The Court of Appeal, Abuja Division, has set aside the judgment of a Federal High Court, Abuja which discharged and acquitted a former Chief of Air Staff, Air Marshal Mohammed Umar, of a money laundering charge to the tune of N66 million.
In a unanimous judgment, the three-man panel of Justices led by Justice Elfrieda Williams–Dawodu, upturned the judgment of the Federal High Court and ordered that the defendant continue with his defence on counts 1,2,3,5 and 6
The former Air Chief was prosecuted by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) on one count bordering on money laundering allegedly stolen from the account of the Nigerian Air Force (NAF) during his tenure between 2010 and 2012, to the tune of sixty- six million Naira.
In his Judgement, Justice Nnamdi Dimgba of the Federal High Court ruled that the prosecution failed to provide any evidence that Umar gave the instruction for the transfer of the said funds for the renovation of his private property in Abuja.
He had dismissed six out of the seven charges filed against Umar by the EFCC following a no-case submission.
In his view, it would be dangerous to speculate that Umar must be aware of every financial transaction from the accounts of the Nigerian Air Force.
Dissatisfied with Umar’s acquittal, the EFCC appealed the judgment, asking the Court of Appeal to set aside the judgment of the Federal High Court.
Justice Nnamdi Dimgba of the Federal High Court in Awka Division has thrown his weight behind the setting up of the Asset Management Corporation of Nigeria (AMCON) by the Central Bank of Nigeria and granting the agency some special powers to enable it to recover its troublesome bad debts.
Justice Dimgba made the statement at an interactive session organised by the Legal Academy for Land Registry Officials, Corporate Affairs Commission personnel, AMCON, and other stakeholders in the nation’s capital, Abuja.
He said it is imperative to do whatever it takes within the ambit of the law to ensure that individuals who are holding the collective commonwealth of Nigeria are made to return them to the government through AMCON.
AMCON has current outstanding debt of over ₦4.4trillion owed by a few individuals that obtained loans from financial institutions and did not pay back the loans.
Consequently, the bad loans were sold to AMCON when it was created in 2010. The company was able to recapitalise a good number of the affected financial institutions and stabilised the financial sector.
Meanwhile, the Federal Government through the National Assembly is also thinking of making some amendments in the act establishing AMCON, which gives it some additional powers that would hasten its recovery mandate.
Former Minister of Interior, Abba Patrick Moro, on Thursday, December 3, 2020, began his defense before Justice Nnamdi Dimgba of the Federal High Court, Abuja, stating in his testimony that the March 17, 2014 recruitment exercise of Nigeria Immigration Service (NIS) was marred by controversies, nepotism, job racketeering, and lopsidedness.
These biases Mr Moro argued derailed the exercise even before he was appointed Minister of Interior.
“The recruitment was marred with controversies, accusations, nepotism, job racketeering, and lopsidedness. The controversies had derailed recruitment exercise even before I became the Minister of Interior,” he stated.
Moro entered his defense on counts two, four, five, and 11 out of the 11- count charges preferred against them by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, EFCC, given that the rest of the charges were dismissed in his “no-case submission.”
Testifying as first defense witness (DW1), and led by his counsel, Paul Erokoro, SAN, he said the Ministry of Interior, sometime in December 2012 received a waiver from the Office of the Head of Service for the recruitment of 4556 (Four Thousand, Five Hundred and Fifty-six) officers, which he directed be to recruited accordingly.
He said he had to cancel the initial exercise with assurance to the country that he was going to enthrone a cost-effective and modern method of recruitment, which he said saw to a proposal from a technology company for an e-recruitment platform.
He said the e-recruitment platform was adopted and forwarded to the procurement department for vetting and approval and the Ministerial Tenders Board, which approved Drexel Technological Ltd for the project for a period of five years and forwarded to his office for his endorsement.
Moro told the court he was not a member of the Ministerial Tenders’ Board and did not influence the award to Drexel Ltd. He also denied inviting any company for the bidding exercise.
He, therefore, wondered why he was standing trial for procurement fraud when he was not part of his ministry’s procurement department.
“I am not a member of the procurement department and I couldn’t have influenced anybody and therefore did not commit any fraud,” he said.
Moro also told the court that he could not have caused the stampede that claimed the lives of applicants in the recruitment exercise, because the recruitment process, according to him, started in 2012 and was eventually carried out in 2014.
Moro is facing trial alongside Anastasia Daniel-Nwobia, a former permanent secretary in the ministry; F.O. Alayebami, a deputy director in the ministry, Mahmood Ahmadu, currently at large, and Drexel Tech Nigeria Limited, a firm involved in the ill-fated recruitment exercise, for money laundering, abuse of office, procurement fraud and fraud against Nigerian applicants to the tune of N675, 675,000 (Six Hundred and Seventy-five Million, Six Hundred and Seventy- five Thousand Naira only).
Justice Dimgba adjourned the matter till February 23, 24, and 25, 2021, for Moro’s cross-examination and continuation of trial.
Star prosecution witness in the trial of former Chief of Air Staff, Air Chief Marshal Dikko Umar, has told a Federal High Court in Abuja that the alleged sum of 558.200 million Naira he usually gives to the defendant as his monthly upkeep from the coffers of the Nigerian Air Force were not documented.
The witness, Air Commodore Salisu Yaushau, told the court in his evidence that the former Air Chief cumulatively collected over 13.3 billion Naira for two years as his monthly upkeep from the coffers of the Nigerian Air Force.
The witness, who was the Force’s Director of Finance and Accounts, also told the court how he assisted Mr Umar to acquire properties across the country worth over 2.3 billion Naira out of the monthly upkeep of 558,200 million Naira.
Under cross examination by the lead defence counsel, Hassan Liman, the witness said the payments made to the former Chief of Air Staff were not captured in the Cash and Votes Books of the Nigerian Air Force.
Air Commodore Yaushau, however, highlighted the fact that the former Air Chief was the final authority on all finances in the Air Force Headquarters and as the Director of Finance, he was answerable to the then Chief of Air Staff.
The defence counsel then tendered in evidence, a book titled “Manual of Financial Administration of the Armed Forces of Nigeria, 2012” which provides that receipt be issued on all payments made by any of the forces.
Although the prosecution counsel, Sylvanus Tahir, objected to the admissibility of the book on the grounds that it was certified as a public document by the relevant authorities, it was however, admitted in evidence by Justice Nnamdi Dimgba.
After listening to both parties, Justice Dimgba adjourned the trail on the case till March 28 and 29.
Air Marshal Umar was re-arraigned before the court by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) on a 7- count charge of Money Laundering Act, 2011, while he held sway as the Chief of Air Staff between September 2010 and 2012.
Justice Nnamdi Dimgba of the Federal High Court, Abuja has ordered an associate of Governor Ayo Fayose of Ekiti State, Abiodun Agbele to be remanded in Kuje Prisons.
He is to remain in custody till Thursday, August 4 when he will rule on his bail application.
Agbele was arraigned alongside three others before Justice Dimgba by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC), on an 11-count charge bordering on money laundering to the tune of N4.6 billion allegedly transferred from the office of the National Security Adviser.
He however pleaded not guilty to all charges when it was read to him.
Arguing on his bail application, counsel to Agbele, Mr Mike Ozekhome (SAN) prayed the court to grant his client bail on self-recognition because the offences for which he is standing trial for are bailable.
He told the court that the applicant was arrested by the EFCC in his house and his international passport has been with them and was used as a condition for his administrative bail.
He added that the onus is on the EFCC, to show that if granted bail, the applicant will jump and urged the court to grant the applicant bail on grounds that he will be available for trial.
Opposing the bail application, the prosecution counsel, Mr Johnson Ojogbane urged the court to refuse the application on ground, insisting that the applicant will jump bail if granted.
He told the court that the applicant is a flight risk and had perfected plans to flee the country before he was arrested by the operatives of the anti-graft agency.
He, therefore, urged the court to refuse the application and instead commence accelerated hearing in the case.
The principal witness in the ongoing trial of Barrister Azibaola Robert, cousin to ex-President Goodluck Jonathan, Ibrahim Mahe, has told a Federal High Court that only the detained former National Security Adviser (NSA), Colonel Sambo Dasuki can explain why Oneplus Holdings Limited got a $40 million pipeline security contract.
Mahe, who recently retired as permanent secretary, special services operations in the NSA’s office told the court that he paid Oneplus $40 million out of the $600 million special security fund sourced from the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC).
Under cross-examination by counsel to Roberts, Chris Uche, Mahe, who admitted serving only 11 months in the NSA’s office, also admitted that some other firms got security contracts in excess of $40 million approved for Oneplus.
The retired permanent secretary, however, failed to tell the court presided by Justice Nnamdi Dimgba the names of the companies that benefited from the remaining $560 million of the special security fund.
The retired permanent secretary said that he paid Oneplus based on the conviction that the firm’s security contract met due process requirements, having been endorsed by nine top officials of the NSA’s office.
Trial judge, Justice Dimgba has adjourned the case till October 6, 7 and 19 for continuation of trial.
The trial of the former Minister of Interior, Mr Abba Moro, has been stalled following objections raised by the defence team over the admissibility of a document by the prosecutor.
Mr Moro is facing charges of corruption before a Federal High Court in Abuja.
At the resumed trial, the prosecutor attempted to tender a document through a witness, but the defence team raised objections saying the original copy of the document should be tendered.
Following arguments by both counsels on the admissibility of the document, which is a letter written by a former Comptroller General of Immigration, Justice Nnamdi Dimgba adjourned the trial to June 10, 2016.
Mr Moro and four others are facing an 11-count charge of money laundering.
They are accused of defrauding 676, 675 applicants of the sum of n676, 675, 000, being the aggregate of N1000 paid by each applicant to Drexel ahead of the recruitment exercise which claimed the lives of some job seekers.
A Federal High Court sitting in Abuja has granted bail to Mr Robert Azibaola and two others who were arraigned on Tuesday, June 6 for alleged fraudulent involvement in a civil national contract amounting to the tune of N10 billion.
Justice Nnamdi Dimgba admitted the accused persons bail in the sum of N500 naira each
Azibaola is a cousin to former President Goodluck Jonathan.
They are to provide two sureties in like sum and the sureties must be an owner of a landed property in Asokoro or Maitama Districts of Abuja
The court further added that the sureties must provide evidence of payment of income tax for the past three years and the registry of the court shall verify the fulfilment of the bail conditions and report to the court accordingly for approval
The ruling was delivered before the trial of Mr Abba Moro commenced.
The accused persons are to be remanded in prison pending the satisfaction of the bail conditions.
Mr Robert Azibaola, Mrs Stella Azibaola and One Plus Holdings Nig Ltd were yesterday arraigned for allegedly collecting N10 billion for a fraudulent contract.