By Omooba Kenneth Aigbegbele
He spent 38 years, 6 months, 10 days in his career and has risen to the highest position in the Nigerian Military.
Air Chief Marshal Alexander Sabundu Badeh, former Chief of Defence Staff (CDS) is a native of Vimtim, in Mubi North Local Government Council of Adamawa State, a minority Christian General from the Northeast, who rose to the position by dint of hard work and providence, a pinnacle that every general should be proud of.
Alex Badeh is a four- star general, a position which looking at the history of the military, is rightfully reserved for officers who have distinguished themselves in service and character and have worked diligently to achieve such eminent positions.
A dedicated Airforceman, Air Chief Marshall Alex S. Badeh served his country very well and shattered the glass ceiling of the minorities in the military, becoming the first minority Christian General from the Northeast…till date, and as would be admitted to by even his most vociferous detractors, never in the history of the Nigerian Airforce has there been as much professional and infrastructural development as happened during his tenure as Chief of Air Staff.
“Today, he is being humiliated and his stellar reputation being damaged all in a bid to look for evidence to nail this minority general who fought Boko Haram to a standstill for the general elections of 2015.
The operatives who searched and turned his residence upside down have the guts to refer to his abode as “theirs” and have no respect whatsoever for the former ebullient number one military officer of the land.
In further manifestation of their boundless desire to harass and humiliate the former Chief of Defense Staff, even his family have not been spared by the operatives who have gone as far as intimidating his wife and children all in a bid to impugn the integrity of the general.
As the trial unfolds, it is becoming increasingly clear. Even to people untrained in jurisprudence, that there is something sinister about the prosecution’s case against the former Chief of Defense Staff.
Firstly, the cross examination of principal witness, Air Commodore Yushau (rtd), which is still ongoing, has been mired by a litany of misstatements, errors and contradicting statements which is increasingly confusing the discerning public.
For instance, the case against the former Chief of Defense Staff is that as Chief of Air Staff, he “removed money from the accounts of the Nigerian Air force” whereas Yushau testified that the former Chief of Defense Staff was not a signatory to the NAF accounts.
Additionally, and per testimony of Yushau, the monthly allocation for the maintenance and upkeep of the office of the Chief of Air Staff is a practice that predated Badeh’s tenure as Chief of Air Staff.
Yushau also admitted to being the one who informed Badeh of the existence of the monthly allocation, having been a participant in it during his tenure as Director of Finance and Accounts to the Badeh’s predecessor, AirMarshall M. D. Umar (rtd).
Again, at the commencement of the criminal proceedings, the EFCC prosecutor, Mr. Rotomi Jacobs, SAN, made reference to a $1million allegedly recovered during the search of the former Chief of Defense Staff’s residence, conducted in his absence and without his consent.
He further promised that the $1million will be produced at trial. Now, the prosecution’s case is well underway and till date, no mention has been made of the $1million, nor has there been any indication that the prosecution is intending to produce the money, or evidence thereof, and make it available to the defense as required by law.
Accordingly, Yushau, also changed his statements when he said the money was paid once after he had already written same in the statement to the EFCC and had to renege by saying it was paid in installments when cross-examined by Chief Olujimi.
He went further to say, he gave instruction for the money to be paid in dollars not knowing it was paid in naira. All these contradictory statements put paid to the perception in public domain that the “powers that be” are out to get at Badeh, no matter what. These evidences emanating from the court have dented the character and image of the star witness and dealt a great blow to their case file as to the true nature of what really transpired and what was concocted.
Air Vice Marshal Badeh’s footprints will remain indelible in the annals as one general, who looked beyond his immediate surrounding and challenges to put his footprints on the sand of time. He entered and partnered the Pakistan Airforce when he was CDS, the military collaboration provided the Nigerian Airforce with instructors, and capacity building on the maintenance of airports and training of pilots for the F-7NI FT-7NI and C-130 troops transport planes, Nigeria has had these planes since 2009, but it was during Badeh’s tenure that the planes were put to use. In 2014, he solicited Air Force scientists to restore a wind tunnel that had been abandoned since 1987, which can only be found in South Africa.
The military APRON (hanger) which had been abandoned since 1987 was completed in 2014; it is now the main Airforce base from where all planes takes off for the all-important fight against terrorism in the North East. He also commissioned 30 gun boats for the Joint Task Force (JTF) in the Niger Delta to boost war against theft and pipeline vandalism and established the Armed Forces Radio Broadcasting Station from Mogadishu Cantonment on 107.7FM to tackle the challenges of the negative and inaccurate media coverage against the Nigerian military during the on-going war against terrorism in the North-East.
He remodeled the Nigeria Defence Headquarters and embarked on the extension of the DHQ complex to include befitting joint operations rooms, conference rooms and the NAF conference facility and the construction of primary and secondary schools across Air force bases in the country.
Under his leadership, emphasis was given to home grown initiative for self-reliance, as the army embarked on the local training of UAV pilots and local production of the 1st indigenous drones Gulma 1&2, which saved the country enormous resources and the first to patronize Zaria Industries Ltd for the procurement of kits for our troops while previous administrations relied on imports and also initiated the training of 30 pilots locally at the International Flight Academy in Ilorin, Kwara State, a shift from the tradition of training pilots outside the country.
During the 2015 crucial general elections, he was saddled with the responsibility of military campaign that successfully liberated and secured most of the towns in the North East from Boko Haram within a limited time frame to allow for safe conducting of the elections.
Accordingly, in the face of this, Badeh remains a hero to his people, the Nigerian military and elite, who see nothing different from what Badeh had done from other previous CDS, (As it is the usual practice) as expunged by Yushau and that his legacies to the military and the country stand him out, Mr. President, Muhammadu Buhari, should grant him mercy and put a stop to this case against the military, and Badeh’s persecution.
Omoba Kenneth Aigbegbele is of Citizens Watch Nigeria (CWN)