The Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) has retrieved a whopping N4billion in stolen wealth from the former chief of air staff, Air Marshal Adesola Amosu.
Lawyer to the former air chief, Chief Bolaji Ayorinde (SAN), revealed yesterday at a Federal High Court in Lagos that the retired military officer had refunded N4 billion to the federal government.
The lawyer stated this during the arraignment of the former Air Force chief and 10 others by the anti-graft agency before the court over an alleged N22.8 billion fraud.
While moving the bail application on behalf of his client, Chief Ayorinde stated Amosu had been cooperating fully with EFCC since his arrest in January 2016.
He said: “He (Amosu) has remitted the sum of N4billion to the federal government, although not in admittance of guilt, but out of cooperation with security agencies.
“I, therefore, urge the court to grant bail to the 1st accused person (Amosu) on self-recognisance, or if the court wants to impose conditions, it should be very liberal.”
He also revealed that Amosu had been reporting to the EFCC, sometimes twice a week, adding that the former air chief will make himself available for trial.
Amosu and over 10 senior officers are being probed by the EFCC as part of the $2.1bn arms scam, especially in relation to the 10 contracts of the Nigeria Air Force (NAF), said to be worth $930,500,690.00.
Amosu and his predecessor, Air Chief Marshal Alex Badeh (rtd) were in January arrested for the non-specification of procurement costs, absence of contract agreements, award of contracts beyond authorised thresholds, transfer of public funds for unidentified purposes and general non-adherence to provisions of the Public Procurement Act.
The investigation also centred on the payment of N4,402,687,569.41 for unexecuted contracts; the procurement of two used Mi-24V helicopters instead of the recommended Mi-35M series at $136,944,000.00; four used Alpha-Jets for the NAF at US$7,180,000 funded by Office of the National Security Adviser (ONSA); the cannibalisation of engines from NAF fleet to justify procurement of jets and the excessive pricing of 36D6 Low Level Air Defence Radar at $33m instead of $6m per one.
Besides, N2.5bn contracts were allegedly awarded to Syrius Technologies (an Ukrainian company) not registered in Nigeria, and seven contracts worth N599,118,000.00 to the Defence Industry Corporation of Nigeria; only two were delivered
While Amosu was granted bail, Badeh was charged to court where he is currently facing trial.
A former director of finance and accounts at the NAF, Air Commodore Salisu Yushau (rtd), who is an EFCC witness, had revealed before a Federal High Court sitting in Abuja that all past air chiefs diverted N558.2m monthly from funds meant for the payment of salaries of Nigerian Air Force officials.
Yesterday, Amosu was arraigned alongside two senior serving Air Force officers – Air Vice Marshal Jacob Bola Adigun and Air Commodore Gbadebo Owodunni Olugbenga – and nine companies before Justice Mohammed Idris.
Companies named in the charges 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 converting and stealing the sums from the Nigeria Air Force 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).
The accused persons were accused of using the companies to convert and conceal the money.
Amosu and Air Vice Marshal Adigun were said to have, between July 17 and September 16, 2014, allegedly removed over N663.4million from the Nigerian Air Force accounts to purchase properties at 50-52 Tenterden Grove, London (NW4 1TH) and at 93B Shirehall Park, LondonNW4 2QU, United Kingdom.
They were also accused of buying 40A, Bourdillon, Ikoyi, with N900million, and a property at Sinari Daranijo in Victoria Island with N1.5billion.
According to the EFCC, they also bought a property named Cappadol Mall at Adetokunbo Ademola Street, Wuse II Abuja, for N750million, as well as a property worth over N1.7billion at Agobogba Street, Parkview, Ikoyi Lagos, using the Air Force’s money.
Other properties they allegedly bought using Air Force’s funds include one at Salt Lake Street, Maitama, Abuja; one at Agadez Street, off Aminu Kano Crescent, Abuja; 61A, Lake Chad Street, Maitama, Abuja; and one at 1, River Street, Wuse II Abuja using alleged stolen funds.
Between last March 6 and April 30, the accused allegedly used N428,139,539.00 removed from the accounts of NAF to renovate and purchase medical equipment for Solomon HealthCare Ltd, situated at 24th Adeniyi Jones Street, Ikeja Lagos.
They, however, pleaded not guilty to the charges.
Counsel to the 3rd defendants, A. Etuokwu, also urged the court to grant bail to his client on liberal terms, adding that he is still a serving military officer with a health condition.
Before he adjourned the case to July 8 for trial, Justice Idris remanded the 1st and 3rd accused persons (Amosu and Olugbenga) to prison custody while the 2nd accused (Adigun) is to be kept in the EFCC custody pending the perfection of their bail conditions.