Ex-Air Chief Dikko ‘Converted’ N1.2bn, Witness Tells Court
The trial of a former Chief of Air Staff, Air Marshal Mohammed Umar Dikko (rtd), continued on Thursday at the Federal High Court sitting in Maitama, Abuja.
Dikko is being prosecuted by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) on seven counts bordering on money laundering and procurement fraud to the tune of N9.7 billion.
At the resumed trial before Justice Nnamdi Dimgba, the anti-graft agency called the ninth prosecution witness (PW9), Hammadama Bello, who told the court that the defendant allegedly converted N1.2 billion belonging to the Nigerian Air Force to his personal use.
Under cross-examination by the defence counsel, Dr Onyeachi Ikpeazu, the witness who is an investigator with the EFCC alleged that funds meant for air force operational purposes were diverted by Dikko to his personal use.
He disclosed that not all capital projects like building and equipping of hospitals, Comprehensive School, Kano; Comprehensive School, Yola; building of Conference Centre in Kado, Abuja and the renovation of barracks, as well as the Air Force barricade were sponsored from the tranche earmarked for them.
“In addition to the project listed above, the defendant Air Marshal Umar Dikko, helped himself by carrying out some project for himself, like his house in Maitama, which amounts to almost a billion naira,” Bello was quoted as saying in a statement from the EFCC.
He explained that a case of alleged money laundering was established against the defendant following the results of investigations into properties linked to the former Chief of Air Staff.
The witness also informed the court that all directives regarding the disbursement of NAF’s funds allegedly came from Dikko to the Director of Finance and Accounts, who was reportedly assisted by the CFO, Group Captain Bukar Abubakar.
He alleged that Abubakar was in turn assisted by Squadron Leader, Emmanuel Agbor, and a number of other junior cashiers, adding that the former Air Chief gave directives in the absence of the Director, Finance, and Accounts.
At the previous court sitting, Bello had told the court how some properties were allegedly purchased by the defendant.
“Although the defendant (Dikko) claimed he bought the property for N35 million, investigations revealed that the property was originally a guest house of the Nigerian Air Force, which was sold to one AVM Lex.
“Upon questioning, AVM Lex confirmed that he had been approached by one Yushau, who told him that the buyer preferred to stay anonymous and N85 million, was paid to AVM Lex, for the property and another N75 million paid for renovation of the same,” the witness added.
According to him, investigations also revealed that the former Air Chief came from a humble background, rising from the position of a teacher, then a library assistant, before becoming a serving officer and then the Chief of Air Staff and wondered how he could have acquired such properties.
“He (Dikko) was not a businessman while in service and would have to be Chief of Air Staff (at his last grade level) for 250 years to be able to afford the properties linked to him.
“Investigations revealed that during Dikko’s tenure as Chief of Air Staff, he received N558,200,000 on a monthly basis, which he converted into dollars,” Bello told the court.
He added that searches conducted on companies linked to the defendant at the Corporate Affairs Commission (CAC) and several bank accounts revealed that none of the accounts of these companies were used directly or indirectly for the purchase of the properties.
Bello also informed the court on the outcome of the investigation into the monies transferred to the account of Capital Law Firm, the legal agent engaged for the purchase of the defendant’s Asokoro property.
He said they uncovered a trail of about N900 million which was paid in cash as payment for the property and N40 million in legal fees while additional monies (in dollars) were paid to the agent’s account for the renovation of the property.
With the conclusion of cross-examination, Justice Dimgba discharged the witness and adjourned the matter until Friday for the continuation of hearing.