The Federal High Court on Thursday adjourned the case of former Chief of Air Staff, Air Vice Marshal, Mohammed Dikko Umar (rtd) standing trial on a seven-count charge bothering on money laundering in breach of money laundering act 2011 as amended till 28th and 29th of March 2017 for further cross-examination of the witness.
The prosecution witness, Air Commodore Salisu Yushau (retd) in a cross-examination by the defence counsel, Hassan Liman (SAN), told the court that he is an experienced account officer in the air force having joined the force since 1990, he added that he rose to the highest position of Director of Finance and account before his retirement in 2013
Responding to a question, the witness acknowledged the 2007 and 2009 Federal Government of Nigerian regulations on financial matters, stressing that the financial regulations regulates financial system of the Government, Ministries, Department and Agencies (MDA) and other relevant government establishment including arm forces of Nigeria and the military which has its own norms despite any financial regulation.
According to the witness, there was a manual on financial regulation that governs the Nigerian Air Force before his retirement in 2013 which spelt out in details his supervisory role on financial matters.
He further stated that according to the manual, all financial payments are to be receipted, endorsed and dully documented for reference purposes
The prosecution counsel, Sylvanus Tahir however objected to a question from Hassan (Defence Counsel) emanating from a manual issued while the witness was still in office, bearing the signature of the Chief of Air staff O.O. Petinrin who was formally the Chief of Defence Staff as stated by the witness.
In his argument, the said document does not meet the provision of section 101(1) of the evidence Act, could be a pirated copy and thus cannot be relied upon as it is neither a certified true copy nor a public document that originate from any officer.
Hassan however opposed the argument of the prosecution, stressing that the witness has identified the document as a property of the Nigerian Air Force and therefore relied on the provision of section 85 and 86 of the evidence Act which stipulates that ‘primary evidence is itself produced for inspection by the court’
The trial Judge, Justice Nnamdi Dimgba in a short ruling however admitted and marked the document in evidence as exhibit AMD1 against the contention of the prosecution, stressing that so long it is a public document printed by the mega press and used by the Nigerian Air force, the issue on its certification should not be a head log.
After the ruling, Yushau told the court that there are three main signatories to the Nigerian Air Force account but was signatory to an account designated at the headquarters of the Air Force for the construction of air force conference centre. Hence the three signatories: the commander pay and accounting group Ikeja, Lago; Chief accountant and Cashier, are subordinate and accountable to the office of the Chief of Air Staff.
Justice Nnamdi Dimgba however adjourned the case to 28 and 29 of March 2017 for continuation of trial to allow the defence retrieve a witness statement made by the witness at the time he was in the coffers of the EFCC.