruction of Fayose, Agbele deposited N100m to the account of Spotless Investment Limited, a hotel which is owned by Fayose and his wife, Olayemi.
Fayose allegedly used part of the money to buy houses in Abuja and Lagos. The houses had since been seized while his bank account with a balance of N380m was frozen.
Both Fayose and Obanikoro have denied the allegations levelled against them.
One of Obanikoro’s media aides, Mr. Jonathan Eze, told one of our correspondents on Saturday that he was driving and would call back. He was yet to do so as of press time.
When contacted, Head, Media Relations/Corporate Communications of Diamond Bank, Mr. Mike Omeife, told one of our correspondents that he could not confirm the report.
He said, “I have not been able to confirm from the unit what he (Otuyalo) said. I need to get the information from the unit; I need to get clarifications, and will then, get back to you.
“This is weekend. I need to get authentic information from the unit before speaking to you.”Copyright PUNCH.