Nigeria: How Funds Were Diverted Under Ex-NAF Chief's Watch - Witness

18 January 2021

An EFCC official narrates how public funds meant for NAF were traced to the defendants.

A prosecution witness on Monday narrated to the Federal High Court in Lagos how funds belonging to the Nigeria Air Force were diverted under the watch of Adesola Amosu as then Chief of Air Staff.

The Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) is prosecuting Mr Amosu alongside Jacobs Adigun, and Gbadebo Owodunni on amended 13 counts of fraud involving the diversion of N21 billion belonging NAF.

While Mr Adigun was an Air Vice Marshal and NAF Chief of Accounts and Budget, Mr Owodunni was an Air Commodore and former NAF Director of Finance and Budget.

Testimony

Testifying as the first prosecution witness in the case on Monday, Okechukwu Akubue, an EFCC operative, narrated how public funds meant for NAF were traced to the defendants.

Mr Akubue, who was led in evidence by the prosecuting counsel, Suleiman Suleiman, noted that EFCC had in 2015 received an intelligence on the alleged fraud.

He identified Exhibit A3 before the court as the bank statement of the NAF Special Emergency Operations Account domiciled in Zenith Bank.

He said Messrs Adigun and Owodunni were the signatories to the account as indicated by the bank mandate.

The witness, who said the bank statement was part of the responses to the letters of investigation sent to several financial institutions by the EFCC, added that the transaction of April 8, 2014, appearing on the bank statement, was an inflow of N1billion from one NAF account domiciled in Skye Bank (now Polaris Bank).

He said, "The account, where the money came from, is also one of the accounts under investigation.

"One of the disbursements from the N1 billion is the sum of N16, 980,000 on April 17, 2014 to a firm known as Delcon Installers Limited.

"We did further investigation of the company and we gathered that the money was not used to procure services for NAF."

Mr Akubue said a transaction on August 28, 2014, "a credit sum of N1 billion came from NIMASA".

He explained further EFCC's investigating team also came across a Memorandum of Understanding, between NIMASA and NAF for the protection of Nigeria's waterways, which prompted the credit of N1 billion from NIMASA to NAF.

"In our investigation, we came across a debit of N4,801,549 withdrawn on September 2, 2014 from this inflow, into the account of Hebron Housing and Property," Mr Akubue said.

He said the company was linked to the second defendant "by way of ownership" and was used to "purchase assets on behalf of the defendants".

The trial began in June 2016 before Idris Mohammed, who has now been elevated to the Court of Appeal.

The case was later reassigned to a new judge, Chukwujekwu Aneke.

The defendants pleaded not guilty when they were re-arraigned in November 2018.

The case was adjourned till January 19.

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