Court admits documents Fayose sold land for N650m to Badeh
Trial of the former Chief of Air Staff, Air Chief Marshal Alex Badeh, retd, resumed before the Federal High Court in Abuja on Wednesday, with the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, EFCC, tendering more evidence against him.
Badeh is answering to a 10-count criminal charge preferred against him by the EFCC. He was alleged to have diverted over N3.9billion from NAF accounts within 2013.
The ex-NAF boss is facing trial alongside his firm, Iyalikam Nigeria Ltd. Among exhibits trial Justice Okon Abang admitted into evidence against the defendant yesterday included the title deed of a N650million Abuja property that was sold by Governor Ayodele Fayose of Ekiti State to buyers, who allegedly acted on behalf of the defendant.
The documents which EFCC tendered through its lawyer, Mr. Rotimi Jacobs, SAN, were admitted as exhibits after Justice Abang dismissed Badeh’s objection to their admissibility. Other documents the prosecution tendered through its 18th witness, Mr. Abubakar Madaki, who was the leader of EFCC’s investigative team, included the deeds of assignment between Fayose and one Tony O. Ezekiel, dated December 12, 2009, as well as the Certificate of Occupancy bearing the governor’s name.
Also admitted in evidence was 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.
The fourth prosecution witness, Mr. Mustapha Yerima who is the Managing Director of Life Builders Technology Limited, had in his testimony on May 23, 2016, narrated before the court, how the plot of land in Abuja worth N650m, which he said was originally owned by Fayose, was purchased by Badeh for the construction of a shopping mall that gulped N1.2bn.
The shopping mall was said to be located along Amino Kano Crescent, in Abuja. Yerima told the court that a former Director of Finance and Account of the Nigerian Air Force, Air Commodore Aliyu Yishau (retd), who had also testified as the first prosecution witness (PW1) in the matter, was the middle man between him and Badeh.
The witness said he paid the N650m for the land in cash on behalf of Yishau, who was allegedly acted for his boss (Badeh). He said: “While on his (Badeh) official tour carried out by the Nigerian Air Force, he visited our site, which was Nigerian Air Force Conference Centre. We took him round the project and we showed him all the facilities.
“He was very impressed that an indegenous contractor could do a wonderful job because the finishing was nice. “Soon after he left, some few weeks or months, the Director of Finance, Air Commodore Yishau (PW1) approached me and said his boss was very pleased with our job and said his boss wanted to give us a job. Then he scheduled a meeting.
“Then he told me the nature of the job that it was the construction of a mall. Soon after that, Yishau called me again that they were ready to embark on the project that we should look for a commercial plot within the city centre.
“Before we could find one, Yishau called that they had found one along Aminu Kano Crescent. Then he engaged us to negotiate for the land. He gave us a copy of the C of O (Certificate of Occupancy). “I got to know that the land was in the name of one Fayose Ayodele. Soon after, we tried to contact the owner. Yishau called again that they had found the person who bought the land from Mr. Ayodele Fayose.
“Then we contacted the person, one Mr. Tony (I can’t remember the other name). He is the owner of Itex Furnitures. We got to him and we realised that he sold to the third party by the name Kasagro Investments Limited. We now spoke to Air Commodore Yishau to find out. He then directed us to negotiate with Kasangro Investments Limited. We got to Kasangro Investments Limited, he then named his price, N650m.” Meanwhile, at the contiuation of hearing yesterday, the PW-18, revealed said that some of the proxies Badeh used to acquire properties, had yet to register their interests in the assets. However, he said his team of investigators were able to link the properties to Badeh through the movement of funds from the Nigerian Air Force’s account to the sellers.
“As of today, the subsequent buyers have not registered their interests.
“Since the subsequent buyers have not registered their interests, as I earlier stated, we got the occupants of the property and those working on the projects, who took us to the final owners of the properties, because the properties have gone to three owners from the original owners.
“It was the last owners of the properties that we traced the funds from the Nigerian Air Force to, via the agents”, Madaki told the court. He said that Badeh’s wife and his two children who were equally being investigated for offences bordering on money laundering, escaped to the United States of America before investigation was concluded. He said all attempts to get them arrested proved abortive.
“At the initial stage, when we started investigation, we invited Alex Badeh (Jnr.) (Badeh’s son) who lives in 19 Kumasi Crescent, Abuja, one of the properties, among the properties earlier mentioned. “He happened to be a son of the first defendant (Badeh).
“He claimed to be a tenant in that property and since investigation was ongoing at the prelimnary stage, we allowed him to go to come back when we had enough issues to question him about. “He left and never came back. We later got to know that he has left the country for America. We were also looking for Mary Iya Badeh, the wife of the first defendant, who is one of the directors in the second defendant (Iyalikam Nigeria Limited). “The second defendant (Iyalikam) had received so much funds from the alleged funds we are investigating. “She too, according to investigation has left the country for America. Kam Badeh (another of Badeh’s son) is one of the directors in one of the companies.
“We have gone round the locations that we had information that he does business, but we are unable to get him. “Since the information was that they left through the International Airport, we wrote a letter to the Nigerian Immigration Service and the Department of Security Service to watch-list them. But We have not been able to get them.”
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 the Nigerian Air Force’s funds. The witness said,
“The first defendant was 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. “Parts of the funds were being 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 were 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. Acording to him, “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” He told the court that $900,000 that was part of the funds he said were diverted from NAF’s account, was deposited in Badeh’s accounts with the First Bank between 2012 and 2013.
“A total $900,000 between November 2012 to October or November 2013 was found deposited in the account. The money is believed to be part of funds we are investigating”, he added. Justice Abang has adjourned further hearing on the matter till November 1 and 2.