An investigator with the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, Mr. Abubakar Madaki, said his investigative team found in the account of a former Chief of Air Staff, Air Chief Marshal Badeh (retd.), the sum of $900,000 allegedly diverted from the Nigerian Air Force’s account within a period of about a year.
The EFCC is prosecuting Badeh alongside his firm, Iyalikam Nigeria Limited, on 10 counts of money laundering bordering on alleged fraudulent removal of about N3.97bn from NAF’s account.
The anti-graft agency accused Badeh of using the fund to buy and develop landed assets in Abuja for himself and two sons between January and December 2013.
Madaki, led by the prosecuting counsel, Mr. Rotimi Jacobs (SAN), was testifying as the 18th prosecution witness in Badeh’s ongoing trial.
He alleged that the sum of $900,000, was deposited in Badeh’s accounts with the First Bank between 2012 and 2013.
Madaki, who in his testimony, gave a sort of report of his team’s discovery in the course of investigation, said the sum of $900,000 was part of a cumulative sum of money Badeh began to divert from the account of NAF shortly after becoming the Chief of Air Staff.
He said, “A total of $900,000 between November 2012 and October or November 2013 was found deposited in the account. The money is believed to be part of funds we are investigating.”
He said at the end of investigation into the case, his team “discovered that the first defendant (Badeh) and his wife had earlier incorporated a company Iyalikam Nigeria Limited” in whose accounts they allegedly diverted NAF’s funds.
He also said the sum of N558.2m was being removed from NAF’s account and set aside for Badeh on a monthly basis.
The witness said, “The first defendant was the Chief of Air Staff and subsequently the Chief of Defence of Staff.
“Funds from the Nigerian Air Force were being diverted to the second defendant (Iyalikam).
“We also discovered that N558,200, 000 was being set aside for the first defendant from the NAF account every month.
“Part of the funds was exchanged into dollars and handed over to the first defendant.
“Some fractions of the funds were being distributed as directed by the first defendant.
“The major part of the funds was exchanged into dollars and was used to acquire choice properties in Abuja by the director of finance, Salisu Yishau.
“The part of the funds was moved to Right Builders owned by PW4, Mustapha Yerima.”
He also narrated how a cash sum of $1m was found in Badeh’s residence at 6, Ogun River, Off Danube Crescent.
He said, “The property was purchased by the defendants with the funds we are investigating.
“We found in the course of searching the premises $1m which was believed to be part of the alleged funds we are investigating.”
The prosecuting counsel, Jacobs, on Wednesday, asked for the permission of the trial judge, Justice Okon Abang, to allow him to play in court, the video recording of EFCC’s operation leading to the alleged discovery of the $1m at Badeh’s residence.
After his request was granted by the judge, Jacobs said he would bring another witness through whom he would play the video recording.
Continuing his testimony on Wednesday, Madaki also narrated to the court how the wife, and two children of Badeh were being investigated for offences with which the ex-Chief of Air Staff, was charged.
He said the three of them, however, escaped to the United States of America before investigation was concluded.
He said all attempts to get them arrested were not successful.
Earlier on Wednesday, Justice Abang admitted as exhibits the title documents of a N650m Abuja property sold by Governor Ayodele Fayose of Ekiti State, and was said to have passed through a chain of buyers before allegedly ending up with Badeh.
Justice Abang admitted the documents as exhibits after dismissing Badeh’s objection to their admissibility in a ruling on Wednesday.
The documents included the deeds of assignment between Fayose and Tony O. Ezekiel dated December 12, 2009, and the Certificate of Occupancy bearing the governor’s name.
Other documents admitted as exhibits included a letter dated March 4, 2016 with attachment sent by the Lands Department of the Federal Capital Territory Administration in response to EFCC’s request; a reply dated May 5, 2016 by the Abuja Geographic Information; letter by the Solicitor-General of the Federation and Permanent Secretary of the Federal Ministry of Justice.
While earlier testifying as the fourth prosecution witness on May 23, 2016, Mr. Mustapha Yerima, a contractor and Managing Director of Life Builders Technology Limited, told the court how a plot of land in Abuja worth N650m, which was originally owned by Fayose, was purchased by Badeh for the construction of a shopping mall at a cost of N1.2bn.
The shopping mall is said to be located along Amino Kano Crescent, in Abuja.
The witness had said Badeh eventually acquired the land from the third buyer.
Yerima said he reached a bargain with Badeh to build the mall for N1.2bn.
He said that a former Director of Finance and Account of the Nigerian Air Force, Air Commodore Aliyu Yishau (retd.), who had earlier testified as the first prosecution witness (PW1), was the middle man between him and Badeh.
Madaki said that the subsequent buyers of some of the properties purchased by Badeh had yet to formally register their interests in the said properties.
The witness said his team of investigators was able to link the properties to Badeh through the movement of funds from the Nigerian Air Force’s account to the sellers.
Under cross-examination by Badeh’s lawyer, Lasun Sanusi (SAN), the witness admitted that he (Madaki) did not personally participate in the purchase of the properties under investigation.
Asked if he witnessed how the funds allegedly diverted from NAF’s account were changed to dollars and eventually ended up in Badeh’s hand, he said, “these were facts discovered in the course of investigation.”
Justice Abang adjourned until November 1 and 2 for further trial.