Despite the ban on 50 persons under investigations for fraud exceeding N50m from travelling by the government of president Muhammadu Buhari, a former Minister of State for Defence, Senator Musiliu Obanikoro, has travelled out of the country after retrieving his passports from the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC).
Mr. Obanikoro has travelled to the US for medical check-up, with no return date given, the Punch authoritatively reports.
An impeccable source in the EFCC told the newspaper that Obanikoro, who has an American passport and a Nigerian one, met certain conditions before his passports were returned to him.
He said, “Obanikoro was able to return over N100m out of the money he received from Dasuki. He showed genuine commitment to returning more money and assist the EFCC with investigations and his passports were returned to him.
“The fact that the commission returned the passports to him does not mean that he has been cleared.”
The former junior minister has been under investigation since 2016 for allegedly receiving N4.7bn from the embattled former National Security Adviser, Col. Sambo Dasuki (retd.), in 2014.
It is alleged that Mr. Obanikoro handed over about N1.3bn to former Governor Ayodele Fayose of Ekiti State and another N1.3bn to the then Peoples Democratic Party governorship candidate in Osun State in 2014, Senator Iyiola Omisore.
Obanikoro had defected to the All Progressives Congress from the PDP.
Also Mr. Omisore, who had helped the ruling APC win the Osun State governorship rerun in September, had also recovered his passport from the EFCC.
The former senator was arrested by the EFCC in 2016 for allegedly receiving money from Dasuki through Obanikoro.
He reportedly returned N300m to the EFCC but his passport was seized by the commission.
Prveiously Omisore had written to the EFCC, requesting that his passport be returned to him so that he could travel for medical treatment but his request was not granted.
But, according to the Punch, Mr. Omisore, who recently contested the governorship election of Osun State on the platform of the Social Democratic Party, entered into an undisclosed agreement with the APC when the election was declared inconclusive.
He reportedly entered into a series of understanding with the APC leadership to support the APC candidate in the poll, Gboyega Oyetola.
It was during the negotiations with the leadership of the APC that Omisore reportedly recovered his passport from the anti-graft agency.
Meanwhile Omisore’s media aide, Mr. Jide Fakorede, had said recently that his boss was no longer under investigation by the EFCC and that he was free to travel.
He had said, “Senator Iyiola Omisore was wrongly accused in 2016 and he surrendered himself to the EFCC for investigation and was given a ‘clean bill of health’ by the anti-graft body after a thorough investigation.
“It is on record that no case was instituted against him in any court of our land and neither was he arraigned before any court either. He has been enjoying his freedom and has even presented himself for election into public office passing through all security screenings. So we ask, what is the noise about?
“The basis for placement on the watch list and travel ban is to ensure that those answering EFCC charges are held within the country and for someone not having a current case with the anti-graft agency, there may be no basis to restrict his movement.”
Efforts to get an EFCC response to the recent developments were unsuccessful as at the time of going to press.
While Obanikoro is allowed to leave the country, the EFCC has slammed five charges against former Governor Fayose.
Mr. Fayose is expected to be arraigned in Lagos this week for allegedly receiving money from Dasuki through Obanikoro.