BY ABDULAHI AHMED
Among high profile cases dominating the Nigerian public space today is the 10-count charge the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, EFCC, preferred against a former Chief of the Defence Staff, CDS, Air Chief Marshal Alex Badeh.
Badeh was arraigned before trial Justice Okon Abang of the Federal High Court in Abuja on March 7.
Specifically, EFCC, in the charge, marked FHC/ABJ/CR/46/2016, alleged that Badeh diverted over N3.9billion from the account of the Nigerian Air Force, NAF, in 2013.
The Commission told the court that the defendant used the money to purchase choice properties in Abuja.
Cited as the second defendant in the matter is a firm, Iyalikam Nigeria Limited.
Meanwhile, the agency has since called its star witness, who was the Director of Finance and Accounts at NAF, Air Commodore Salisu Abdullahi Yushau, retd, to testify before the court.
Yushua had, in his evidence-in-chief, narrated before the court how about N558.2million was monthly deducted from funds meant for the payment of salaries of NAF officials.
He insisted that he usually took the deducted funds to the former CDS at his then official residence at Niger Barracks in Abuja, after the money had been converted to dollars.
Led in evidence by the prosecuting counsel, Mr. Sylvanus Tahir, the witness also implicated some past Air Chiefs who he said also made such monthly illicit deduction.
While Yushua, under cross-examination, admitted that he was the Chief Accounting Officer for the Finance Directorate, he, however, claimed that Badeh posted a certain Group Capt. Sini to the department to take charge of the dollar conversion.
Remarkably, the witness, who told the trial court that he personally took the monthly deductions to Badeh, said he had no evidence to substantiate his claim.
The former NAF Finance Director said he could not produce any document to show that Badeh signed for or collected N558.2m monthly.
At the resumed hearing on April 12, Yushua said he never told the EFCC that the defendant used N90m to furnish a mansion he allegedly bought for his first son, Alex Badeh Jnr.
Yushua also denied allegation that he was coerced by operatives of the EFCC to implicate the former Defence Chief.
More so, the witness told the court that prior to his appointment as the CDS, Badeh hitherto held sway as the officer in charge of budget office of the NAF.
EFCC had alleged that Badeh, between January and December, 2013, used dollar equivalent of the sum 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 N878, 362, 732, 94 which he removed from the account of NAF 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 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 N260m, which he removed from the accounts of NAF and paid to one Oluwatoyin 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 situated 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 $2m, equivalent of the sum of N330m, which he removed from the coffers of NAF 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 removed from the accounts of NAF 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”.
As the trial proceeds, Nigerians would expect the prosecution to back its allegations with evidence.
It is trite law that he who alleges must prove!