Air Marshal Mohammed Umar

A former Chief of Air Staff, rtd Air Marshal Mohammed Umar on Monday, told the Abuja Division of the Federal High Court that he did not transfer N66 million from the Nigerian Air Force (NAF) account.

Umar, led in evidence by his counsel, Mr Onyechi Ipeazu, SAN, told the court that he did not authorise such a transfer.

The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports that the court in February, acquitted Umar on six out of the seven-count money laundering charge by the EFCC.

The court however ordered him to defend himself on the seventh count.

The seventh count is on alleged transfer of N66 million from NAF account to the account of Capital Law Firm for the renovation of a house in Asokoro, Abuja

At the resumed hearing, Ipeazu told the court that his client was ready to open his defence as the court had ordered and that he would testify as the first defence witness.

As a witness, Umar told the court that he served in the NAF for 36 years adding that he was promoted to Air Marshall and appointed as the Chief of Air Staff on Sept. 8, 2010 and retired on Oct. 4, 2012.

The witness told the court that as the Chief Accounting Officer of NAF at that time he held sway, he was not the only person that authorised payments from NAF account.

“I was not the only person because there is a procurement planning committee that authorises payment of contracts and renovations and supply for NAF.

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“Also the director of finance and accounting is authorised to effect payment from the NAF account,” Umar told the court.”

Under cross-examination by the Prosecution Counsel, Mr Sylvanus Tahir, the ex-air chief told the court that the director of accounts only briefed him on transactions authorised by him and not on every transaction.

“The director of accounts briefed me on transactions that I approve, there are other financial transactions that go on such as payment of salaries which I do not need to know about,” he said.

When asked if he had other businesses while he was serving in the Air Force, Umar told the court that he owed farms in Abuja and Kaduna State of 17 and four hectares respectively.

The trial judge, Justice Nnamdi Dimgba adjourned the matter until September 30 for the continuation of cross-examination.

NAN reports that the EFCC filed a seven-count charge against Umar bordering on complicity in money laundering and procurement fraud, to the tune of about N9.7 billion.

The court, however, acquitted Umar on six out of the seven-count charge but ordered him to defend himself on the seventh count.

The court, in a ruling that was delivered byJustice Dimgba, said it found merit in the no-case submission Umar filed with regards to counts 1 to 6.

Justice Dimgba held that a holistic review of the totality of evidence before the court showed that the EFCC failed to establish a prima facie case that would warrant Umar to enter his defence for the six counts.

The judge maintained that the allegations in the counts were based on speculations, suspicion and assumptions.

The court, however, held that the former air chief had a case to answer with respect to count seven of the charge which bordered on allegations that he transferred N66 million from NAF account domiciled in a bank to a firm for the renovation of his property in Asokoro.

He subsequently dismissed the no-case submission in count seven and ordered Umar to open his defence in relation to the count.

(NAN)

Vanguard News Nigeria

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