The Federal High Court in Abuja, yesterday, adjourned further hearing on the 10-count criminal charge the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, EFCC, preferred against the former Chief of Defence Staff, Air Chief Marshal Alex Badeh, till April 12 and 19.
Trial Justice Okon Abang had originally slated yesterday for Badeh’s lawyer, Chief Akinolu Olujumi, SAN, to conclude his cross-examination of the star prosecution witness, Air Commodore Salisu Abdullahi Yushau,
The witness was formerly the Director of Finance and Accounts at the Nigerian Air Force, NAF. However, the matter could not proceed as scheduled yesterday as trial of the National Publicity Secretary of the Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, consumed the judicial time of the court. Metuh’s case which lasted over eight hours, led the court to ask both counsel to the EFCC and that of the defendant to agree on the new date.
Yushau had earlier revealed before the court how Badeh who was alleged to have siphoned over N3.9billion from account of the Nigerian Air Force within 2013, monthly diverted N558.2million from funds meant for the payment of salaries of NAF officials. The witness told the court that all the past Air Chief Marshals equally siphoned the same amount monthly when they were in office.
The ex-NAF Finance Director who started his Evidence-In-Chief on March 16, told the court that no one dared to query all the former Air Chiefs on how they expended the diverted funds
“The practice of setting aside the N558.2m was already there even before I was appointed as the Director of Finance in 2010”, he stated. He told the court that the system was in place when he served under former Air Chief Marshal M.D. Umar from October 2010 to October 2012. Umar is equally under the investigative lens of the EFCC.
Yushau said he duly briefed Badeh about how his predecessors handled funds that accrued to the NAF when he assumed office and he decided to continue the practice. While being cross-examined by the defence lawyer, the witness said: “I gave the Chief the complete brief of the financial position of the Nigerian Air Force when he was appointed.
From then he took control of the expenditure of the balance of N558.2m which we monthly deducted from the salary account”. He told the court that Badeh diverted the funds for his personal use. Badeh was in the charge marked FHC/ABJ/CR/46/2016, alleged to have used the looted funds to purchase choice properties within the highbrow areas in Abuja.
According to the anti-graft agency, Badeh had between January and December, 2013, used dollar equivalent of the sum of N650m, to purchase a commercial plot of land situate at plot 1386, Oda Crescent, Cadastral Zone, A07, Wuse II, Abuja. Badeh was said to have between March 28 and December 5, 2013, paid the sum of N878, 362, 732, 94 (Eight Hundred and Seventy-Eight Million, Three Hundred and Sixty Two Thousand, Seven Hundred and Thirty-Two Naira, Ninety-Four Kobo) which he removed from the account of the Nigerian Air Force, into the account of Rytebuilders Technologies Limited with Zenith Bank Plc, for the construction of a shopping mall on the plot.
He was also alleged to have diverted another dollar equivalent of N304m to the firm, Rytebuilders Technologies Limited, for the completion of the shopping mall. Whereas EFCC, in count five of the charge, alleged that Badeh used dollar equivalent of the sum of N260m which he removed from the accounts of the Nigerian Air Force and paid to one Ouwatoyin Oke through Platinum Universal Project and Construction to purchase a duplex for his son, Alex Badeh Jnr, it said the defendant further used N60m to renovate the property situate at No 19 Kumai Crescent, Wuse II, Abuja
The prosecution alleged in count-seven of the charge that Badeh used N90m to furnish the said duplex he bought for his son. The commission told the court that Badeh Jnr. was on the run. Besides, EFCC, in count-eight of the charge, alleged that the defendant used the sum of $2m, equivalent of the sum of N330m, which he removed from the coffers of the Nigerian Air Force, and paid one honourable Bature to purchase another duplex for him at No. 14 Adzope Crescent, Off Kumasi Crescent, Wuse II, Abuja, as well as gave one Rabiu Isyaku Rabiu the dollar equivalent of the sum of N240m to purchase a semi-detached duplex at No 8A Embu Street, for him.
In count nine, EFCC alleged that Badeh and his son (at large), sometime in April 2014, in Abuja, “did use dollar equivalent of the sum of N62, 000, 000.00 (Sixty Two Million Naira only) removed rom the accounts of the Nigerian Air Force and paid Kabiru Sallau/Platinum Universal Projects to renovate a private property situate at No. 2 Nelson Mandela Street, Asokoro, Abuja, when you reasonably ought to have known that the said funds formed part of the proceed of unlawful activity (to wit: criminal breach of trust and corruption) Air Chief Marshal Alex S. Badeh and you thereby committed an offence contrary to section 15(2) (d) of the Money Laundering (Prohibition) Act, 2011 (as amended) and punishable under section 15(3) of the same Act”.
The PW-1, Yushau had earlier told the court that Badeh instructed that the N558.2m that was set-aside for him every month, must always be converted to its dollar equivalent and brought to him at his official residence at Niger Barracks in Abuja. He said the former military chief never signed any document to confirm his monthly receipt of the fund.
“I cannot remember exactly the figure for the salary and allowances of the Chief of Air Staff, but I do know that the salary is above N2m every month. I never got anything from the N558.2m.
“When this money is exchanged, it is brought to me and I take it to the Chief of Air Force at his official residence in Niger Barracks. As military officers, in such situation, we don’t request for any acknowledgment.
However, in some cases, I do tell the finance officer to meet me at the Air House in Nigeria Barracks with the money so that he can see when I hand over the money to the Chief of Air Staff. “The instruction for the conversion of the money from the Chief of Air Staff was usually verbal.
The over N558.2m was retired every month as salaries by B&Accounting group”. The witness however admitted that Badeh helped him to complete a mansion at Wuse district in Abuja, which he eventually sold, used the proceed and bought two houses in Kaduna. He told the court that all the houses have been sealed by the EFCC