Fayose’s election funding: Questions begging for answers

IN the last few days, among national political issues that have dominated the news media are the freezing of the personal accounts of Ekiti State governor, Mr Ayodele Fayose and the brouhaha that followed the reasons given by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) for placing a lid on the governor’s personal account. The other issue is the sponsorship of the election of the governor in 2014 by Zenith Bank Plc and other well-meaning individuals.

Thank God that those who wrote the 1999 Constitution did not lace it with ambiguities, as to the responsibilities of each tier of government and  the protection offered public officers against certain things among others.

It was Fayose who raised the alarm that his account and those of some of his associates have been frozen on the orders of the anti-graft agency without any court orders or those involved being invited for questioning by the EFCC. The governor, while stating his own side of the story, said the account is domiciled with Zenith Bank Plc and that as a serving governor, he enjoys immunity under Section 308 of the 1999 Constitution as amended.

The EFCC later came out with the story that a former Minister of State for Defence, Senator Musiliu Obanikoro, and some people floated a firm through which the sum of N4.7 billion was collected from the Office of the National Security Adviser over a period of eight months.

Page 8 of The Punch newspaper of Wednesday, June 22, 2016, has the story with the headline ‘N4.7 billion arms funds traced to Obanikoro, Fayose- EFCC’. Let’s quote paragraphs 2-6 of the said story.

“The EFCC, which has frozen the bank accounts of the Ekiti State governor, Mr Ayodele Fayose, and the account of a company belonging to the two sons of a former Minister of State for Defence, Musiliu Obanikoro, said it had recovered evidence of the alleged illegal transactions from the banks.

“The bank tellers and other relevant documents, which were made available to The Punch, showed that the alleged scam took place between April 4, 2014 and December 15, 2014, when a total of N4.745bn was paid into the Diamond Bank account of Sylvan McNamara.

“A document, made available to one of our correspondents showed that Sylvan McNamara was incorporated in November 2011, with the following people as directors; Ikenna Ezekwe, Idowu Oshodi and Elizabeth Adeniyi.

“However, the company, on May 7, 2012, passed a resolution that it should open an account at Diamond Bank and have the following persons as signatories – Gbolahan Obanikoro, Babajide Obanikoro, Ikenna Ezekwe and Theresa Matuluko.”

The questions to ask here are: What is the relationship between Fayose and this company? From the account by the EFCC up till today, there is no connection between Fayose and the company. The other question is that, did the company play any role in the governor’s election? Up until this moment, the EFCC has not provided any answer too, and the company has not said it was involved.

Moreover, Senator Obanikoro, the prime factor in Sylvan McNamara issue, is not in Nigeria presently. He issued a statement when agents of EFCC allegedly raided his residence to say nobody could extradite him from the United States where he stays now. Then, where did EFCC get any tip off that could have linked Fayose to the N4.7bn paid into the firm’s account?

So far, EFCC appears to have relied on a statement made by an expelled member of the Ekiti State Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), Temitope Aluko, who was the state secretary at the time of the said election. This can be confirmed going through what he said on a private radio station, Adaba FM, based  in Akure, Ondo State after he had testified in camera before the General Oyebade Military Panel that probed the role of some military officers in the Ekiti, Osun and Rivers states elections. What he said is verifiable and some dailies even wrote stories from it.

That Obanikoro supported Fayose during the election is not unexpected because he, like Fayose, is a chieftain of the PDP. The revelation by Fayose that Zenith Bank Plc, sales of souvenirs and support from friends and well-wishers were means through which he got funds for the election is the issue that antagonists of the governor have been trying to pooh-pooh and they are making strident effort to link Fayose to the arms probe of Colonel Sambo Dasuki as the National Security Adviser (NSA). They want to convince Nigerians Obanikoro, who supported Fayose as a Defence Minister, probably did that with money from Dasuki.

Why are they making efforts to link Fayose to Dasukigate? It is to have a means of arresting some aides of Fayose, members of the state executive council and members of the Ekiti State House of Assembly, all in the bid to get the governor removed from office.

If the money said to have been taken to Akure Airport in The Punch story was meant for Fayose’s election, why did the bank bullion vans take the money to the Akure branch of the bank and not straight to Fayose in Ado-Ekiti?

Fayose has repeatedly said the bank was the major sponsor of his election and to confirm this, a team from the bank came on Thursday, June 23, 2016 to beg him over the matter. The team was led by an Executive Director, Mr Shola Oladipupo and it comprised two zonal managers and the Ado-Ekiti branch manager of the bank. The drama and other things related to the visit are now in public domain.

The onus now lies on the bank to tell the world where it got the money it gave to Fayose from.

Providing answers to the knotty questions associated with the funding of the election will help in separating facts from fictions and facts from political propaganda.

  • Alade writes from Ekiti.