Wednesday, January 25, 2017 11:25 pm
The Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, EFCC, on Wednesday, January 25, 2017 re-arraigned a former Chief of Air Staff, Air Marshal Mohammed Dikko Umar before Justice Nnamdi Dimgba of the Federal High Court sitting in Maitama, Abuja on a 7-count charge of money laundering and procurement fraud to the tune of N9.7billion.
Umar, among other things, during his tenure as Chief of Air Staff between September 2010 and October 2012, allegedly used N700million that was withdrawn from NAF account to purchase a property at No 14 Vistula Close, Off Panama Street, Maitama Abuja.
He was said to have used the Dollar equivalent of N500million removed from NAF account to also purchase a four bedroom duplex with boys’ quarters at Road 3B Street 2, Mabushi Ministers Hill, Abuja. The former NAF boss also allegedly used the US Dollar equivalent of N250million to purchase a property situated at No 14, Audu Bako Way, G.R.A. Kano, in 2011.
The offence contravenes Section 15(2) (b) of the Money Laundering Prohibition Act 2011, as amended.
One of the charges reads:
“That you, Air Marshal Mohammed Dikko Umar, whilst being the Chief of Air Staff, Nigerian Air Force between September 2010 to September 2012 in Abuja, within the jurisdiction of the court directly converted the United States Dollars equivalent of the aggregate sum of N4, 846,630,000.00 (Four billion, eight hundred and forty six million, six hundred and thirty thousand naira) only removed from the accounts of the Nigerian Air Force, when you reasonably ought to have known that the said funds formed part of the proceeds of your unlawful activity, to wit, criminal breach of trust and corruption, and you thereby committed an offence contrary Section 15(2)(b) of the Money Laundering Prohibition Act 2011 as amended and punishable under Section 15(3) of the same Act”.
Umar, who was first docked on May 11, 2016, again pleaded not guilty.
Upon his plea, Hassan Liman, SAN, applied for his release on bail. He prayed the court to allow his client to go home on self-recognition as he was previously allowed to do by Justice Binta Nyako who was in charge of the case.
Justice Dimgba ordered that the defendant should continue with the earlier bail condition and produce two sureties of either civil servant or business men with a landed property at any satellite area in Abuja. The defendant is to also surrender his international passports to the court.
The judge added that failure to meet up with the bail terms within a week will result to the defendant being remanded in prison custody.
The case has been adjourned to February 13 and 14, 2016 for commencement of trial.
Badeh Paid Me to Build Churches, Mosque –Witness
The trial of a former Chief of Defence Staff, Air Marshal Alex S. Badeh and his company, Iyalikam Nigeria Limited, continued on Wednesday, January 25, 2016, before Justice Okon Abang of the Federal High Court Maitama, Abuja with the cross-examination of Joseph Okpetu, a prosecution witness, who insisted that he was contracted to renovate churches, build a mosque and a civic centre for the defendant.
Okpetu, while answering questions by Badeh’s counsel, Akin Olujimi, SAN, admitted that though he collected N100million for construction of a civic centre, churches and mosque, he did not confirm the source of the money.
“With respect to evidence given about the construction of the civic centre, church and mosque which I was paid N100million for, I did not confirm the source of the money. The person who called me had told me that the payment was for the three projects. The payment was made into my account by Mafosa Mafosa Limited,” he said.
He stated that the land for the civic centre was given and shown to his company by the chiefs of Badeh’s village. He added that the land for the construction of the mosque was also given by the village and the church was built on the premises of a Catholic church within the village.
Responding to questions on the ‘Mohammed Fufure project’, the witness said that he was not around most of the time to know if Mohammed Fufure visited the site, but said his workers always gave him reports on site situations and visits.
Under re-examination, Rotimi Jacobs, SAN, counsel to the EFCC, while relying on Section 215 (3) of the Evidence Act, asked Okpetu to clarify the ambiguity which arose during cross-examination regarding whether or not he was forced by EFCC operatives to write in his statement, Exhibit T89, that money was paid into his account by NAF.
This was contested by Olujimi and counsel to the second defendant, S.T. Ologoorisha, SAN, who argued that there was no ambiguity.
Justice Abang however ruled that it was in the interest of justice for the witness to answer the question put to him.
Responding, Okpetu said, “When I was asked by the EFCC about the N50million paid into my account for the renovation of Badeh’s house in the village post-insurgency, I was requested to present all the account statements of my companies.
“It was my intention to write that I did not know the source of the money but they (the operatives) told me that from my account statements, it was evident that the money came from NAF”, Okpetu added.
Thereafter, the case was adjourned to January 26, 2017 for continuation of trial.