By Olaolu Oladipo, Lagos
A prosecution witness, Tosin Owobo has narrated before a Federal High Court sitting in Lagos how a former Chief of Air Staff, Adesola Amosu, and others converted about N1.8 billion to private use.
Amosu 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 – 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 are being prosecuted by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) before Justice Mohammed Idris.
They were arraigned on June 26 and had pleaded not guilty to the charges, with the judge granting them bail in the sum of N500 million each with two sureties each in like sum.
At the resumed hearing of the case on Thursday, Owobo, an Assistant Detective Superintendent with the EFCC, testified before Justice Mohammed Idris.
He said that in 2015, the Commission received an intelligence report on large scale misappropriation of funds in the Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency (NIMASA).
Owobo said that the report was from a special task force saddled with the responsibility of investigating government agencies.
He said that upon receiving the report, the commission discovered that there was a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) between NIMASA and the Nigerian Air Force (NAF).
The witness said that the first set of the MOU was signed by a former Chief of Air Staff, Alex Badeh.
He said that after receiving the MOU, his team requested for the payment vouchers between NIMASA and NAF, and they discovered that a total sum of N1.8 billion was paid to some Bureau De Change operators.
According to him, the operators later converted the money into United State Dollars.
The witness said that the monies were paid into the account of one Gbadebo domiciled with Skye Bank.
He further informed the court that the Commission analysed the accounts, and called for the account opening documents.
At this point in his testimony, defence counsel, Chief Bolaji Ayorinde, raised objection to the witness giving evidence in relation to the statements of the Bureau De Change operators.
His objection was also adopted by other defence counsel.
The situation forced the court to adjourn the case to January 25 and 26, to rule on whether the witness can give evidence on the bureau de change operators’ statements.
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 Air force to their own use.
In another, the EFCC alleged that Amosu and the others stole over N323 million from the accounts of the Nigerian Air Force between March 21, 2014 and March 12, 2015.
The anti-graft body said the accused carried out the theft for the purpose of purchasing for themselves a property situated at No.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.
Witness tells court how Amosu, ex-Airforce boss stole N1.8b
By Olaolu Oladipo, Lagos