A prosecution witness, Tosin Owobo, an operative of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, EFCC, in a case involving a former Chief of Air Staff, Air Marshal Adesola Amosun( retd.) and two other serving senior officers of the Nigerian Air Force, NAF, on Tuesday, May 2, 2017, told Justice M.B. Idris of the Federal High Court sitting in Ikoyi, Lagos how the defendants allegedly converted to personal use huge sums of money in the NAF’s Special Emergency Operation Account.
The defendants are standing trial on a 23-count charge of conspiracy, stealing, money laundering, concealing of proceeds of crime and conversion of funds belonging to the Nigerian Air Force to their personal use.
In his testimony, Owobo told the court that the second defendant, Air Vice Marshal Jacob Bola Adigun, a former Director of Finance and third defendant, Air Commodore Gbadebo Owodunni Olugbenga, a former Deputy Director of Finance, were signatories to the NAF Special Emergency Operations Account.
Led in evidence by the prosecution counsel, Rotimi Oyedepo, Otobo told the court that sequel to the signing of a Memorandum of Understanding ( MoU) between the Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency (NIMASA) and the Nigeria Air Force, the total sum of N3bn( Three Billion Naira) was paid into the NAF Special Emergency Operation Account domiciled with Zenith Bank Plc in three tranches of N1bn( One Billion Naira) on different occasions.
Owobo further said the money was paid into Right Options Oil & Gas Limited, Judah Oil Limited, Delfina Oil & Gas, McAllan Oil & Gas Limited and Lebol Oil & Gas Limited.
He said:‘‘As part of the investigation, we invited the Managing Directors of Right Options Oil & Gas, Judah Oil & Gas and Lebol Oil & Gas Limited, who stated in their statements that they were Bureau De Change (BDC) operators and not oil dealers.
‘‘They said when the monies were paid into their accounts, they gave the dollar equivalents to the Account Officers of the NAF Special Emergency Operation Account for the second and third defendants.
‘‘They also stated that their companies were registered as Oil & Gas companies because they were given a high threshold of monies that could be transferred with fewer deductions.’’
Also, while giving further evidence on the account opening packages of Delfina Oil & Gas and McAllan Oil & Gas, Otobo told the court that the CAC documents that were used in opening the accounts bore Adigun’s name as director.
According to Otobo, investigations further revealed that certain monies that did not originate from NIMASA were paid from other NAF accounts into the NAF Special Emergency Operation Account.
The money, he said, was in turn paid into McAllan Oil & Gas Limited, Delfina Oil & Gas Limited and Trapezites BDC to the tune of about N15bn.
Otobo also told the court the money received by the defendants were used to buy properties in Nigeria and the United Kingdom, adding that Solomon Enterprises, which is allegedly owned by Amosun, received money from Delfina Oil & Gas and McAllan Oil & Gas Limited.
He also stated that the sum of N95m (Ninety-five Million Naira) was allegedly paid to Amosun’s wife, Omolara, who is one of the Directors of St. Solomon HealthCare.
When the prosecution counsel, Rotimi Oyedepo, sought to tender the statements of the second and third defendants in evidence, the defence counsels prayed the court for an
adjournment to enable them review the documents before them.
Justice Idris adjourned the matter to Wednesday, May 3, 2017 for continuation of trial.
It will be recalled that at the last hearing, the defendants had challenged the admissibility of the FCMB account opening package and statement of account of Deegee Oil and Gas Limited sought to be tendered by the prosecution.
But in his ruling today, Justice Idris admitted the document as evidence, saying that the document satisfies the provision of the law after being duly certified.