Alex Badeh

Tobi Soniyi in Abuja

A former Chief of Defence Staff (CDS), Air Chief Marshal Alex Badeh (rtd), monday pleaded not guilty to the 10-count charge filed against him by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) at the Federal High Court in Abuja.

He was however ordered to be remanded at Kuje Prison by the trial judge, Justice Okon Abang, pending the determination of his bail application which is fixed for March 10.

Badeh was arraigned for alleged fraud relating to the diversion of N3.9 billion meant for the purchase of arms for the Nigerian military.

His counsel Samuel Zibiri (SAN) made an attempt to argue his bail application, but the court held that it was premature in view of the fact that it was filed before the arraignment.

Justice Abang in his ruling held that the application for bail filed by Badeh was not competent because it was filed before his arraignment and the court could only have jurisdiction to hear the application after his arraignment.

The court struck out the motion and ordered that a fresh bail application be filed.

On the order of the court, Badeh would remain in Kuje Prison pending the hearing and determination of his bail application.

Justice Abang said that proper trial of the case would start on March 14 and would be heard on a day-to-day basis in line with the court practice direction.

He warned that his court would not entertain frivolous adjournments and delays while urging the prosecution to prepare its witnesses.

The 10-count charge bordered on criminal breach of trust and corruption.

The former defence chief was accused of unlawfully using funds meant for the Nigerian Air Force (NAF) to purchase landed properties in highbrow areas in Abuja between January and December 2013, while serving as the Chief of Air Staff.

The EFCC alleged that Badeh as Chief of Air Staff, acting in conjunction with a company, Iyalikam Nig Ltd, between January and December 2013 used the dollar equivalent of N1.1 billion, removed from the accounts of the NAF, to purchase for themselves a mansion at Maitama, Abuja.

According to the anti graft agency, the accused person “reasonably ought to have known that the said funds formed part of the proceeds of unlawful activity (to wit) criminal breach of trust and corruption”.

The offence, the EFCC said, was contrary to Section 15(2)(d) of Money Laundering (Prohibition) Act and is punishable under Section 15(3) of the same Act.

Badeh and the company were also accused of removing from the accounts of the NAF, and diverting the dollar equivalent of N650 million to purchase a commercial plot at Plot 1386 Oda Crescent, Cadastral zone A07, Wuse II, Abuja.

The offence, the EFCC said, was contrary to Section 15(2)(d) of Money Laundering (Prohibition) Act and punishable under Section 15(3) of the same Act.

The defendants were said to have, between March 28 and December 2013, in Abuja, used N878,362,732.94 removed from NAF accounts and paid into the account of Rytebuilders Technologies Ltd with Zenith Bank Plc for the construction of a shopping mall at Plot 1386 Cadastral Zone.

It was equally alleged that the defendants removed the sum of N304 million from the accounts of the NAF and paid it to Rytebuilders for the completion of the shopping mall.

EFCC stated that the accused used the dollar equivalent of N260 million, removed from the NAF accounts, and paid to one Oluwatoyin Oke through Platinum Universal Project and Construction to purchase for his son, Alex Badeh (Jr), a duplex at No 19 Kumasi Crescent, Wuse, Abuja.

Count six stated that Badeh used the dollar equivalent of N60 million, removed from the NAF accounts, to renovate his son’s house, while count seven alleged that the retired air force chief used the dollar equivalent of N90 million, removed from the NAF accounts, to furnish his son’s house at Kumasi Crescent.