A Federal High Court in Abuja heard on Thursday that the monthly diversion of N558.2m from the salary account of the Nigerian Air Force (NAF) predates the immediate past Chief of Air Staff, Alex Badeh.
A former Director of Finance and Account of the NAF, Air Commodore Aliyu Yishau (retd) told the court that the practice had become a tradition in NAF and that he served Badeh’s immediate predecessor, Mohammed Dikko Umar, who equally benefitted from the diversion.
Yishau, who testified in the trial of Badeh, said the diversion was always done under the sub-head: “General Administration of the Chief of Air Staff.”
Badeh and a firm, Iyalikam Nigeria Limited are being tried on a10-count charge of money laundering, in which the ex-COAS is accused of N3.97bn belonging to NAF, which he deployed to acquiring property, using the firm.
Yishau had earlier testified to the effect that he routinely assisted Badeh to divert N558.2m, which he always converted to dollar equivalent before handing same to Badeh at his official residence all through his time as COAS between September 2012 and December 2013.
Yishau said the N558.2m formed part of the leftover after salaries and allowances of permanent and temporary staff have been defrayed from the N4bn received monthly by NAF in its Personnel and Emolument account.
Yishau said the NAF received monthly allocations in its Capital Vote account with the Central Bank of Nigeria in Lagos; the Overhead Vote account with the Zenith Bank Plc and the Personnel and Emolument Vote account with the UBA.
He admitted assisting Badeh to acquire and develop landed property in Abuja with the N558.2m taken monthly from the NAF Personnel Emolument account.
“The practice of setting aside the N558, 200 had been there before I was became the Director of Finance and Account of the Nigerian Air Force.
“I did not know how the previous administrations before Air Chief Marshal Umar were using the money.”
Yishau said he, at no time specifically advise Badeh on the N558.2m which was usually set aside as “General Administration of the Chief of Air Staff” when Badeh newly assumed office.
”I gave the Chief of Air Staff, Air Chief Marshal Alex Badeh, a complete brief of the financial position of the Nigerian Air Force when he was appointed the Chief of Air Staff,” Badeh said.
The witness said Badeh became the Chief of Air Staff in September 2012, but Olujinmi faulted the claim saying his client was actually appointed on October 4, 2012 but took office on October 8, 2012.
Earlier, the trial judge, Justice Okon Abang acceded request by Olujinmi to do away with the aspect of his ruling requiring the prosecuting agency, the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) to confirm some the documents submitted in respect of the bail granted Badeh.
The judge had, on March 10 granted Badeh N2billion bail, with two sureties at N1b each, among other conditions. The judge requested the EFCC to confirm and verify all the documents submitted by the defendant.
Unable to perfect the bail on time, Badeh later applied to the court for a verification of the bail conditions.
Yesterday, Olujinmi elected to withdraw the application for the variation of bail conditions. He said his client was able to meet the bail conditions, but the the EFCC has failed to play their role by verifying his client’s documents within 24 hours.
Olujimin urged the court to do away with the role the EFCC ought to play, since it was unable to do so within the time allocated to him.
Justice Abang agreed with Olujinmi in his ruling, and agreed to sign Badeh’s bail documents once presented before him.
He eventually endorsed the documents around 5pm yesterday after the court had risen.
Further hearing in the case has been adjourned to April 8.
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