Judges Conference Stalls Trial of Former CAS, Air Marshal Umar

The trial of former Chief of Air Staff, Air Marshal, Mohammed Dikko Umar (retd) was Tuesday stalled following the absence of Justice Nnamdi Dimgba of a Federal High Court Abuja.
The Judge was said to be attending the Judges conference organised by the United Nations in Abuja.
Consequently, the trial has been adjourned to May 23 at the consent of counsel to both parties.
At the last adjourned date former Director of Finance and Account, Nigerian Air Force, Air Commodore Salisu Yaushau (retd) told the court that he had no documented evidence or receipts to show that the former Chief of Air Staff collected the sum of N558,200,000.00 monthly for two years.
Yaushau, a star prosecution witness in the ongoing trial of Air Marshal Umar, had told the Court that the sum of N558.200m given to the defendant as his monthly upkeep from the coffers of the Nigerian Air Force, were not receipted.
The witness told the court in his evidence-in-chief that the former Chief of the Air Staff collected over N13.3b for two years as his monthly upkeep from the coffers of the Nigerian Air force.
He also told the court how he assisted Umar to acquire properties across the country worth over N2.3b out of the monthly upkeep of N558,200m.
But under cross examination by lead defence counsel, Hassan Liman (SAN), the witness said the payments made to Umar were not captured in the cash and votes books of the Nigerian Air force.
The defence counsel tendered in evidence, a book titled “Manual of Financial Administration of the Armed Forces of Nigeria, 2012” which provides that receipt be issued on all payments made by any of the forces.
Though the prosecution counsel, Sylvanus Tahir objected to the admissibility of the book on the grounds that it was not certified as a public documents by the relevant authorities, it was admitted in evidence by Justice Nnamdi Dimgba.
Tahir predicated his objections on the provisions of sections 102 and 104 (1) of the Evidence Act, 2010, which require the Certified True Copies (CTC) of all public documents.
In his short ruling, Justice Dimgba agreed with the submissions of the defence counsel that the exhibit was an original copy and therefore needs no certification.
Justice Dimgba also ruled that the then Chief of Defence Staff, Air Chief Marshal Oluseye Petirin authorised the publication of the manual to be used in conjunction with the Federal Government Financial regulations of Government Ministries, Departments and Agencies (MDAs) 2007 and 2009 revered version.
The Judge also agreed with Liman that the document sought to be tendered was a subsidiary law and therefore needs no certification.
Liman had cited a Supreme Court authority and Sections 85, 86 and 88 of the Evidence Act to persuade the court, in admitting the manual in evidence.
After the Manual was admitted in evidence, the defence counsel referred the witness to paragraphs three at page iv which provides that all payments must be backed by receipts.
Responding, the witness admitted the existence of such provisions but explained that the payments referred to in the manual means payments that contained a source documents whereby a request to insure expenditure was sent to the chief accounting officer and authority is given for that expenditure to be incurred.
He added that where an accounting officer says give me this and there is no source document, that cannot be said to be payment.
Yaushau said although he was the Director of Finance and Accounts of the Nigerian Air Force headquarters, he was not a signatory to its accounts.
According to the witness, the signatories to NAF’s accounts were the Commander Pay and Accounting Group, Ikeja, Lagos; the Chief Accountant who is a senior civil servant usually from the office of the Accountant General of the Federation and the Air Force Cashier.
The witness said he was only a signatory to an account that was designed for headquarters of the NAF for construction of NAF Conference Centre and for an intervention account for the activation of NAF C130 fleets.
He disclosed that the three financial regulations were under the unit of Pay and Accounts Group which was under his supervision.
The witness added that all the units of NAF maintained cash and votes books to show receipt and disbursements of funds.
He admitted that for the account which he was a signatory, he maintained those cash and votes books to show receipt and disbursements of funds.
The witness had earlier told the court that the Chief of the Air staff is the Chief Accounting Officer of the Nigerian Air Force and it was his duty to ensure accountability, probity, transparency, stewardship and Financial responsibility in all ramifications in the management of Finance in the force.
He added that although he was the Director of Finance and Accounts of the Nigeria Air force, he was responsible to the Chief of Air the staff.
Umar was re-arraigned before the court by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) on a 7- count charges on money laundering in violation of the Money Laundering Act, 2011, why being the Chief of Air Staff between September 2010 and 2012.

Author: News Editor

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