Hammadama Bello, a prosecution witness in the ongoing trial of former Chief of Air Staff, Air Marshal Mohammed Umar Dikko, before Justice Nnamdi Dimgba of the Federal High Court, Maitama, Abuja, has told the court that the defendant allegedly converted the sum of N1.2 billion, belonging Nigerian Air Force to his personal use.
Dikko is being prosecuted by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC), on seven-count charge bordering on money laundering and procurement fraud to the tune of N9.7 billion. Under cross-examination by the defence counsel, Dr. Onyeachi Ikpeazu, SAN, the witness who is an investigator with the EFCC, said that funds meant for Air Force operational purpose were diverted by Dikko to his personal use.
The witness further revealed that not all the capital projects like building of and equipping of hospitals, Comprehensive School, Kano; Comprehensive School, Yola; building of Conference Centre in Kado, Abuja and the renovation of barracks, as well as the Air Force barricade, were sponsored from the tranche, earmarked for them.
“In addition to the project listed above, the defendant Air Marshal Umar Dikko, helped himself by carrying out some project for himself, like his house in Maitama, which amounts to almost a billion naira,” Bello said.
He further noted that a case of alleged money laundering was established against the defendant following the results of investigations into properties linked to the former Chief of Air Staff.
Bello further revealed that that all directives regarding the disbursement of NAF’s funds came from Dikko to the Director of Finance and Accounts, who was assisted by the CFO, Group Captain Bukar Abubakar.
He stated that Abubakar was in turn assisted by Squadron Leader, Emmanuel N. Agbor and a number of other junior cashiers, adding that the former Air Chief gave directives in the absence of the Director, Finance and Accounts.
At the previous court sitting, Bello had told the court how some properties were allegedly purchased by the defendant.
“Although the defendant (Dikko) claimed he bought the property for N35 million, investigations revealed that the property was originally a guest house of the Nigerian Air Force, which was sold to one AVM Lex.
“Upon questioning, AVM Lex confirmed that he had been approached by one Yushau, who told him that the buyer preferred to stay anonymous and N85 million (Eighty-five Million Naira), was paid to AVM Lex, for the property and another N75 million paid for renovation of the same,” Bello added.
According to the witness, the investigations also revealed that the former Chief of Air Staff came from a humble background, rising from the position of a teacher, then a library assistant, before becoming a serving officer and then the Chief of Air Staff and wondered how he could have acquired such properties.
“He (Dikko) was not a businessman while in service and would have to be Chief of Air Staff (at his last grade level) for 250 years to be able to afford the properties linked to him.
“Investigations revealed that during Dikko’s tenure as Chief of Air Staff, he received N558, 200,000 million on a monthly basis, which he converted into dollars,” Bello stated.
According to the witness, searches conducted on companies linked to the defendant at the Corporate Affairs Commission (CAC), and several bank accounts, revealed that none of the accounts of these companies were used directly or indirectly for the purchase of the properties.
On the monies transferred to the account of Capital Law Firm, the legal agent engaged for the purchase of the defendant’s Asokoro property, Bello stated that investigations revealed a trail of about N900 million, which was paid in cash, as being payment for the property and N40 million in legal fees and additional monies (in dollars), were paid to the agent’s account for renovation of the property.
With the conclusion of cross -examination, Justice Dimgba discharged the witness and adjourned the matter for continuation of hearing.