Mustapha Yerima, a building contractor and owner of Life Builders Technologies Limited, told the court he assisted Badeh to buy the land on which he was asked to build a shopping mall for the ex-Chief of Air Staff.
The witness, who said the original N1.2 billion cost of the project was later reviewed upward, attributed the review partly to an alteration made to the shopping mall’s original design by Badeh’s son – Alex Badeh (Jnr). He said the alteration cost N17 million.
Yerima was, however, silent on whether or not Mr. Ayodele Fayose, who was the original allottee of the land, is the same as Ekiti State governor.
Yerima, the fourth prosecution witness, who was led in evidence by lead prosecution lawyer, Rotimi Jacobs (SAN), said he met Badeh through a former Director of Finance and Account of the Nigerian Air Force (NAF), Air Commodore Aliyu Yishau (rtd).
Yishau, had while testifying as the first prosecution witness, told the court how, on Badeh’s instruction, he assisted him in acquiring property both in and outside Abuja. He also told the court how he delivered United State dollars equivalent of N558.2 million to Badeh monthly from the remnant of NAF’s monthly salaries.
Badeh is being tried on a 10-count with a firm, Iyalikam Nigeria Limited, on charges of money laundering and diversion of public funds estimated at about N3.97 billion.
Yerima, dressed in brown kaftan, said: “I am a contractor, Life Builders Technology Limited. I do partnership with other companies. But I am the Managing Director of Life Builders.
“Sometimes around 2013, I got information that the NAF, through the Directorate of Works and Nigerian Air Force Property Limited, was shopping for vendor, who could partner with them for construction of a conference centre.
“While we were finding out the nature of the job, I got to understand that they are looking for technical assistance. Life Builder was a young company at that time, so I decided to contact a friend of mine, who was also a contractor.
“He is the owner of Edile Company because he has capacity. So, I bided with him for the job. We were lucky, we got the job. Then, Air Marshal Umar was the Chief of Air Staff. A year into the project, there was a change of command and Air Chief Marshal Badeh became the Chief of Air Staff.
“While on his official tour carried out by the NAF, he (Badeh) visited our site, which was NAF Conference Centre. We took him round the project and we showed him all the facilities. He was very impressed that an indigenous contractor could do a wonderful job because the finishings were nice.
“Soon after that, he left. Some few weeks or months later, the Director of Finance, Air Commodore Yishau (PW1) approached me and said his boss was very pleased with our job. And that his boss wanted to give us a job. Then, he scheduled a meeting.
“He told me the nature of the job and that it was the construction of a mall. Soon after that, Yishau called me again that they were ready to embark on the project. That we should look for a commercial plot within the city centre.
“Before we could find one, Yishau called that they had found one along Aminu Kano Crescent. Then, he engaged us to negotiate for the land. He gave us a copy of the C of O (Certificate of Occupancy).
“I got to know that the land was in the name of one Fayose Ayodele. Soon after, we tried to contact the owner. Yishau called again that they had found the person, who bought the land from Mr. Ayodele Fayose.
“Then we contacted the person. It was one Mr. Tony (I can’t remember the other name). He is the owner of Itex Furnitures. We got to him and we realised that he sold to the third party by the name Kasagro Investments Limited.
“We now spoke to Air Commodore Yishau to find out. He then directed us to negotiate with Kasangro Investments Limited. We got to Kasangro Investments Limited, he then named his price, N650 million.
“Then, we went back to Air Commodore Yishau to tell him the price. Then he said he would get back to us. Then he called us and gave us N650 million dollar equivalent because Kasagro insisted on cash payment.
“We then took the money to his office. He confirmed and gave us all the original documents for the land. I then called Air Commodore Yishau to ask for which name the deed of assignment and power of attorney should be executed and Yishau told me to execute the documents in the name of my company, that is – Life Builders Technologies, which would later be transferred to another company after he had discussed with his boss, in the person of Air Chief Marshal Badeh.
“We did exactly as he said because at that time, our interest was to construct the shopping complex. We then handed over the land’s original documents to Air Commodore Yishau,” Yerima said.