Nigeria: How Ex-Air Force Chiefs Diverted N3 Billion Paid to NAF By NIMASA - Witness

19 January 2021

The witness alleged that the funds paid to NAF in tranches were diverted by the defendants.

A prosecution witness on Tuesday told the Federal High Court in Lagos how N3 billion credited to the Nigeria Air Force (NAF) by the Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency (NIMASA) was diverted to personal use under the then Chief of Air Staff, Adesola Amosu's watch.

Okechukwu Akubue, who is an operative of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC), said N3 billion was credited by NIMASA in the NAF's Special Emergency Operations Account domiciled in Zenith Bank in three tranches.

Mr Akubue who started testifying as the first prosecution witness on Monday, had told the judge, Chukwujekwu Aneke, that NIMASA paid the N3 billion to NAF in three tranches "for the protection of Nigeria's waterways".

The witness said NAF received the first tranche of N1 billion from NIMASA on August 28, 2014, the second tranche of N1 billion on September 15, 2014, and the third tranche of N1 billion credit again from the maritime agency on September 23, 2014.

The witness alleged that the funds paid to NAF between August and September 2014 were diverted by the defendants.

The EFCC is prosecuting Mr Amosu alongside Jacobs Adigun, and Gbadebo Owodunni, on amended 13 counts of fraud involving the diversion of N21 billion belonging to NAF.

The commission stated that Mr Adigun was an Air Vice Marshal and NAF Chief of Accounts and Budget, while Mr Owodunni was an Air Commodore and former NAF Director of Finance and Budget.

How first N1 billion was allegedly diverted

The witness said, "further to the N1 billion credit inflow from NIMASA, we found debit of N4, 801,549 on behalf of Hebron Housing and Property, a company linked to the second defendant by way of ownership."

According to him, "the Ecobank account in which the money was credited is also owned by the second defendant and the fund was not utilised for the NAF but for the benefits of the defendants".

He also said N228 million was debited from the NAF account in favour of Rite Options Oil and Gas, on September 2, 2014.

He said another N336 million was also debited in favour of the same company on the same day.

According to the witness, the sum of N165.7 million was also debited from the NAF account on September 4, 2014 in favour of Juda Oil Limited and another N170.210 million also debited from the same account on the same day.

He added, "Investigating the transaction in favour of Rite Options Oil and Gas, we invited for questioning the owner of the company, Adedeji Adelakun.

"In the course of interrogation, he admitted that he was not into oil and gas business, but that he was a bureau de change dealer.

"Adelakun further confessed that the money in question was not utilised for the services of NAF, but that he converted same to United States dollars and gave to Olufunke Osisanmi, a member of staff of Zenith Bank on the instruction of the defendant."

With regards to Juda Oil Limited, Mr Akubue told the court the owner of the company, Mohammed Sani, was also invited for questioning.

He said, "Mohammed admitted that he did not provide any service for the NAF, but that he rather changed the money to United States dollar and gave same to NAF officers nominated by the defendant."

How second N1 billion credit was allegedly diverted

According to Mr Akubue, the NAF also got another N1 billion from NIMASA on September 15, 2014.

He noted that following the credit, "several debits were made, including N258.6 million on September 16, 2014, in favour of Delfina Oil and Gas; N261,416,480.92 on September 16, 2014, in favour of McAllam Oil and Gas, which also got another N235,970,883.66, and N243,919,114.64 in favour of Delfina Oil and Gas on September 17, 2014".

The investigation, according to Mr Akubue, revealed that these two companies, were owned and controlled by the second defendant, and like Rite Options Oil and Gas, and Juda Oil Limited, "they had no contractual agreements with the NAF".

How third N1 billion was allegedly diverted

Further testifying, Mr Akubue told the court that there was another lodgment of N1 billion from NIMASA on September 23, 2014.

He said, "Following the lodgment, N146, 298,479.31 was debited in favour of Lebol Oil and Gas, which on the same day, also got N153, 701,520.69."

Mr Akubue noted that Lebol Oil and Gas also got N135, 219,625.27; N185, 880,374.73; N186, 410,750.12 and N168, 489,249.88 all on September 24, 2014.

The company, which he said was owned by Adamu Musa, a BDC operator, also got N162, 715,233.52 and N161, 284,766.48 all on September 25, 2014.

"Under interrogation, Musa confessed that the company had no contractual agreements with the NAF and that the funds were changed to United States dollar and given to agents nominated by the defendant," he said.

Meanwhile, the judge adjourned the trial till April 12, 15 and 20, 2021.

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