By Ikechukwu Nnochiri
ABUJA — The Abuja Division of the Court of Appeal has upturned the acquittal of erstwhile Chief of Administration of the Nigerian Air Force Headquarters, Air Vice Marshal Alkali Mamu (retd), who was accused by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, EFCC, of receiving gratification from contractors.
The appellate court reversed a 2018 judgement of trial Justice Salisu Garba of the High Court of the Federal Capital Territory in Maitama, which discharged and acquitted Mamu on the premise that the EFCC failed to prove the corruption case it entered against him.
It held that Mamu who is a former Group Managing Director of NAF Holding Company and Air Force Commanding, Training Command, was guilty of the charge against him.
According to a statement that was signed by the Head, Media & Publicity of the EFCC, Dele Oyewale, the three-man panel of Justices of the appellate court, in a unanimous judgement, convicted and sentenced Mamu to two years imprisonment in respect of one of the four-count charge against him.
However, the statement disclosed that in the judgement that was read by Justice Yargata Nimpar and concurred by other members of the panel, Justices Abdu Aboki and Emmanuel Agim, the appellate court acquitted the former Air Force boss on three other counts of the charge.
It revealed that Mamu was one of the senior military officers accused of abusing their positions by the Presidential Committee on the Audit of Defence Equipment Procurement (CADEP), which was mandated to look into contracts awarded for military procurement.
Though the EFCC filed a four-count charge against him in 2016, the trial court dismissed the case and acquitted the Defendant.
While reversing the decision, the Court of Appeal, faulted the judgement of the trial court.
Justice Nimpar held that the trial court acted wrongly by rejecting a confessional statement that was made to investigators by Mamu, which the prosecution tendered in evidence at trial.
He held that “the trial court failed in its duty by applying principles of law in a flawed manner, leading to the striking out of the confessional statement.
“He (the trial judge) erred. There was no legal basis for that action. Considering the evidence before the court, there was corroboration for the confessional statement particularly, the SEI Ltd’s payment for the cars, to the fertilizer company in which his (Mamu’s) daughters are directors.
“I find the confessional statement good to be evaluated for weight. I, therefore, disagree with the trial judge and find that the confessional statement was properly in evidence and must be evaluated along other pieces of evidence before the court.
“The sum of $300,000 was not legitimate income from his (Mamu’s) employers. Mr. Hima Aboubakar was not respondent’s employer and had no business paying the respondent any sum as appreciation. This is coming at the backdrop of the admission by the respondent that he got more than he was allegedly entitled to.
“On count two, I find for the appellant that it proved the allegation beyond a reasonable doubt. I find the respondent guilty on count two. On counts one, three and four, there was no direct admission and even though it was established that the respondents got cars paid for by SEI Nig Ltd (Hima Aboubakar) and delivered by Coscharis.
“Flowing from above therefore, the respondent is discharged and acquitted on counts one, three and four of the charge, but guilty of count two.
“Considering the circumstances and the facts in this appeal, particularly the fact that the respondent quickly refunded the sum of $300,000, there is no history of previous conviction before the court. Therefore, in exercise of the court’s discretion, the respondent is hereby sentenced to two years’ imprisonment and in the alternative, an option of N500, 000 fine,” Justice Nimpar added.