The ongoing trial of a former Chief of Defence Staff, Alex S. Badeh, continued last week Wednesday, May 11, before Justice Okon Abang of the Federal High Court sitting in Maitama, Abuja, with the re-examination of a prosecution witness, Squadron Leader Emmanuel Abu, a cashier with the Nigerian Air Force, who stated that between N900m and N1.3bn was released monthly from the NAF Headquarters for personnel emolument and salaries.
He said the balance from salaries meant for non-regular allowances, training and operations were transferred to five other accounts: three with Zenith Bank, one with Diamond Bank and one with UBA.
According to him,“The funds in the five accounts are used to augment the NAF overhead expenditure like estacodes, non-regular allowances, training and operations and purchase of aviation fuel.”
Emmanuel stated that approval came from the Chief of Air Staff before funds were disbursed, adding that in November 2012, he received a standing verbal instruction from the then Camp Financial Officer, M.L. Simi, who was then Group Captain of the Nigerian Air Force, that the sum of N558.2m be set aside monthly for the Headquarter NAF training and operational purposes.
He added: “The Camp Financial Officer, M.L Simi informed me that the monies be converted to USD except there were contrary instructions to it. I complied with the instruction and I converted the said amount monthly from November 2012 to December, 2013.
“Within 14 months, a total of N7.8b was set aside; and from the said amount, I received an instruction to transfer a total sum of N410m to AFCO Nigeria Limited and a total of N875m was converted to dollars.
“We sourced for dollar by either withdrawing cash or we did direct transfer to Bureau De Change from NAF’s account to theirs and I handed the monies monthly to M.L Simi in his office. The only exception was in December 2012 when he asked me to take him with the money to the Chief of Air Force Guest House in Niger Barracks, where he met with the then DFA, Air Commodore S.A. Yushau. I dropped him off there with the money and left.
“Vouchers were raised for the N558.2m, while transferring the balance of the personnel emolument to five other accounts we operate. The vouchers are raised and retired from the personnel emolument account, but vouchers are not raised when monies are spent from the other five accounts.”
He told the court, during cross-examination by defence counsel, Akinlolu Olujimi, SAN, that “All instructions carried out were from the Camp Financial Officer; I never took instructions from the first defendant. As a matter of fact, the first defendant met me for the first time on May 9, 2016 just outside the court room.
“I cannot confirm if the first defendant is a signatory to any account. But he is not a signatory to any of the accounts I mentioned today; the Camp Financial Officer and I are the sole signatories.”
When the defence further asked him why he said there were no vouchers raised for the N558.2m when PWI Air Commodore Yushau had insisted there were vouchers, he said: “I have no official records because the Camp Financial Officer was the custodian of it all; I was only assisting him. All payments were signed by the Camp Financial Officer and me, but I received the USD from the BDC because I was the interfacer( sic).’’
Badeh is being prosecuted alongside Iyalikam Nigeria Limited by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, EFCC, for offences bordering on money laundering to the tune of over N3.9bn.
The case has been adjourned to May 18, 2016 for continuation of trial. [EFCC]
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