Trial of Chief of Air Force Staff, Amosu Stalled


Davidson  Iriekpen

The ongoing trial of the former Chief of Air Staff, Air Marshal Adesola Amosu (rtd) and 10 others before the Federal High Court in Lagos was yesterday stalled due to the demand by one of the defence counsel, Norrison Quakers (SAN) that an Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) witness, Mojeed Olatunji, should produce his international passport. 

Olatunji, a compliant officer with Skye Bank Plc, had commenced his testimony before the court on Thursdayand the court had fixed yesterday for his cross-examination.

However, the proceedings was stalled when Quakers questioned the identity of the witness and demanded that he tendered his passport to prove that he was the same person that signed a letter he had earlier presented to the court.

When the witness could not present the passport, the lawyer asked the trial judge, Justice Mohammed Idris, to adjourn the case to enable the witness produced the document. 

In spite of objections from the prosecutor, Rotimi Oyedepo, who argued that the development was a ploy by the defence to delay the matter, the judge granted the adjournment. 

According to the judge, it was in the interest of justice to grant the adjournment.

He added that though a trial must be conducted without unnecessary delay, a defendant must be given enough time to defend himself. 

He therefore adjourned the case till Monday for continuation of trial. 

Amosu, was arraigned on June 29 this year by the EFCC alongside two senior serving Air Force officers, Air Vice Marshal Jacob Bola Adigun and Air Commodore Gbadebo Owodunni Olugbenga and seven companies.

Companies named in the charge are Delfina Oil and Gas Ltd, Mcallan Oil And Gas Ltd, Hebron Housing and Properties Company Ltd, Trapezites BDC, Fonds and Pricey Ltd, Deegee Oil and Gas Ltd, Timsegg Investment Ltd and Solomon Health Care Ltd.

The EFCC accused them of conspiracy, stealing, money laundering, concealing of proceeds of crime and conversion of funds belonging to the Nigerian Air Force to their personal use around March 5, 2014 in Lagos.

They were also accused of concealing “proceeds of crime” and thereby committed an offence contrary to Section 18(a) of the Money Laundering (Prohibition) (Amendment) Act, 2012 and punishable under Section 17(a).

However, the defendants had pleaded not guilty to the charges, a development that made the trial judge, Justice Idris to grant  Amosun, Adigun and Olugbenga bail in the sum of N500m each with two sureties in like sum.

The witness, Olatunji had told the court on Thursday that Skye Bank Plc. received an enquiry from the anti-graft agency on January 30, 2916, demanding for the  Nigerian Air Force operational account, which the bank in return, furnished the commission with the Account Opening Package that included signatories to the account, mandate, and statement of account, customer’s instructions with some transaction in the account.

The Certified True Copy (CTC) of these documents were tendered and admitted as exhibits.

The EFCC witness also stated that on September 11, 2014, there were debit of N2409,367,700 billion, while on September 15, 2016, the sum of N959, 750, 015, was transferred from the Account to NAF Special Emergency Operation (NSEO)

The witnesses also stated that on September 18, 2014, the account was debited sum of N893,295,605, while on September 24, 2014, the sum of N556,321,894, was transferred to NSEO. He added that on December 5, 2014, March 16, 2015, and May 15, 2015, there were an inflows of the sum of N4,597,837,900; N1 billion, N1, 246,052,850 and N2, 886,518,800, from the office of National Security Adviser and  Accountant General of the Federation (AGF), into the NAF’s account with his bank. Adding that on June 2, 2015, there was a payment of N1,689,498,494 billion from NAF’s account to NAF Samal Lafia account.

Olatunji further stated that on July 10 the sum of N1.072,111,675 billion was paid into the account from CBN.

He also stated that between December 11,  2014, the sums of N N2. 274, 400, 173.38 billion, was debited inti the account of NSEO, while on December 12, one Emeka withdrew the sum of N11, 250, 000. 

And between March 18, 24 and May 19, 2015, the sum of N695,215,729; N304,784,271; N719, 206, 592; N572,446,258, and N1.247,303,186, were paid into the accounts of NSEO with a new generation Bank.

The Skye Bank official, who was led in evidences-in-Chief by the prosecution counsel, Rotimi Oyedepo further stated that the sum of N1.639,215,614, ; N11.8 million; N896, 205,650,; N793, 292, 825; N652, 719, 825; N419, 392,560, were transferred from NAF’s account to NSEO’s account, between May 22, 2015 and July 14, 2015. While the sum of N7.908, 857.61 was withdrew by one Sergeant Agbogidi Murphy on September 9, 2015.

The prosecution witness said all the transactions were carried out following January 28, 2014, directive of three signatories into the account. And the three signatories to the NAF’s account, Vice Marshal Adigun, Commodore Gbadebo and POC Ifeogu.

In one of the counts, the defendants were accused of indirectly converting a sum of N3.6bn belonging to the Nigerian Air Force to their own.

In another instance, the EFCC alleged that Amosu and the others stole N323,319,283.81 from the accounts of the Nigerian Air Force between the March 21, 2014 and March 12, 2015 to purchase for themselves a property situated at No.1, River Street,

Wuse II Abuja.