The Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) on Friday, May 25 2018, first laid the foundation for subsequent series of allegations that the All Progressives Congress (APC) funded the election of Kayode Fayemi, its candidate in the Ekiti State governorship election, with the recovered funds looted by the late Sani Abacha.
Gboyega Oguntuase, Ekiti State Chairman of the PDP, made the claim in a press release issued to journalists in Ado Ekiti, the state capital.
On Thursday, July 12, Lere Olayinka, Director, Media and Publicity of the Kolapo Olusola Campaign Organisation, made a more audacious claim: the Buhari-led Federal Government was funding the July 14 election with N2.5bn and another $50m — the equivalent of N15.3billion, allegedly part from the $321million recovered from Abacha’s indiscretion.
Olayinka claimed that the N2.5 billion was withdrawn by the Kebbi State government from a United Bank for Africa (UBA) account in Wuse Zone 4, Abuja, and thereafter flown to Akure, capital of Ondo State.
“After offloading the huge cash, the bullion van first moved to the Ondo State Government House in Akure, from where they left for Isan Ekiti, the hometown of Fayemi.” Olayinka claimed.
This was widely reported by reputable national newspapers, including this website.
As proof of this claim, Olayinka, on his verified Twitter account, uploaded pictures of two blue vans parked closely to a JED aircraft.
Along with the pictures, he tweeted: “Here are two bullion vans in Akure Airport, loading cash brought by the FG for the Ekiti election. This happened last Saturday. APC-led FG says it is fighting corruption but using public funds on @kfayemi’s election in Ekiti.”
Saharareporters fact-checked the released picture to know if it is substantial proof of PDP’s claims.
JED Air, a courier company, confirmed to Saharareporters that it owned the aircraft in the picture uploaded by Olayinka, and that it frequents Akure airport either to pick items or to make deliveries. However, contrary to Olayinka’s claim that the picture was taken “last Saturday” — July 7th, 2018 — the Operations Manager of JED Air said the airline does not fly on weekends.
“Negative… we don’t operate on weekends,” Michael Olaoje, JED Air’s Operations Manager, told Saharareporters.
Although the airline could not confirm if the pictures uploaded by Olayinka were taken at Akure Airport as claimed, Saharareporters gathered that JED Air flies to a number of places both locally and internationally.
Explaining why bullion vans were at the terminal, Olaoje said: “You cannot tell that it is money because of the bullion van. While that might be true, we also move sensitive materials for the Independent National Electoral commission (INEC).
“The setting in these pictures show that it is a very important material that is being moved but it will be erroneous to say for a fact that it is money. It could be other sensitive government materials.”
Similarly, a senior security official who requested not to be named because he had no authority to speak with the press, explained that many times, cargoes are containerized, making it impossible for just anybody to know the content.
“At the departure, the cargo will be screened, no doubt, but the screening does not reveal what is inside the container,” he said. “It will only tell you the state of the content. An example, if it is liquid, the scanner would tell you it is liquid but it would not tell you the type of liquid. That is, you won’t know if it is water or soft drink.”
Inibehe Effiong, a lawyer, said the picture has no probative value.
“It is impossible to determine what is going on in the picture” Effiong said. “Are they putting something inside the van or are they taking something out of the van? What is the thing they are taking out? The picture and even the video I saw cannot answer any of these questions.
“At best, it could be a circumstantial evidence but even at that it needs to be cogent, complete and unequivocal. It must be able to lead to a compelling conclusion. In my opinion, the picture on its own cannot prove that the Federal Government was moving in money to fund the Ekiti election. It cannot even sufficiently prove that it was money that is being moved.”
In conclusion, one can — on the merit of the pictures — at best deduce that two vans were packed close to an aircraft in a terminal. The picture does not reveal if things were being moved out neither did it reveal what the purpose of the content might be. Hence, Olayinka’s pictorial evidence is not compelling enough to prove his accusation.