How N3bn from NIMASA Was Diverted by Ex-Air Force Chiefs – Witness + Zenith Bank’s connection
By TONY ADAMS
A prosecution witness in the ongoing money laundering trial of a former Chief of Air Staff, Air Marshal Adesola Amosu (retd) and others, Okechukwu Akubue, today narrated before Justice Chukwujekwu Aneke of a Federal High Court Court sitting in Ikoyi, Lagos how N3billion credited by the Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency, NIMASA, to the Nigeria Air Force, NAF Special Emergency Operations Account domiciled in Zenith Bank, was diverted to personal use under Amosu.
The EFCC is prosecuting Amosu, alongside Air Vice Marshall Jacobs Adigun, a former NAF Chief of Accounts and Budget, and Air Commodore Owodunni Olugbenga, a former NAF Director of Finance and Budget, for their alleged roles in the diversion to personal use of about N21billion belonging to the NAF. They are facing an amended 13-count charge to which they have pleaded “not guilty”.
Led in evidence by prosecuting counsel, Suleiman Suleiman, the witness, an operative of the EFCC, continued with his examination-in-chief as he revealed the outcome of the investigation and analysis of Exhibit A3 before the Court, identified as the bank statement of the NAF Special Emergency Operations Account domiciled in Zenith Bank.
Akubue had at the last sitting on January 18, 2021 told the Court that the bank statement was part of the responses to letters of investigation sent to several financial institutions by the EFCC in the course of investigation. He had told the Court that the credit of N1billion from NIMASA to NAF on 28th of August 2014, according to a Memorandum of Understanding between the two bodies “was disbursed to support the NAF in protecting Nigeria’s waterways”.
At today’s sitting, Akubue said: “Further to the N1billion credit inflow from NIMASA, we found a debit of N4, 801,549 on behalf of Hebron Housing and Property, a company linked to the second defendant by way of ownership.”
According to him, “the Ecobank account in which the money was credited is also owned by the second defendant and the fund was not utilised for the NAF but for the benefits of the defendants”.
He further highlighted the sums of N228,000,000 debited from the NAF account in favour of Rite Options Oil and Gas, on 2nd of September 2014; N336,000,000 in favour of same company on same day; N165,790,000 on 4th of September 2014 in favour of Juda Oil Limited, with another N170,210,000 on same day.
He said: “Investigating the transaction in favour of Rite Options Oil and Gas, we invited for questioning the owner of the company, Adedeji Adelakun.
“In the course of interrogation, he admitted that he was not into oil and gas business, but that he was a bureau de change dealer.
“Adelakun further confessed that the money in question was not utilised for the services of NAF, but that he converted same to United States Dollar and gave to Olufunke Osisanmi, a staff of Zenith Bank on the instruction of the defendant.”
With regards to Juda Oil Limited, Akubue told the Court that the owner of the company, Mohammed Sani was also invited for questioning.
He said: “Mohammed admitted that he did not provide any service for the NAF, but that he rather changed the money to United States Dollar and gave same to NAF officers nominated by the defendant.”
According to Akubue, the NAF also got another N1billion from NIMASA on September 15, 2014.
He noted that following the credit, several debits were made, including N258,693,520.78 on September 16, 2014 in favour of Delfina Oil and Gas;
N261,416,480.92 on September 16, 2014 in favour of McAllam Oil and Gas, which also got another N235,970,883.66, and N243,919,114.64 in favour of Delfina Oil and Gas on September 17, 2014.
Investigation, according to Akubue, revealed that these two companies, were owned and controlled by the second defendant, and like Rite Options Oil and Gas, and Juda Oil Limited, “they had no contractual agreements with the NAF”.
Further testifying, Akubue told the Court that there was another lodgment of N1billion from NIMASA on September 23, 2014.
He said: “Following the lodgment, N146, 298,479.31 was debited in favour of Lebol Oil and Gas, which on same day, also got N153, 701,520.69.”
According to the narrations in the statement of account, Akubue, noted that Lebol Oil and Gas also got N135, 219,625.27; N185, 880,374.73; N186, 410,750.12 and N168, 489,249.88 all on September 24, 2014.
The company, which he said was owned by one Adamu Musa, a BDC operator, also got N162, 715,233.52 and N161, 284,766.48 all on September 25, 2014.
“Under interrogation, Musa confessed that the company had no contractual agreements with the NAF and that the funds were changed to United States Dollar and given to agents nominated by the defendant,” he said.
The case has been adjourned till April 12, 15 and 20, 2021.