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.
The Federal High Court in Lagos has ordered the temporary forfeiture of N2.2billion recovered from a former Chief of Air Staff, Air Marshal Adesola Amosu.
Justice Mojisola Olatoregun made the order after listening to an ex-parte application brought before her by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC).
The judge held that “An interim order is made forfeiting to the Federal Government of Nigeria the total sum of N2,244,500,000 found and recovered by the commission from the first respondent (Amosu) which sum is reasonably suspected to be proceeds of unlawful activity.”
The judge also granted an interim order for the temporary forfeiture of another N190,828,978.15 recovered from a former Nigeria Air Force Director of Finance and Budget, Air Commodore Olugbenga Gbadebo, and another N101 million recovered from Solomon Enterprises, a company linked to Amosu.
The EFCC told the judge that the various sums were “reasonably suspected to be proceeds of unlawful activity.”
Justice Olatoregun also directed the EFCC to publish the interim order in two national dailies so that the respondents or anyone interested in the sums can show cause why a final order of forfeiture should not be made in favour of the Federal Government.
The judge then adjourned the case until June 29, 2018.
The two respondents, Amosu and Adigun were said to have, between July 17 and September 16, 2014, allegedly removed over N663.4million from the Nigerian Air Force accounts to among other things purchase properties at 50-52 Tenterden Grove, London (NW4 1TH) and at 93B Shirehall Park, LondonNW4 2QU, United Kingdom.
They were also accused of buying 40A, Bourdillon, Ikoyi, with N900million, and another property worth N1.5bn at Sinari Daranijo street in Victoria Island, Lagos.
The EFCC also said they bought a property named Cappadol Mall at Adetokunbo Ademola Street, Wuse II Abuja, for N750million, as well as a property worth over N1.7billion at Agobogba Street, Parkview, Ikoyi Lagos, using the airforce’s money.
Other properties they allegedly bought using Air Force’s funds include one at Salt Lake Street, Maitama, Abuja; one at Agadez Street off Aminu Kano Crescent, Abuja; 61A, Lake Chad Street, Maitama, Abuja; and one at 1, River Street, Wuse II Abuja.
Between March 6 and April 30, the respondents allegedly used N428,139,539.00 removed from the accounts of the Nigerian Air Force to renovate and purchase medical equipment for Solomon HealthCare Ltd situate at 24 Adeniyi Jones Street, Ikeja Lagos.
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.
The Nigerian Air Force has deployed Special Forces to Nguroje Community in Taraba State to curb incessant killings and attacks in the state.
Taraba is one of the states affected by clashes between farmers and herdsmen, which has led to the death of many.
Others states where the Nigerian Air Force has established various special units, include Goma, Nasarawa State and Agatu in Benue state.
The Director of operations of the Nigerian Air Force, Napoleon Bali, who represented the Chief of Air Staff, urged the troops to collaborate with other security forces on ground for a successful operation.
“The Nigerian Airforce has established various special units all over the country. You are here today for special duties. I urge you to partner with other security agencies here including the Nigerian Army, DSS, Police and other security outfits here in Taraba State,” Bali said.
Since the beginning of the year there have been incessant attacks in various region in the country leading to the loss of lives.
The troops who arrived in two waves from Kaduna, on board a c-130 aircraft are expected to camp in the community until the menace is curbed.
In order to supervise and coordinate the search for the abducted Dapchi schoolgirls, the Chief of Air Staff, Air Marshal Sadique Abubakar has relocated to Yobe State.
This was contained in a statement issued in Abuja on Tuesday by the Minister of Information and Culture, Alhaji Lai Mohammed.
He said Abubakar has relocated to the troubled community to “personally superintend the search for the girls.”
Mohammed in the statement said further that the Nigerian Air Force (NAF) had earlier deployed more platforms to the North east for the search, as the security agencies increase efforts to locate and rescue the girls.
“As at 6:00 pm on Monday, the NAF had flown a total of 200 hours while conducting the search,” Mohammed said in the statement.
The list according to Mr Mohammed was verified by a 26-member Screening Committee that includes the Executive Secretary, State Teaching Service Board, Musa Abdulsalam; Director, Schools’ Management, Ministry of Education, Shuaibu Bulama; Principal of GGSTC, Adama Abdulkarim; the two Vice Principals, Ali Musa Mabu and Abdullahi Sule Lampo; Admission Officer, Bashir Ali Yerima, and the Form Masters for all the classes.
According to the list, out of the 110 missing girls, eight were in JSS1, 17 were in JSS 2, 12 were in JSS 3, 40 in SS1, 19 in SS2 and 14 in SS3.
See full list of the missing schoolgirls as released by the Federal Government HERE.
The residents told Channels Television that the farmers and herdsmen crisis in the state has taken another dimension. They allege that gunmen knock on doors and open bullets on residents. They also called for government’s quick intervention.
The residents, who are mostly women and children have taken refuge in some schools in Doma, Agyaragu, Agwatashi and Imon villages.
As a result of insecurity in Nasarawa, a police officer was also found dead in Adudu community of Obi Local Government Area of Nasarawa state on Tuesday, February 13. The policeman whose name was not disclosed was reportedly killed by some hoodlums. Nasarawa Police Public Relations Officer, Idrissu Kennedy confirmed the news of the death to Channels Television.
The Chief of Air Staff has warned against the use of the social media for promoting hate speeches and spreading falsehood.
Air Marshal Sadiq Abubakar said at a workshop on information management for public relations officers in the Nigerian Air Force on Tuesday that using the social media that way would jeopardise the development of the country.
“We are all not unaware of the use of social media by some elements to spread falsehood in addition to promoting hate speeches, violence, anarchy, and confusion in our society,” he said. “The message of hate and violence does not augur well for the development of our great nation. I, therefore, implore all relevant stakeholders to focus on the use of the social media to inform, educate and entertain as originally intended.”
His comments come a day after President Muhammadu Buhari said in a national broadcast that some of the comments made by Nigerians on the social media in his absence crossed the line and left him distressed.
The Chief of Air Staff, Air Marshall Sadique Abubakar has called on Nigerians not to be swayed by recent suicide bombings in the country, giving assurances that the country is winning the war against insurgency.
He made this known during an operational visit to 115 special operations group of the Nigerian Air Force Base in Port Harcourt the Rivers State capital, where commissioned a 30 unit block as part of efforts to deal with the accommodation challenges of the force.
“We believe the human resource is more important than structure.
That is why we do everything to achieve comfort and stability for our officers.
The building is to help solve the problem of accommodation faced by the unit”.
Meanwhile, the Commander of the Special Operations Group, Air Commodore Mahmud Madi, says this is a timely intervention.
“At a time when the unit had accommodation problems, we are very grateful to the Chief of Air Staff for this move which is serve as a morale booster for the officers as they go about their duties.”