By Our Correspondent
A pilot, Capt. Ahmed Bashir Borodo has recounted how he flew a former Minister of State for Defence, Mr. Musiliu Obanikoro with N1.299 billion cash for the Governor of Ekiti State, Mr. Ayodele Fayose during his governorship campaign.
Sources within the Economic Financial and other Crimes Commission (EFCC) told BLACKFACE that Borodo said the cash was wrapped with heavy green military tarpaulin bags before it was loaded into the aircraft, with number chartered aircraft with Registration No: HS125-800 5N-BMT belonging toÂ Gyro Air Limited.
Under interrogation, Borodo said the bags were heavy to the extent that only three people could carry them at once.
Corroborating Borodoâ€™s story on Sunday, the General Manager of Gyro Air Limited, Mr. Jide West disclosed that about $25, 200 was paid for the two chartered flights from Lagos to Akure and Akure to Abuja.
Their interrogation forms part of the on-going probe of Fayose for allegedly receiving the N1.299billion slush funds from the ex-Minister through his associate, Abiodun Agbele.
About N4.745billion was paid into Obanikoroâ€™s company, Sylva Mcnamara by the Office of the National Security Adviser (ONSA) for Ekiti governorship poll in 2014.
The slush funds had beenÂ traced by EFCCÂ to Obanikoro,Â Fayose, three firmsÂ and a former Deputy Governor of Osun State, Otunba Iyiola Omisore.
Taking his turn, Capt. Borodo said he only flew the plane in line with the directive of his airline management.
He said: â€œOn the 17th June 2014, I was advised around 0700 hours by my Flight Operations Department that we would be operating a chartered flight to Akure from Lagos with estimated departure time of 0830 hours.
“The client was Musiliu Obanikoro, Minister of State for Defence at that time.
“I arrived at the airport at about 0730 hours to prepare for the flight along with my colleague, Captain Olubiyi Famuyiwa and cabin attendant Uyi Okoro. Minutes later, the minister aides came to the aircraft with some bullion vans. They started offloading the contents, which were big green tarpaulin bags. Military bags precisely.
“The ADC to the minister was dressed in Navy uniform. This is all I can state now.”
When we noticed that only about three people could carry the bags because of the weight. We told them that because of the weight,Â we told them that because of the weigh, we could only takeÂ about eight to nine bags.
The minister who had disembarkedÂ at that time from his vehicle pleaded with us but we said our aircraft was too small to carry all the bags. We therefore loaded the bags. The minister, his ADC and a friend boarded the aircraft and we departed to Akure , Ondo State.
â€œ When we arrived at Akure Airport, some soldiers came and there was a bullion van as well to carry the baggage. We departed empty to Lagos on the 17/06/14. On the 18th of June 2014, we were sent from Abuja to Akure to pick Mr. Musiliu Obanikoro and take him to Abuja. He boarded without any luggage with his ADC and we proceeded to Abuja to drop him.â€
On his part, the General Manager of Gyro Air Limited, Mr. Jide West gave insights into how the chartered flight service was procured at $25,200.
He said: “On the 15/16 of June 2014, Lt. Adewale O Eruka called me for a flight to Akure scheduled for 17th and 18th of June 2014 on the instruction of Musiliu Obanikoro. I contacted operationÂ and the flight was carried out as detailed below: 17/6/14 – Lagos – Akure – Lagos
â€œI was informed that they carried the bags to Akure with some passengers as indicated in the manifest.
On 18/6/14 , the flight wasÂ Abuja – Akure â€“ Abuja toÂ pick up the passengers from Akure back to Abuja. The aircraft was empty from Abuja but brought the passengers back to Abuja. Passengers as indicated in the manifest.
â€œThe flights were paid for. $25,200 was paid for both flights and this was arranged by Lt. Adewale. The crew on the flight on both occasions were: 1. Capt. â€˜Biyi Famuyiwa whose service has been terminated by Gyro Air Ltd; 2. Ahmed Borodo the second pilot who accompanied me to EFCC today; and 3. Uyi Okoro the cabin crew who resigned her appointment from Gyro for further studies abroad. Resignation and termination letters attached.
â€œI also have a text on my phone dated 19/6/14 from Lt. Adewale detailing how payment will be made for the chartered service.â€
As at press time, there were indications that some officials from FAAN, NCAA and NAMA may appear before the EFCC which is intensifying its probe of Fayose.
â€œWe are likely to invite more people for interrogation, â€œa top source added.
The EFCC at the weekend sealed off six choice duplexes belonging to Fayose, a development which has caused disquiet in the camp of the governor.
The duplexes, worth N1.350billion include four in Lagos and two in Abuja which were bought through his associate, Abiodun Agbele and Fayoseâ€™s sister. Mrs. Moji Ladeji.
The sister has however gone to the Federal High Court in Ado-Ekiti to file claims that one of the Abuja duplexes legally belong to her.
According to findings, preliminary investigation by the EFCC indicated that the said houses were bought with slush funds including the alleged diversion of the N1.219billion smuggled to Fayose by former Minister of Defence, Mr. Musiliu Obanikoro and kickback cash from contractors
The operatives of the anti-graft commission have located and marked the duplexes as follows: 44, Osun Crescent and 32, Yedseram Street in Maitama, Abuja; and houses 3, 4, 6, and 9 in Plot 100, Tiamiyu Savage Street, Victoria Island, Lagos.
It was gathered that the EFCC had traced how the funds were wired to pay for these duplexes.
According to a document, while the duplex in Osun Crescent was allegedly bought for N200million from Skye Bank Plc, the one located in Yedseram Street in Abuja was purchased at N270million from a businessman, Rabi Kundili.
All the houses in Lagos were paid for by Abiodun Agbele, the detained associate of the governor who is currently under investigation.