Alex Enumah in Abuja
A prosecution witness of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC), Air Commodore Salisu Yushau, on Tuesday admitted that most of the information he gave in evidence in the trial of former Chief of Defence Staff (CDS), Air Marshall Alex Badeh, was not part of information given to the commission when he made his statement last year.
The witness, a former Director of Finance, Nigerian Air force Headquarters, disclosed this during cross examination by Akin Olujimi (SAN), lead counsel to Badeh.
Badeh, alongside his firm, Iyalikam Nigeria Limited, is being prosecuted by the EFCC on a 10-count charge of money laundering bordering on alleged fraudulent removal of about N3.97 billion from the Nigerian Air Force’s account.
The anti-graft agency accused Badeh of using the fund to buy and develop landed assets in Abuja for himself and two of his sons between January and December 2013.
He however pleaded not guilty to the charges.
At the resumed hearing, the witness who was subjected to further cross examination admitted that most of the statements he made as evidence in court were not contained in his earlier statement with the EFCC. According to the defence counsel, Yushau so far made only five distinct statements with the EFCC.
When asked by the defence counsel the reason he left out substantial part of the evidence when he made the statement, he said his answers were only based on the questions he was asked by the EFCC.
But when also asked whether he told the EFCC that he had more to say during the interrogation then, he said he did not.
The witness further contradicted himself when he was cross examined on the mode of payment for a shopping complex purportedly belonging to Badeh.
Yushau had earlier told EFCC in one of his statement that the money for the development of the shopping complex was paid in dollars at once, but later admitted it was an error. “I cannot remember saying ‘once’ but if I said so, it was an error,” the witness said.
Also, when questioned on his relationship with one Saka, the witness disclosed that based on the directive of his boss, he had engaged Saka to draw the building plan for the shopping complex.
And when asked if he was the one who paid Saka for the drawing project, he initially said the man was not paid, only for him to turn around to say he asked Mustapha Yerima, the Managing Director, Ryte Builders, the construction company that handled the shopping complex, “to give something to Saka.”
Yushau said: “After the construction job was given to Yerima, an engineer, on the instruction of my boss, I called him to give Saka ‘something’ since the job was not given to him, and I was told he gave him N10 million.”
On the balance payment for the land acquired for the shopping complex, the witness admitted instructing the Command Finance Officer (CFO) of the Nigerian Air Force Headquarters to pay the balance; but maintained that he never instructed that the money be transferred in naira to Ryte Builders Limited account.
“I was aware that N558 million was in NAF account when I instructed the CFO to pay after he was supposed to change it to dollars. Instead, he transferred the money in naira into the account of Ryte Builders. I did not ask him to transfer the balance in naira,” the witness said.
“Will it surprise you that the evidence you gave was different? What you told the court with regards to the payment for the construction was different from the evidence you gave.
“From your evidence, you instructed Group Captain Sinni, the then Command’s Finance Officer, to pay the balance of the payment for the land to Yerima from the money you took to your boss every month but later when you visited EFCC, you said Sinni paid in dollars,” Olujimi stated.
Responding, the witness admitted that he did tell EFCC that Captain Sinni paid the money in dollars but that he had already made his statement before realising that it was transferred from NAF account to Rytebuilders account.
“That statement was given before I knew that my CFO transferred the money in naira instead of paying him in dollars.” Yashau maintained.
On the property at No. 6, Ogun River Street, Maitama, Abuja, a property purportedly owned by Badeh, the witness admitted knowing one Hussein Umar, who on the instruction of his boss, Badeh, was used to buy the property.
He stated that when Umar got a choice property, he took him and his boss to inspect the property before it was purchased. But when asked if he included such in his statement with the EFCC, he said ‘no’. “In your statement with EFCC, did you say you went with Badeh? “I did not say so,” the witness answered.
The defence counsel also put it to the witness, that all he said in evidence in the court were not stated in his statement with EFCC, to which he affirmed.
The case was adjourned till 11.30 a.m. today for further cross examination of the witness.