Fayose reveals Zenith Bank sponsored his election, but why?
Embattled Governor of Ekiti State, Ayodele Fayose, has denied ever receiving any funds in any form from the Office of the National Security Adviser (ONSA) under Col Sambo Dasuki (rtd) or the former Minister of State for Defence, Senator Musiliu Obanikoro, for the purpose of his 2014 election campaign.
In a statement signed by his Chief Press Secretary, Idowu Adelusi, Mr. Fayose said his election was funded by Zenith Bank Plc, fundraising, donations from friends and associates, as well as sales of campaign souvenirs.
He challenged the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) to publish statements made by Mr. Obanikoro, his son or any other person associated with money from the NSA where they claimed they gave him money for the election.
“EFCC is only acting a movie scripted, produced and directed by the All Progressives Congress (APC) government of President Muhammadu Buhari just to silence me being a major opposition voice in the country,” he said.
On the alleged involvement of President Buhari’s wife, Aisha Buhari, in the Halliburton scam, the governor challenged the president’s wife to visit the United States of America to convince Nigerians that she was not the Aisha Buhari mentioned in the judgment convicting William Jefferson.
He argued that while the President has visited USA three times, his wife did not travel with him, and that when she was to have visited the country last September to chair a United Nations activity, she sent Mrs. Toyin Saraki, the wife of the Senate President, to represent her.
He explained that his election campaign was principally funded by the management of Zenith Bank, and had called him to a meeting where he was assured that funds would be provided for his election, and was asked to nominate a trusted ally to be related with, for which he nominated Mr. Abiodun Agbele.
“All the payments into Abiodun Agbele’s account domiciled in Zenith Bank were directly from Zenith Bank. In actual fact, the account was opened by Zenith Bank hurriedly at that time and Abiodun Agbele’sidentity card which ought to have been collected before the account was opened was only collected last week in the bank’s desperation to perfect the account obviously after submitting to the intimidation and harassment of the EFCC.
He explained that most of the funds posted into Agbele’s account were through the Ibadan, Akure and Lagos branches of the Zenith Bank, but that the bank sometimes simply “brought cash”.
The statement did not say why a commercial bank was funding an election campaign, sometimes with cash, and what the terms of the arrangement were.
“Assuming but not conceding that cash moved from Lagos to Akure as being claimed by the EFCC in its usual manner of media trial, was meant for my election in Ekiti, why was the cash not moved to Ado Ekitibranch of Zenith Bank or the cash handed to me directly? Why was it deposited into Zenith Bank, Akure and did the bank make any report on the transaction to the appropriate authorities? Why did the bank send its bullion van to move the money from Akure Airport to their Akure branch if it was illegal money?”
He categorically denied any financial link with Obanikoro, affirming that he knew that the former Minister has not and cannot mention his name as a beneficiary of any money, or that any company in which he has interest could have obtained from the ONSA if truly Obanikoro collected money from the ONSA, as being claimed by the EFCC.
He threatened to name names if “those” persons who he said had willingly provided money for his election can no longer stand by what they did, probably on account of threats from the EFCC.
The governor also challenged the EFCC to beam its searchlights on the funding of APC elections, especially that of President Buhari.
“Since we are now in the era in which financial assistance from Nigerians to fund elections is being criminalised, the international community, especially those funding EFCC must insist that the commission probes the funding of APC elections before further funds are released to the commission,” he declared.
“Most importantly, Nigerians are interested in the $60 million allegedly donated to the APC campaign by Sahara Energy, on which EFCC has been forced to suspend investigation,” the governor stated.
He said it was obvious that he has become the main headache of President Buhari’s government, adding; “What they are doing now is part of their grand plots to intimidate and harass me into submission but I am not someone that can be cowed by threats of incarceration and death.
“I advise that they should keep their gun powder dry and wait till the end of my tenure in 2018 and I want to assure them that I will be available to answer any of their questions, no matter how unreasonable.
“Furthermore, Nigerians should know that I have been persecuted by the EFCC before, using phantom N1.2 billion poultry scam and I came out victorious. I was not only acquitted, I got N10 million judgment against the EFCC and my impeachment that was orchestrated by the EFCC was quashed by the Supreme Court.
“Nigerians should recall that it was part of this plot to get back at me because of my critical stance on Buhari’s government that the Ekiti State House of Assembly was invaded by men of the Department of State Service (DSS), placement of travel ban on me and lately, illegal frozen of my account by the EFCC.”
He pledged, “in the overall interest of democracy and well-being of Nigerians,” that he will continue to speak his mind on issues bordering on governance in Nigeria, vowing that he will not be intimidated.