N4.8bn Money Laundering Charge: I helped Umar Purchase Houses in Abuja, Kaduna, Kano – Witness

The first prosecution witness, Air Commodore Salisu Yushau, on the going trial of a former Chief of Air Staff, Air Vice Marshal, Mohammed Umar (retd), Monday, painted a picture of sleaze and corruption which took place during the tenure of the Air Vice Marshal.
Umar, who was Chief of Air Staff between 2010 and 2012. is facng charges bordering on money laundering, in breach of money laundering Act 2011 as ameded.
The Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC), is accusing the defendant of converting equivalent of N4.8bn to the US dollars, taken from the Nigerian Airforce coffers, to purchase several choice properties in Abuja, Kano and Kaduna.
The prosecution lawyer, Sylvanus Tahir told the court that he intended to tender both oral and documentary evidence to proof that Umar stole from the coffers of the NAF, the proceeds he used to purchase properties in Maitama, Asokoro, Mabushi, all in Abuja, and in Kano and Kaduna.
Air Commodore Yushau, who said he retired from NAF in 2013, was led in evidence by Tahir. .
According to the witness, who was the Director of Finance and Account of the NAF at the time Umar was the Chief of Air Staff (CAS), he helped the defendant purchased the said choice properties.
He said: “The defendant was my boss from Sept. 2010 to 2011. He appointed me Director of Account and Finance. I was responsible to him on financial matters, I disburse money as authorised by CAS as Accounting Officer to NAF.
“I also ensured that funds released to NAF were retired to agencies of Federal Government, like Accountant General and Auditor-General of the Federation.”
Yushau stated further that the Airforce received N4.1bn monthly for payment of salaries, and other emoluments.
However, after salaries, which stood at N2.3bn, the balance of N1.6bn is shared among offices.
The witness held further: “NAF was receiving N4.1bn monthly. However, actually the figure paid for salary was between N2.3bn and N2.4bn leaving a balance of 1.6bn. The sum of N568m was usually set aside for the office of CAS. The sum of N120m was also earmarked for the office of the Director of Finance. At resumption I told CAS that my office did not require that money. So the money was put in the CAS’ office, using it to maintain Airforce formations and other welfare. The balance was used for training, maintainace of Airforce Police, and other projects. E.g. construction of barracks , among others.
“The sum of N558.2m was usually converted to US dollars and taken to Umar at home every minth. The money was usually brought to me by Finance Officer, at the headquarters of NAF by a Group Captain.
“In some occasions I asked the Finance Officer to follow me to his (Umar’s) official residence at Niger Barracks, Abuja, so that he could witness the handing over.”
Asked how long it lasted, Yushau said monthly return to Umar lasted upto September, 2012 when he retired from the NAF
To another question, Yushau said he believed Umar converted the proceeds to personal use.
Throwing light on the properties he bought on the order of the former CAS, Yushau said: “My My boss called and asked me to look for somebody who could him buy a house at Maitama, Abuja, where he intended to settle down after retirement. I called my friend a lawyer and told him what my boss wanted. After a couple of days, he came back and told me that he had found a home of Adama Street, Abuja. I went with him to inspect the house and I told Umar of the house. He asked me to arrange for inspection. I picked Umar, went to see the property in the evening. He saw the house and was very happy. He gave the go ahead to tell Barrister to negotiate the price. He arrived at N700m. He authorised the purchase from the money usually given to him monthly. I then directed the finance Officer at headquarters to give the lawyer equivalent of 700m in dollars. He gave a name on which the deed of assignment should be prepared that is Mohammed Maijamaa. I gave the name to the Barrister. After that the deed of assignment was brought to me for onward transmission to Umar.
“In early 2012, he called me to get him a house at Asokoro that he did not want to stay in Maitama again. Couple of days later the Barrister called and said he got two houses at Asokoro. We went to inspect one the houses. I went with Umar later for inspection He directed the lawyer to negotiate the price. After about a day or two he came up with N860m. He asked that we should go ahead to pay. The house has underground Hall, two bedroom boysquarters
“Because of tht one month upkeep was not given to him in anticipation of the transaction. He gave us the balance in dollars which I added to the month’s upkeep and payment was effected by the Barrister.
“Just like the previous house at Maitama, he also gave me the same name for the preparation of deed of assignment, power of Attorney and title deed.
The lawyer brought all to me on onward transmission to Umar. After that he said a small mosque be constructed in the compound. Also, he said the fence be reconstructed, and a swimming pool be added. An architect was contracted to carry out the tssk
“A price of N64m was arrived at. Umar gave us the go ahead to pay. That was the end of that transaction.
“Sometime in 2011, he directed me to go to Kano to look for somebody to help him buy a house in Kano so that any time he visited home, he would have a place to stay. Before then we had to rent accommodation for him. I went to Kano and met a friend Jibrin Alla. We were able to get an agent who helped to scout for a house in Kano. We purchase the seven bedroom duplex with enclosed swimming pool, three living rooms, three bedrooms. Lawn tennis, squash court, two bedroom boys quarter. The house belonged to a Sudanese.
“After expecting the house I reported back to him. We went to Kano, inspected and he had discussion with the owner. The amount of N250m was agreed. Umar after returning to Abuja, he gave me the money in dollars and I called Alla to come to Abuja and collect the money. I gave him the money in dollars. I can’t remember the name on the title deed”
“Also in 20111, he told me he needed a house in Kaduna that he had lived in Kaduna for years that he needed a house there.”
The case, which is before Justice Nnamdi Dimgba of a Federal High Court, Abuja, was adjourned till February 16 for continuation of trial

Author: News Editor

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