A former Director of Finance and Accounts at the headquarters of the Nigerian Air Force, Air Commodore Salisu Yishau (retd), told a Federal High Court in Abuja, on Monday, how he helped a former Chief of Air Staff, Air Chief Marshal Mohammed Umar (retd), to divert the sum of N558.2m from NAF’s account for 24 months.
When added together, the monthly diversion of N558.2m which allegedly took place between October 2010 and September 2012, when Umar retired from service, amounted to total sum of N13,396,800,000.
Yishau was testifying as the first prosecution witness in Umar’s trial on charges of criminal breach of trust and corruption involving about N7.382bn allegedly used by the ex-Air Force Chief to buy properties in Abuja, Kaduna and Kano.
The witness, who was led in evidence by the prosecuting counsel, Mr. Sylvanus Tahir, said as Umar was retiring, he advised his successor, Air Chief Marshal Alex Badeh (retd), to retain him (Yishau) as the Director of Finance Accounts.
Yishau had earlier testified in Badeh’s trial on a similar set of charges, narrating to Justice Okon Abang of the Federal High Court in Abuja how he continued to help Badeh to divert the same amount of N558.2m for several months until Badeh left service.
On Thursday, the witness told Justice Nnamdi Dimgba, who is sitting over Umar’s trial that despite expressing his willingness to retire from service, Badeh gave him the offer to continue as the Director of Finance of NAF.
The witness said, “Yes, it extended. The new Chief of Air Staff, I believed, based on the advice of my boss, the defendant (Umar), retained me as the Director of Finance and Accounts up to December 31, 2013 when I retired from the service.
“That Chief of Air Staff was Air Chief Marshall Alex Badeh.
“I said it might be based on my boss’ the defendant’s advice because he knew I wanted to leave the service but he told me to please, if the new
chief said he wanted to work with me, I should oblige.
“I told him I was tired of the office and wanted to leave the service.
“And this I had told him even before my boss, the defendant, appointed me as the Director of Finance.
“I had also shared the same information with Air Chief Marshall Alex Badeh of my intention to leave the service. I was surprised when he offered to retain me in that office.”
Narrating how the diversion was being done, Yishau said the Nigerian Air Force was receiving appropriation in three accounts named, Capital Vote, Overhead Vote and Personnel Emolument Vote.
He said the NAF was receiving about N4bn allocation into the Personnel Emolument account monthly, when in actual fact, only about N2.2bn was being used for that purpose.
He said out of the balance of about N1.6bn, the sum of N558.2m was being set aside for the “upkeep” of the Chief of Air Force monthly.
According to the witness, the sum of N558.2m was being withdrawn from NAF’s Personnel and Emolument account and delivered to Umar monthly.
Yishau said the money was sometimes converted to dollar before it was delivered to Umar at the official residence of the Chief o Air Staff, Niger Barracks Abuja.