THE Federal High Court in Lagos yesterday heard how former Chief of Air Staff, Air Marshal Adesola Amosu (rtd), allegedly diverted part of the N21 billion he stole from the Nigeria Air Force (NAF).
An Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) investigator, Tosin Owobo, said Amosu laundered the money through various oil and gas companies.
Owobo, an Assistant Detective Superintendent at EFCC, was testifying for the prosecution in Amosu’s trial.
EFCC arraigned the former air chief along with a former NAF Chief of Accounts and Budgeting, Air Vice Marshal Jacob Adigun and a former Director of Finance and Budget, Air Commodore Olugbenga Gbadebo.
On how part of the money was allegedly laundered, Owobo said in 2014, Air Marshal Amosu wrote to the Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency (NIMASA) requesting for funds to provide maritime security.
Air Marshal Amosu
He said Air Marshal Amosu listed what was needed to provide maritime security and sent a proposal to former NIMASA Director-General Dr. Patrick Akpobolokemi, who is also facing separate money laundering charges.
The witness said Amosu demanded over N4 billion from NIMASA “as the cash amount needed” for the security service.
According to the witness, Akpobolokemi approved N3 billion, which was paid to NAF under Amosu.
“The money was released to NAF Special Emergency Operation account in 2014. NAF had also sent as part of the memo the account they wanted the money to be paid into,” Owobo said.
The EFCC investigator said the letter requesting for the money from NIMASA was signed by Adigun on Amosu’s behalf.
“We discovered that between August and September 2014, the money was paid in three installments of N1 billion each to NAF,” he said.
The witness further testified that the money was transferred from the NAF account to several oil and gas companies, such as Right Option Oil and Gas, Delfina Oil and Gas, McAllan Oil and Gas, among others.
“As the monies came in, they were being transferred to various oil and gas companies. We carried out further analysis to know the accounts. We wrote the bank, requesting the statement of account of these oil companies,” the witness added.
EFCC prosecutor Rotimi Oyedepo tendered the account opening documents of the oil and gas companies as well as details of the NAF Special Emergency Operation account.
But, when he sought to ask the witness questions based on the documents, defence counsel, including Chief Bolaji Ayorinde (SAN) and Norrison Quakers (SAN), objected.
Their objection was on the basis that Owobo was not the maker of the documents, adding that the documents should speak for themselves. They said only the documents’ “maker” could give evidence based on them.
But Oyedepo argued that since the witness was the investigator, he was at liberty to say what he discovered, including making references to the documents.
The defendants were charged along with 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.
EFCC accused them of converting N21 billion from NAF around March 5, 2014 in Lagos.
They were also accused of concealing “proceeds of crime” and thereby committed an offence contrary to Section 18(a) of the Money Laundering (Prohibition) (Amendment) Act, 2012 and punishable under Section 17(a).
They pleaded not guilty.
Justice Idris adjourned until today for ruling and continuation of trial.