Alex Enumah in Abuja
A Federal High Court in Abuja has adjourned till April 27 for the continuation of further cross examination of a prosecution witness of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC), Air Commodore Salisu Yushau, in the ongoing trial of former Chief of Defence Staff (CDS), Air Marshall Alex Badeh, over alleged corruption charges.
Justice Okon Abang adjourned proceedings shortly after counsel in the matter announced their appearances.
Abang said though the court was ready to take further cross-examination of the witness, he had to rise in preparation for other assignments for the next day.
The case involving Badeh and the federal government was called around 3.33p.m. yesterday.
At the last adjournment, the witness under cross examination admitted that most of the statements he made as evidence in court were not contained in his earlier statement with the EFCC.
Counsel to the first defendant, Akin Olujimi (SAN), told the court that Yushau had so far made 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 at the EFCC.
Also, when the witness was asked whether he told the EFCC that he has more to say during the interrogation then, and the EFCC did not oblige him, he said “no.”
Yashau further contradicted himself when he was cross examined on the mode of payment for a shopping complex purportedly belonging to Badeh.
In his earlier statement with EFCC, he had claimed 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, an Architect, Yashau disclosed that based on the directive of his boss, he had engaged Saka to draw the building plan for the shopping complex.
On the balance payment for the land acquired for shopping complex, the witness admitted instructing the Command Finance Officer (CFO) of the Nigerian Air Force headquarters to pay the remaining 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,” he said.
The witness also 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 Ryte Builder’s 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, purportedly owned by Badeh, the witness admitted knowing one Hussein Umar, a Barrister, 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 it 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?” Yashau was asked, “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.
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 N3.97billion from NAF’s account.
The anti-graft agency accused Badeh of using the fund to buy and develop landed assets in Abuja for himself and his two sons between January and December 2013.
He however pleaded not guilty to the charges.
The defence is expected to continue their cross examination of the witness when the case resumes next week.