By Ikechukwu Nnochiri
ABUJA — Former Director of Finance and Accounts at the Nigerian Air Force, NAF, Air Commodore Salisu Abdullahi Yushau (retd), yesterday, revealed before the Federal High Court sitting in Abuja, that all past Air Chief Marshals, diverted N558.2 million monthly from funds meant for the payment of salaries of Nigerian Air Force officials.
Yushau made the disclosure at the continued trial of the immediate past Chief of Defence Staff, Air Chief Marshal Alex Badeh, who was alleged to have siphoned over N3.9 billion from account of the force in 2013.
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 N558.2 million was already there, even before I was appointed as the Director of Finance in 2010,” the witness added.
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.
The witness, who was cross-examined by Badeh’s lawyer, Chief Akin Olujumi, SAN, 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 N558.2 million which we monthly deducted from the salary account.”
He told the court that Badeh diverted the funds for his personal use.
Meanwhile, trial Justice Okon Abang has adjourned the matter till April 8 for further cross-examination of the witness by Badeh’s lawyer.
Badeh loses bid to vary bail conditions
Earlier, Justice Okon declined to vary an aspect of the terms upon which the court granted Badeh bail on March 10.
Badeh had, through his lawyer, complained that though he had perfected the bail conditions, among which was that he must deposit N2 billion, he said the EFCC refused to approve the bail documents endorsed by his sureties.
Consequently, he urged the court to vary the aspect of the ruling that stipulated that the prosecution must verify and confirm that the bail terms had been perfected by the defendant before he could be released from Kuje prison.
While refusing the prayer, Justice Abang held that the appropriate thing for Badeh to do was to either initiate contempt action against the EFCC or apply for an alternate relief.
He said Badeh was empowered by Section 318 of the 1999 constitution to apply for Form 48 to be issued against the EFCC for disobeying a valid order of the court.
At the end of the trial, armed prison officials escorted Badeh back to his cell at Kuje prison.