Paul Obi in Abuja
Nuhu Dalhatu, a witness of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) on Tuesday told Justice Okon Abang of the Federal High Court sitting in Maitama, Abuja how monies were being disbursed from the accounts of the Nigeria Air Force, NAF, on the orders of a former Chief of Air Staff, COAS, Air Chief Marshal Alex S. Badeh (rtd), who is facing trial along Iyalikam Nigeria Limited on a 10-count charge bordering on money laundering.
According to EFCC Head of Media and Information, Wilson Uwujaren, “Dalhatu, an operative of the EFCC, under cross-examination by Badeh’s counsel, Akin Olujimi (SAN), narrated to the court how investigations had revealed records of large volumes of cash disbursements from the NAF accounts, which was carefully recorded by a cashier in the NAF’s Directorate of Finance and Accounts, Squadron Leader, Emmanuel Abu.”
Dalhatu informed the court that “we invited Air Commodore Sinni, a finance officer at NAF to shed more light on the matter. He, however, requested that we interview Squadron Leader Emma Abu, the cashier, stating that Abu had recorded all cash withdrawals and movements of funds.
“By the time Abu arrived, we requested for his records. Analysing the records, we were able to identify consecutive payments made monthly, between January – August, 2013 in favour of Ryte Builders Nigeria Limited and Habco Construction Limited, duly captioned as part of N558.2million meant for the COAS. It was this, as well as bank records, that we used to trace payments.
“It was further revealed that, of a sum total of between N1.2billion and N1.6billion released every month for the payment of NAF officers’ salaries and stipends, N558.2million was set aside for the COAS every month. Abu converted this sum to dollar equivalent and handed it over to Sinni for onward transfer to Badeh.
“From the balance, Abu was able to account for the projects executed which include the NAF Secondary School in Yola, Adamawa State; NAF conference hall in Jabi, Abuja and others in Kaduna and Makurdi, AirForce Barracks,” Dalhatu stated.
He further revealed that when the investigation team interviewed Mr. Mustapha Yerima, Managing Director of Ryte Builders Nigeria Limited, he (Yerima) initially denied having done any contract with NAF, but later changed his tune after being confronted with evidence to the contrary.
“Series of e-mails between Kabiru Salawu, Mustapha Yerima, Alex Badeh Jnr, one Architecet Saka and another US-based architect regarding the development of Badeh’s shopping mall were also discovered,” Dalhatu added.
Earlier in his evidence-in-chief, Dalhatu had narrated how events led to discoveries of various choice properties allegedly purchased, constructed and/or renovated for Badeh, including 6, Ogun River Street, Maitama; 14, Azdope Crescent, Off Kumasi Crescent, Wuse 2 and 8a, Temple Street, Wuse 2, Abuja.
The matter was subsequently adjourned to May 3, 2017 for further hearing.