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 Abuja has discharged and acquitted a former Chief of Air Staff, Mohammed Umar, guilty of diverting N66 million from the account of the Nigerian Air Force.
The retired Air chief marshal battled one count of money laundering involving N66 million allegedly cornered from the account of the Nigerian Air Force (NAF) during his time as the Chief of Air staff between 2010 and 2012.
Delivering judgement on the judge held that there was nothing in the evidence of the prosecution linking Mr Umar to instructing the transfer of the said funds for the renovation of his private property in Abuja.
Mr Dimgba said it would be dangerous to speculate on a wild assumption that Mr Umar must be aware of every financial transaction from the Nigeria Air Force bank account.
Ruling on the propriety of the evidence led by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) in February 2021, the judge dismissed six out of the seven charges initially lodged against Mr Umar by the anti-graft agency.
However, the judge ordered the former Air chief to refund the sum of N57 million to the Nigeria Air Force within seven working days.
The said funds was the actual amount used in refurbishing Mr Umar’s private property at Asokoro area of Abuja.
President Muhammadu Buhari has affirmed the suspension of Mr Ibrahim Magu as acting Chairman of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC).
Magu’s suspension by the President, which takes immediate effect, was announced on Friday in a statement from the Office of the Attorney-General of the Federation and Minister of Justice.
The minister’s Special Assistant on Media and Public Relations, Umar Gwandu, who signed the statement explained that the presidential directive was to allow for an unhindered inquiry by the Presidential Investigation Panel under the Tribunals of Inquiry Act and other relevant laws.
He revealed that President Buhari has directed the EFCC Director of Operations, Mohammed Umar, to take charge and oversee the activities of the commission.
According to Gwandu, Umar will oversee EFCC’s activities pending the conclusion of the ongoing investigation and further directives in that regard.
Fourth Night In Custody
The presidential panel is investigating the activities of the anti-graft agency under the leadership of Magu, who has been in police detention since Monday.
This follows the allegations of misconduct levelled against him by the Attorney-General of the Federation, Abubakar Malami.
Malami, a Senior Advocate of Nigeria, was said to have written to President Buhari, demanding the removal of Magu as the acting chairman of the anti-graft agency.
The presidential panel had invited the suspended EFCC boss on Monday while he was on his way to the Force Headquarters in Abuja.
The Opposition’s Demand
While the EFCC said Magu was going to the Police Headquarters “for a meeting,” the presidential panel was said to have extended its probe into properties alleged to have been acquired by the suspended EFCC boss in Dubai, the United Arab Emirates (UAE).
A team of security officials reportedly searched Magu’s homes on Tuesday in Abuja and were said to have left with some documents.
It was, however, not confirmed if anything incriminating was found during the search.
In its reaction, the Presidency stated that Magu’s probe reinforced the commitment of the Buhari administration to transparency and accountability.
The Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), on its part, called on President Buhari to show the genuineness of his war against corruption by allowing the unhindered investigation of the suspended EFCC boss.
It also demanded a transparent investigation and advised the President to direct relevant agencies to commence actions that would lead to Magu’s prosecution, if found guilty of the allegations.
Five suspected members of the Boko Haram sect have been arrested by the Joint Security Forces in Kaduna State.
A top security operative who confirmed the arrest in Kaduna on Thursday, said that the arrest was made in the early hours of Wednesday, February 20, by the Department of State Services (DSS) in collaboration with the Nigerian Army and the Nigerian Police Force in an operation launched to thwart a planned attack on a Police Station at Kwanan Dangora in the State.
The top security source gave the names of the arrested members of the sects as 28-year-old king pin, Bashir Ali, Abdullahi Adam 21, Adamu Abdullahi 29, Abubakar Abdullahi 32 and Mohammed Umar, 32.
The security operatives also recovered seven primed Improvised Explosives Devices, one General Purpose Machine Gun, three AK 47 Riffles, five fully charged magazines, 66 rounds of 7.62mm live ammunitions and a Jerry Can of petrol among other things.