Moroophat Onikoro, the wife of a former minister of state for defence, Musiliu Obanikoro has been arrested by Nigeria’s secret police, the Department of State for Security Services, DSS.
For some time, the Nigerian authorities have continued to mention Mr. Obanikoro, an American citizen, in matters of campaign funding allegedly from the office of the national security adviser. He has been in the United States since June 2015 away from the reach of the Nigeria’s anti-graft commission, the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, EFCC.
On Thursday, July 14, 2016, the Nigerian secret police arrested Alhaja Onikoro, whisking her away from their Ikoyi residence. Punch, reports an anonymous security source calling her “the suspect” and saying she was arrested “in front of her husband’s house” at Parkview Estate, Ikoyi, “in connection with the N4.7 billion allegedly diverted from the office of the former National Security Adviser, Sambo Dasuki”.
“We arrested Alhaja Onikoro this morning. Although she bears Onikoro, she is the wife of Obanikoro. She was arrested with some vital documents. She is currently in our office in Shangisha, Lagos, and will later be transferred to the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission for more investigation,” the source said.
Another anonymous EFCC source told the newspaper that Alhaja Onikoro was later transferred to their office in Ikoyi where she was interrogated and allowed to go home. She is expected to return on Friday (today).
“We released her after interrogation. The woman co-operated fully with us and we allowed her to go because we don’t hold people hostage. We asked her questions and she answered respectfully,” the EFCC operative is quoted as saying.
In June, the EFCC raided the ex-minister’s house and carted away cars, wristwatches, documents, and other possessions of the Obanikoros.
According to other reports, anti-graft agency has also seized Banana Island real estates belonging to Obanikoro’s two sons, Babajide and Gbolahan.
Obanikoro’s wife, who was in the house at the time of the search, alleged that her rights were abused and had even sued the EFCC for N100 million damages.
“When she sued the EFCC, she thought that would be the end of the matter. Unknown to her, we kept surveillance on the house and swiftly arrested her with the evidence we needed,” an EFCC source said.
EFCC leaks say that their investigations have revealed that N4.7 billion was paid from the office of the national security adviser into the bank account of Sylvan McNamara, a company owned by the two sons of Obanikoro. About N1.219 billion was allegedly flown to Akure on a private jet in the build-up to the 2014 Ekiti State governorship election, which was won by Governor Ayodele Fayose.
Fayose was alleged to have received the N1.219 billion through his close friend, Abiodun Agbele, while Iyiola Omisore, a former PDP governorship candidate in Osun State, allegedly received N1.310bn through company accounts said to belong to him. Omisore has been arrested by the EFCC.
Obanikoro and his two sons, all American citizens, are in the United States. He denies involvement in money laundering and says the EFCC is “making up evidence” against him and his family. He has dared the Nigerian government to extradite him if they have evidence against him.
The Muhammadu Buhari administration has been accused of witch-hunting members of the opposition, People’s Democratic Party and their leaders in a skewed anti-corruption fight.