Alleged N22.8bn Fraud: Witness Testifies Against Amosu, Others
An Investigator of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC), Tosin Owobo, has told a Federal High Court sitting in Lagos that some of the funds allegedly diverted from the Nigerian Air Force (NAF) were meant for the purchase of aviation fuel and for “operations” related to fighting the Boko Haram insurgency.
He revealed this on Tuesday while testifying in the trial of a former Chief of Air Staff, Air Marshal Adesola Amosu (rtd), and some others.
The others are a former NAF Chief of Accounts and Budgeting, Air Vice Marshal Jacob Adigun, and a former NAF Director of Finance and Budget, Air Commodore Olugbenga Gbadebo.
The EFCC accused them of converting about N22.8bn from the Air Force through various companies, namely Delfina Oil and Gas Ltd, Mcallan Oil and Gas Ltd, Hebron Housing and Properties Company Ltd, Trapezites BDC, Fonds and Pricey Ltd, Deegee Oil and Gas Ltd, Timsegg Investment Ltd, and Solomon Health Care Ltd.
In his testimony during the continuation of their trial on Tuesday, the EFFC investigator said the funds were transferred from the Ministry of Defence to the NAF operation account with various descriptions, including “Operation Lafia Dole.”
He said a team of eight operatives from the anti-graft agency, including himself, investigated the sources of funds which flowed into NAF operation account.
Owobo disclosed that there were inflows of N1billion on January 17, 2013; N100million on May 15, 2013, and N18.6million on June 12, 2013, from the Ministry of Defence Headquarters.
Cross-examining the witness, counsel to the former Air Chief, Bolaji Ayorinde, asked, “While doing analysis during your investigations, did you discover what purpose the inflow was meant for?”
In his response, the witness said, “After we began our investigations, the NAF officers we had a discussion with told us that money paid into this account was for operational activities.”
Ayorinde further inquired, “Did you ask the Ministry of Defence why the N1billion was paid from the Ministry?” while Owobo responded that he cannot remember.
Asked if he knew what the N18.6 million was also meant for, the EFCC investigator said they did not inquire.
Owobo also claimed that another former Chief of Air Staff, Air Marshal Alex Badeh (rtd), was among those interviewed during the investigation and that he made a statement.
Ayorinde then asked that Badeh’s statement, which was not frontloaded, be provided, stressing that he needed the statement for his client’s defence.
The prosecuting counsel, Rotimi Oyedepo, then prayed that the matter be stood down for 20 minutes to enable him to get Badeh’s statement.
He also opposed Ayorinde’s application for an adjournment, saying it would further delay the case.
However, all the other lawyers on the defence team rejected the application for a stand-down, insisting it was better to adjourn the case.
In his ruling, Justice Mohammed Idris held, “Section 36 of the Constitution guarantees the right to fair hearing, which means that the rights and interests of parties to a dispute before the court should be protected.”
“Where a party to a criminal trial has applied for documents in the possession of the state to enable him to prepare adequately for his defence, the state has a duty to make available to that party, duly certified copies of the documents upon payment of the required legal fees.
“In the interest of justice, I think it is more convenient to adjourn in line with the provisions of the Administration of Criminal Justice Act. I know that while justice delayed is justice denied, justice rushed is justice crushed. We shall adjourn in the interest of justice.”
The matter was consequently adjourned till May 15.