Alleged N4.8bn Fraud: Ex-Air Force Chief, Umar Opts for Out-of-Court Settlement


Alex Enumah in Abuja
A former Chief of Air Staff, Air Marshall Mohammed Dikko Umar, standing trial on allegation of corruption to the tune of N4.8billion has told a Federal High Court sitting in Abuja that plans are on to get the matter settled out of court.

At the resumed hearing, yesterday, Umar through his lawyer Hassan Liman, informed the trial judge, Justice Binta Nyako, that he had made substantive efforts to get the matter settled out of court.
Liman particularly disclosed that his client had meetings with officials of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) where discussions were held on the subject matter.

He disclosed that the first meeting involving the head of legal department of the commission, the prosecution counsel and Umar was held on May 31, while another meeting was held on June 3.
Present at both meetings was a member of the EFCC task force Ibrahim Musa and the prosecution counsel, Sylvanus Tahir.

The defence counsel speaking further disclosed that it was resolved that the defendant should send a formal communication to the commission, which he claimed had been done, adding that the letter which was addressed to the EFCC Chairman, Ibrahim Magu, was dispatched on June 6, 2016.

However, prosecution counsel, Sylvanus Tahir, who claimed he was aware that the defendant had written a letter to the chairman of the commission seeking to engage the federal government in a discussion over the charge, told the court they were prepared for the day’s business.

Tahir insisted that the out-of-court settlement was not a ground to stop trial since it was not a civil matter and urged the court to order for commencement of trial.
Responding, counsel to the defendant said that it would be prejudicial to commence trial in view of the ongoing attempt to settle the matter out of court.

Liman, while acknowledging the fact that the case had been fixed for trial, prayed the court for an adjournment to enable them proceed with the out-of-court settlement.
However, Justice Nyako in a brief ruling held that trial could not commence since the condition precedent for trial had not been met by the defence.

Nyako said that the defence ought to have filed a summary of defence for trial to commence.
The matter was therefore adjourned to June 16 for trial to begin.
The EFCC on May 11, 2016, arraigned Umar before Justice Binta Nyako of the Federal High Court, Abuja, on a seven-count charge bordering on money laundering, criminal breach of trust and corruption.