Thursday, 30 June 2016

Arms Scandal: At Last Ex-Air Force Chief, Amosu, Refunds N4bn

Why Ex-Air Force Chief, Amosu, Refunds N4bn - LEAKED

Former Chief of Air Staff, Air Marshal Adesola Amosu, has refunded N4 billion and several properties to the Federal Government. Amosu was yesterday docked at a Federal High Court sitting in Lagos over an alleged fraud of N22.8 billion.

While arguing his bail application, Amosu’s lawyer, Chief Bolaji Ayorinde (SAN), informed the court that the former Chief of Air Staff had already refunded a ‘colossal sum’ of money to the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC).

“My lords, my client has remitted monies, not in admission of guilt, but just to cooperate with the EFCC. I ask that bail be granted on self recognisance,” Ayorinde said. After the court session, both Ayorinde and EFCC’s counsel, Rotimi Oyedepo, confirmed that Amosu had returned N4 billion to government’s coffers.

Also docked over the alleged fraud are two ex-top officers of the Nigerian Air Force (NAF), Air Vice Marshal Jacob Bola Adigun and Air Commodore Gbadebo Owodunni Olugbenga. The former NAF officers were charged along with eight companies.

The companies are Delfina Oil and Gas Ltd, Mcallan Oil And Gas Ltd, Hebron Housing and Properties Company Ltd, Trapezites BDC, Fonds and Pricey Ltd, Deegee Oil and Gas Ltd, Timsegg Investment Ltd and Solomon Health Care Ltd.

All were arraigned by the EFCC on a 26-count charge before Justice Mohammed Idris. They, however, pleaded not guilty to the charge. EFCC lawyer, Oyedepo, later sought a trial date and urged the court to remand the accused persons in prison custody pending the conclusion of the case.

At this juncture, Amosu’s lawyer, Ayorinde informed the court that he has filed a bail application for his client. He said it had also been served on the prosecution. Ayorinde said his client had already refunded a ‘colossal sum’ of money to the anti-graft agency and, as such, he should be granted bail by the court on self-recognizance.

He added that if the court was, however, mindful of imposing bail conditions, it should be on liberal terms. Other defence lawyers, Norrison Quakers (SAN) and A. Etuokwu also said they had filed bail applications for their clients.

While confirming the service of the bail applications, Oyedepo said he would not be opposing the applications. He, however, urged the court to be mindful of the amount involved in the case and impose bail conditions that would compel the defendants to attend their trial.

In his ruling on the bail applications, Justice Idris held that in view of the fact that there was no counter affidavit to the applications, the court was disposed to granting bail to the accused persons. The accused persons were granted bail in the sum of N500 million with two sureties in like sum.

The sureties, according to the judge, must have landed properties within the court’s jurisdiction and should deposit their title documents to the court’s registrar for verification. The sureties are also to swear to an affidavit of means while the accused persons are to deposit their international passports with the court’s registrar.

The matter has been adjourned till July 8 for commencement of trial. In the charge, the accused were alleged to have converted various sums to the tune of over N22.8 billion for their personal use The defendants were also accused of using the sum of over N328 million from the accounts of the Nigerian Air Force between March 21, 2014 and March 12, 2015, to purchase for themselves properties.

Amosun and Adigun were said to have, between July 17 and September 16, 2014 removed over N663.4 million from the Nigerian Air Force accounts to purchase properties at 50-52 Tenterden Grove, London (NW4 1TH) and at 93B Shirehall Park, London NW4 2QU, United Kingdom.

The offences were said to have contravened the provisions of Sections 15 (1), (3) and 18(a) of the Money Laundering (Prohibition) (Amendment) Act, 2012 and punishable under Section 15(3) of the same Act.

The 13-man presidential committee auditing arms procurement between 2007 and 2015 set up by President Muhammadu Buhari had indicted serving and retired military officers, including Amosu and Adigun, in the arms procurement scandal. Over N29 billion and $2 billion had been expended on the NAF procurement activities alone between 2007 and 2015.

Amosu, Adigun and other officers were investigated over 10 NAF contracts totalling $930,500,690 awarded to Societe D’ Equipments Internationaux (SEI) Nig Ltd. between January 2014 and February 2015. New Telegraph had exclusively reported in the November 30, 2015 edition, that the Federal Government had directed the EFCC to prosecute the ex-CAS. Amosu was subsequently arrested and interrogated by the anti-graft agency.

Meanhile, the EFCC also arraigned Air Vice Marshal John Adeniyi Kayode-Beckley before Justice Olubunmi Banjoko of the Federal Capital Territory High Court sitting in Gudu, Abuja on one count charge of N10 million bribery.

AVM Beckley, while serving as the Director of Armament with the Nigerian Air Force, allegedly collected the sum of N10 million as gratification from a contractor, one Mr. Hima Abubakar, of Societe D’Equipments Internationaux Nig. Ltd. The defendant pleaded not guilty to the charge.

In view of his plea, counsel to the EFCC, Cosmas Ugwu, asked the court for a date for trial. But, counsel to the accused person, Y. Maikarfi urged the court to grant the accused bail, stating that the accused person had always been present when called upon.

Ugwu kicked on the basis that the accused is on the verge of retirement and, therefore, may abscond. Justice Banjoko, after listening to both arguments, admitted the accused to bail in the sum of N10 million with two sureties in like sum. The sureties may be ordinary citizens resident in Abuja. The case has been adjourned to September 27, 2016 for trial.