Tobi Soniyi in Abuja
A detective with the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC), Ala Shehu Mohammed, yesterday told an Abuja High court how a former Chief of Naval Staff, Jibrin Usman, purchased by proxy a N600million property with the Nigerian Navy’s funds.
The witness, who was giving evidence as the first prosecution witness, said investigation revealed that on March 13, 2014, the sum of N600million was allegedly transferred from the account of Naval Engineering Services Ltd to Petrus Ogwu Nigeria Ltd for the purchase of a property at No. 7 Colorado Close, Maitama, Abuja.
He said the property was bought by Harbour Bay International, a company linked to the family of the ex-Chief of Naval Staff.
He said the transfer was made from the Diamond Bank account of the Naval Engineering with the authority of the second and third defendants, Rear Admiral Bala Mshelia (rtd) and Rear Admiral Shehu Ahmadu (rtd).
He said: “We requested for the instrument of transfer of the fund and it was provided to the EFCC showing the 2nd and 3rd defendants are the ones that authorised the transfer.
“We invited the owner of the account of Petrus Ogwu Nigeria Ltd, one Peter Oguebie in the course of interview, he informed us that he received the sum of N600million which was for the sale of his property at No. 7 Colorado Close, Maitama, Abuja he sold to Harbor Bay International.
“Further investigation revealed that Harbor Bay was duly registered with Corporate Affairs Commission to Mrs. Lami Jibrin, the wife of the first defendant and one Abdulkadir Jibrin, the son to the first defendant; both directors of the company.
“Investigation letter was sent to Nigerian Navy to release the second and third defendant, being the signatories of Naval Engineering Services Ltd account with Diamond Bank and they reported to EFCC.
“The second and third defendants told us it was a directive they received from the then Chief of Naval Staff, Vice Admiral Usman Jibrin (first defendant), to transfer the sum of N600million for the purchase of the property on No. 7 Colorado Close, Maitama.”
He said the Director of Harbor Bay, Mrs. Lami Jibrin was also invited and interrogated but that she denied knowledge of the transaction.
He said the first defendant accompanied his wife to the commission and he was also interrogated and his statement was taken down.
The witness said a letter was written to the Nigerian Navy to provide the EFCC with its budget adding that, “when the response was analyzed, there was no where we saw the provision for the purchase of property for the Chief of Naval Staff in the 2013 and 2014 budget of the Nigerian Navy”.
He said the investigation commenced sometimes in August 2014, when the EFCC received an intelligence on a suspicious deposit of huge sums of money in a bank account of Petrus Ogwu Nigeria Ltd with Diamond Bank.
The witness said the management of Naval Engineering Services Ltd were invited for interrogation and the Managing Director reported but said that he was not aware of any property at No. 7 Colorado Close, Maitama, Abuja belonging to the Naval Engineering Services Ltd.
The witness added that a letter was written to Abuja Geographical Information System (AGIS) on the said property and the response indicated Petrus Ogwu Nigeria Ltd to have purchased the property from one Anthony.
He said that Mr. Peter of Petrus Ogwu Nigeria Ltd submitted the Deeds of Assignment, Power of Attorney and Sale Agreement between his company and Harbour Bay International confirming the sale of the property.
The documents were tendered and admitted as Exhibits 1a, b and c.
While the prosecution sought to tender correspondence between the investigating team and Diamond Bank, Jibrin’s counsel, Mr. Yakubu Maikyau (SAN) objected to its admissibility on the grounds that some of the attached documents were not duly certified by the necessary authorities.
The trial judge, Justice A. S. Umar adjourned the matter to December 6, 2016 for ruling on the admissibility of documents and continuation of trial.
Jibrin was arraigned by EFCC on a four-count charge bordering on criminal conspiracy alongside Rear Admiral Bala Mshelia (rtd) and Rear Admiral Shehu Ahmadu (rtd) for allegedly buying a house worth N600million from the account of Naval Engineering Services without the said purchase contract being captured in the budget.
EFCC further alleged that the documentation for transfer of ownership of the property was done such that a private company owned by the family of Jibrin became the buyer of the house.