EFCC detains Obanikoro, quizzes 2 federal high court judges

THE immediate past Minister of State for Defence, Senator Musiliu Obanikoro, who was declared wanted by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) on Monday, reported to the Abuja headquarters of the commission to answer allegations levelled against him.

Obanikoro, who has been staying in the United States of America (USA) since the end of the administration of President Goodluck Jonathan, under whom he served as a minister, came to an end in May,  last year.

The former minister, who is a chieftain of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) in Lagos State, prior to his appearance at the anti-graft commission on Monday, had been having a running battle with the commission over allegations of financial crimes.

The commission had searched Obanikoro’s house in Ikoyi, Lagos, following claims that the former minister used his sons to siphon public fund using their company, Sylvan McNamara.

The commission also alleged that Obanikoro played vital roles in the build up to the 2014 governorship election in Ekiti State, which was won by Ayodele Fayose of the PDP.

He was said to have been involved in air lifting of N1.29 billion from the office of the former National Security Adviser, Colonel Sambo Dasuki, out of the N4.745 billion arms funds between April 4, 2014 and December 15, 2014.

The money, it was alleged, was meant to compromise the governorship election in favour of the then PDP candidate, Ayodele Fayose.

The Nigerian Tribune learnt that Obanikoro, who had sometimes ago said he was not going to return to the country, arrived Lagos on Monday morning and proceeded to Abuja to report at the anti-graft commission’s office.

A source at the commission confirmed to the Nigerian Tribune that the former minister came to the commission’s office in company with some lawyers and introduced himself at the entrance of the operations section of EFCC at Idiagbon House and was ushered in to an office in the unit.

Obanikoro’s arrival to face interrogators was confirmed by one of the operatives near the main entrance to the Idiagbon House.

In a related development, two judges of the Federal High Court, Mohammed Nasir Yunusa and Hyeladzira Ajiya Nganjiwa, on Monday, honoured EFCC’s the invitation today.

A source informed that the judges arrived at the EFCC’s Lagos office at about 10:05 a.m.

The anti-corruption commission, had, last week, informed that it was investigating eight judges and two court registrars, saying that some of them, who had been invited by the commission, had made useful statements, which had been of great assistance to the investigations.

The Nigerian Tribune learnt that Justices Yunusa and Nganjiwa were invited following EFCC’s discovery of allegations bordering on bribery and money laundering during investigations in an ongoing case in which two senior lawyers, Rickey Tarfa  and Joseph Nwobike, had already been arraigned in court.

EFCC had arraigned both Tarfa and Nwobike before a Lagos High Court on March 9, 2016 for allegations of bribery and offering gratification to a public official.

Both senior lawyers are facing criminal prosecution for allegedly offering gratification to Federal High Court judges to refrain them from exercising duties of their office.

The source informed that EFCC’s subsequent investigation revealed that the two judges allegedly received sums of money from both Tarfa and Nwobike severally.

As of the time of filing this report, it was not certain if the judges would be allowed to go home as they were still being interrogated by operatives of the commission.