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EFCC’s witness reveals alleged diversion of funds by ex-Service Chiefs –

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Adesola Amosu

A Federal High Court Lagos on Wednesday heard that a former Chief of Air Staff, Adesola Amosu, and two others diverted N3 billion paid by the Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency.
Amosun is charged alongside two other officers of the Air Force, Air vice Marshal Jacob Adigun and Air Commodore Gbadebo Olugbenga.
Also charged are some companies, namely: Delfina Oil and Gas Ltd, Mcallan Oil and Gas Ltd, Hebron Housing and Properties Company Ltd, Trapezites BDC and Fonds and Pricey Ltd.
The accused persons are being prosecuted by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission.
They were arraigned before Justice Mohammed Idris on June 26, 2016 and had pleaded not guilty to the charges.
Idirs had granted them bail in the sum of N500 million each, with two sureties each in like sum.
At the resumed hearing of the case on Wednesday, Tosin Owobo, an Assistant Detective Superintendent with the EFCC, continued his testimony before Justice Mohammed Idris.
The witness, who began his evidence in December, told the court that NIMASA paid the money into the Nigerian Air Force account in response to a request for assistance on maritime security.
He said that the request was made by Amosu to NIMASA’s then D-G, Patrick Akpobolokemi, who is also facing fraud charges.
Owobo told the court that after Akpobolokemi approved payment of the sum, the money was released in three tranches of N1 billion each between August and September 2014.
The witness said: “It was released to a Nigerian Air Force Special Emergency Operations Account because NAF had sent an account into which they wanted the money to be paid as part of a Memorandum of Understanding between the Airforce and NIMASA.”
Owobo said the letter was signed by the Director of Accounts, Air Vice Marshal Jacob Bola Adigun, who is also an accused.
He said that the sum of N1 billion and N480 million was earlier paid by NIMASA to the Nigerian Air Force under the leadership of Air Chief Alex Badeh in 2013, following the same MoU.
The witness testified further that as the money was credited into the NAF special account, it was further transferred to various oil and gas companies, which had accounts also domiciled with the same bank.
He said that a letter of investigation was written to the bank, requesting for the statements of accounts of these oil and gas companies as well as documents on the accounts.
He said that the oil companies involved are Delfina Oil and Gas Ltd, Mcallan Oil And Gas Ltd, Hebron Housing and Properties Company Ltd, all of which are named in the charge.
The defence counsels did not object to the tendering of the bank statements and other communications received from the bank, they, however, objected to attempts by the witness to refer to the documents.
The lawyers led by Chief Bolaji Ayorinde insisted that since Owobo was not the maker of the documents he could not refer or give evidence on it.
The prosecutor, Rotimi Oyedepo, while urging the court to allow the witness to continue his testimony argued that as an investigative officer, the witness had a duty to give an account of his findings, using all the documents available to him.
Justice Idris adjourned to January 26, for ruling on the objection.
The charges against the accused persons border on conspiracy, stealing and money laundering.
In one of the counts, the accused were said to have indirectly converted the sum of N3.6 billion belonging to the Nigerian Airforce to their own use.
In another instance, the EFCC alleged that Amosun and the others stole more than N323 million from the accounts of the Nigerian Airforce between March 21, 2014 and March 12, 2015.
He said the alleged theft was for the purpose of purchasing for themselves a property situated at 1, River Street, Wuse II Abuja.
The alleged offences were said to have contravened the Provisions of Sections 18(a) of the Money Laundering (Prohibition) (Amendment) Act, 2012.

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