……as seven witnesses gear up to testify against him

By Ikechukwu Nnochiri

ABUJA – The Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, EFCC, on Wednesday, re-arraigned the former Chief of Air Staff, Air Marshal Mohammed Dikko Umar before the Federal High Court in Abuja over alleged N4.8billion fraud.

Umar was alleged to have used funds he siphoned from accounts of the Nigerian Air Force, NAF, between September 2010 to December 2012, and purchased six choice properties in Abuja, Kano and Kaduna State.

In the charge marked FHC/ABJ/CR/92/ 2016, EFCC alleged that the former Air Force boss transferred N66million into the Stanbic IBTC account No. 9202077424 belonging to Capital Law office, from NAF operations account domiciled at UBA Plc, for the renovation/improvement of a house at No 1853 Deng Xiao Ping Street, Off Mahathir Mohammed Street, Asokoro Extension Abuja.

It told the court that Umar had between September and December 2012 in Abuja, used the Dollar equivalent of N500m removed from NAF account to purchase a four Bedroom Duplex with Boys Quarters at Road 3B Street 2, Mabushi Ministers Hill, Abuja.

As well as used the US Dollar equivalent of N250m to purchase a property situated at No 14, Audu Bako Way, G.R.A. Kano State, in 2011.

Meanwhile, the defendant who was earlier docked before the high court on May 11, 2016, pleaded not guilty to the charge before Justice Nnamdi Dimgba, even as his lawyer, Mr. Hassan Liman, SAN, applied for his release on bail.

Liman prayed the court to allow his client to go home on self-recognition as he was previously allowed to do by Justice Binta Nyako who was hitherto in charge of the case.

Though EFCC lawyer, Mr. Tahir Sylvanus did not oppose Umar’s bail request, he however urged the court to impose some conditions.

“My lord we at the EFCC were not comfortable that Justice Nyako earlier gave the defendant bail on self-recognition. We will however leave it to the discretion of the court”, Tahir submitted.

In a bench ruling, Justice Dimgba directed the defendant to surrender his international passports, as well as produce two sureties who must not only own landed properties in Abuja, but must also depose to an affidavit of means before the court.

The court fixed February 13 and 16 for the commencement of hearing.

Umar who headed the NAF from September 9, 2010 to October 4, 2012, was in count-seven, alleged to have used N700m that was withdrawn from NAF account to purchase a property at No 14 Vistula Close, Off Panama Street, Maitama Abuja.

The prosecution maintained that the defendant committed an offence contrary section 15(2)(b) of the Money Laundering Prohibition Act 2011, as amended.

EFCC said it has lined up seven witnesses who it said are ready to testify against the defendant.

One of the charges against Umar read: “That you, Air Marshal Mohammed Dikko Umar, whilst being the Chief of Air Staff, Nigerian Air Force between September 2010 to September 2012 in Abuja, within the jurisdiction of the court directly converted the United States Dollars equivalent of the aggregate sum of N4846000 (Four billion, eight hundred and forty six million, six hundred and thirty thousand naira) only removed from the accounts of the Nigerian Air Force, when you reasonably ought to have known that the said funds formed part of the proceeds of your unlawful activity, to wit, criminal breach of trust and corruption, and you thereby committed an offence contrary section 15(2)(b) of the Money Laundering Prohibition Act 2011 as amended and punishable under Section 15(3) of the same Act”.

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