The ongoing trial of former Chief of Air Staff, Air Vice Marshal Mohammed Umar Dikko, before Justice Nnamdi Dimgba of the Federal High Court, Maitama, Abuja for offences bordering on money laundering and procurement fraud to the tune of N9.7billion resumed today, March 28, 2019 with the continued examination of the prosecution’s ninth witness.
Hammadama Bello, an investigator with the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, EFCC, led in evidence by prosecution counsel, Sylvanus Tahir, gave insight into the activities of the team that investigated the former AVM.
Regarding the fourth charge preferred against Dikko by the EFCC, Bello 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.
Regarding the circumstances surrounding the purchase of a property at No. 14, Audu Bako Way, GRA, Kano State, Bello stated that, although Dikko had told the EFCC that he purchased the property through Yushau for N130 million – paying in tranches of N90 million and N40 million from his personal savings –, investigations revealed that the property was actually bought for N250 million from a relocating Nigerien, with payment made directly from the NAF Camp Finance account. This revelation, Bello said, was confirmed by the then NAF Director of Finance and Accounts, Air Commodore Yushau (PW1).
Regarding the circumstances surrounding the purchase of yet another property in Kaduna, Bello said, “Although the defendant (Dikko) claimed he bought the property for N35million, investigations revealed that the property was originally a guest house for Air Force which had been sold to one AVM Lex. Upon questioning, AVM Lex confirmed that he had been approached by Yushau, who told him that the buyer preferred to stay anonymous. Eighty-five Million naira [N85 Million] was paid to AVM Lex for the property, and another N75million paid for renovation of the same.”
According to Bello “Dikko claimed that he withdrew money from his account to pay (all respective) owners from his savings but he failed to provide evidence of this. He, however, stated that Yushau was aware of all the transactions and Yushau confirmed this to be true.”
Bello further stated that investigations had 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.
“He (Dikko) was not a business man while in service and, by consequence, would have had 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 his tenure, he received N558,200,000 million on a monthly basis which he converted into dollars. Yushau was also offered N120 million on a monthly basis but he refused, stating that his conscience could not allow him take the money,” Bello stated.
Bello revealed that searches conducted on all 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.
Regarding monies transferred to the account of Capital Law Firm, the legal agent engaged for the purchase of the defendant’s property in Asokoro, Bello stated that investigations revealed a trail of about N900million which was paid in cash, being payment for the property and N40million in legal fees. Additional monies (in dollars) were paid to the agent’s account for renovation of the property.
Bello disclosed that “The agent confirmed this when he was interviewed. Monies were paid from NAF’s Personnel Emolument Account in UBA to the agent’s Capital Law Firm account in Stanbic IBTC Bank.”
Bello also told the court that investigations had revealed that Dikko as Chief of Air Staff was the Chief Accounting Officer of the Air Force and that all directives regarding the disbursement of NAF’s accounts came from him to the Director of Finance and Accounts, Yushau, who was assisted by the CFO, Group Captain Bukar Abubakar, who was in turn, assisted by Squadron Leader Emmanuel N. Agbor, and a number of junior cashiers.
After the prosecution concluded its examination of the witness, Justice Dimgba adjourned the matter to May 27 and 28, 2019 for continuation of hearing.