Arms Gate: Witness Narrates How Ex-Air Force Chief Diverted NAF’s Funds
An investigation officer with the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC), Tosin Owobo, on Thursday, continued with his evidence in Chief by narrating before a Federal High Court, Lagos, how the former Chief of Air Staff, Air Marshall Adesola Amosu Nunayon, diverted funds from various accounts of Nigeria Air Force (NAF), to his private businesses.
Air Marshall Amosu alongside Vice Marshall Jacob Adigun, NAF’s former Director of Finance and Budget, and his deputy Commodore Olugbenga Gbadebo, alongside eight Limited liability companies are being tried before the court over alleged N22.8 billion fraud.
Companies charged alongside the trio are: Delfina Oil and Gas Limited, Mcallan Oil And Gas Limited, Hebron Housing and Properties Company Limited, Trapezites BDC, Fonds and Pricey Limited, Timsegg Investment Limited and Solomon Health Care Services.
Owobo who was led-in-evidence by Rotimi Oyedepo, counsel to EFCC, told the court presided over by Justice Muhammad Idris, how the sum of N860, 030, 7107, meant for different Nigeria Air Force (NAF) projects, were moved from NAF’ Jet A1 account domiciled with Zenith Bank Plc, to his companies’ accounts domiciled with United Bank for Africa (UBA) and Ecobank Plc.
Amosu’s companies where the monies were moved to according to the witness are; Hebron Housing and Property Limited, Solomon Healthcare Services Limited, and Solomon Enterprises Limited.
NAF’s accounts where the funds were moved to Amosu’s firms’ accounts are: NAF Jet A1 account, NAF operation account, NAF Special Emergency Operation account, Ministry Of Defence (MOD), and Headquarters NAF’s account.
Owobo told the court that the monies were moved to Amosu’s companies between March 5, 2014 and April 7, 2015.
However, attempt to tender UBA’s account opening packages and mandate card with covering letters dated February 5, 2016, March 7, 2016, and April 18, 2016, belonging to Solomon Healthcare Services Limited and Solomon Enterprises Limited, by the prosecution was strongly opposed by the defendants’ lawyers on the ground that some pages of the letters are missing.
Chief Bolaji Ayorinde (SAN), counsel to Air Marshall Amosu and one of his company, Solomon Healthcare Services Limited, particularly urges the court to discountenance the letter dated February 5, 2016, and marked it as ‘tendered and rejected’, as it was not included in the additional Proof-of-Evidence served on the defence by the prosecution.
With regards to letter dated March 7 2017 and April 18, 2016, Chief Ayorinde (SAN), also urged the court not to admit them and marked it as rejected on the ground that pages 3 and 5 of its attachments are conspicuously missing from the front loaded documents supplied by the prosecution.
“Defect in the attachment is a virus which affects other documents defective. Therefore it should be mark as rejected.
“On the letter dated March 7, 2016, the same virus has afflicted the document, as page two to four are missing from the front loaded documents.
“I urged the court to mark same as ‘tendered and rejected’, Amosu’s lawyer submitted.
Responding, EFCC lawyer, Mr. Oyedepo, while urging the court not to mark the letters as ‘tendered and rejected’, said the prosecution have checked the second additional Proof-of-Evidence filed on March 25, 2017, that the letters dated March 7, and April 18, 2016, and reflected in its form and content as front loaded to the defence.
He however stated that on the letter dated February 5, 2016, he pleaded with the court not to mark it as ‘tendered and rejected’, as it suffers no evidential defect, but to order the prosecution to front load the letter to defence in the interest of Justice.
According to him, “on the letter dated March 7, and April 18, 2016, they suffered no defect that will stop the court from admitting them. The letters appeared the was it was front loaded, no page is missing, the letters are useful to the count of the charge.I urged court not to acceed to the objection raised by the defence. I urge the court to abide by its earlier ruling where it ordered the prosecution to furnish the defence with additional information. I urged the court to admit the letter dated March 7, and April 18, 2016, and allow us to front load the letter dated February 2, 2016, and serve the defence same.”
Responding on point of law, Chief Ayorinde (SAN) and other defence lawyers, insisted that the court should discountenance the prosecution’s submission and Mark the letters as ‘tendered and rejected’.
Upon the arguments and submissions of both parties, Justice Idris, adjourned till Friday for ruling and continuation of defendants’ trial.
Prior to today’s trial, Justice Idris had dismissed the defence applications to oppose the admissibility of defendants’ statements tendered by the prosecution.
The judge, after citing plethora of authorities, said it was not in doubt that the statements were signed by the defendants and it’s admissible.
The judge also stated that the second prosecution witness can tender the documents.
The accused persons were first arraigned before the court on June 29, on 23 counts charge bordering on Fraud, money laundering, and stealing.
The offences are contrary to sections 18(a) of the Money Laundering (Prohibition) (Amendment) Act, 2012, and punishable under Section 15(3) of the same Act.
Recalled that the witness had told Justice Idris led-Court how the three Airforce Chiefs, used fictitious Oil and Gas companies to laundered the sum of N5.9 billion, received from Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency (NIMASA) and Nigerian Air Force (NAF) through the aides of some banks in Nigeria.
Parts of the alleged fraud he said the defendants used to buying properties both in Nigeria and United Kingdom, and equipments for their individual firms.