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N22.8bn Fraud: Skye Bank Official Testify Against Air Force Chiefs

Skye Bank Compliant Officer, Mr. Mojeed Olatunji, has explained the role he played in the alleged N22.8 billion fraud perpetrated by former Chief of Air Staff, Air Marshal Adesola Amosu, Vice Marshal Jacob Bola Adigun and Air Commodore Gbadebo Owodunni Olugbenga.

Mojeed, who is the first prosecution witness of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) in the trial of the three Nigerian Air Force (NAF) chiefs over the alleged fraud, narrated before a Federal High Court sitting in Lagos, south-west Nigeria, that Skye Bank Plc received an enquiry from the anti-graft agency on January 30, 2016, demanding for NAF’s operational account. 

The bank, in response, furnished the commission with the Account Opening Package that includes signatories to the account, mandate,  statement of account and customer’s instructions regarding some transactions through the account. 

The Certified True Copy (CTC) of these documents were tendered and admitted as exhibits.

The prosecution witness also stated that on September 11, 2014, there was a debit of N2, 409,367,700; while on September 15, 2016, the sum of N959, 750, 015 was transferred from the account to NAF Special Emergency Operation (NSEO). 

According to him, on September 18, 2014, the account has debited the sum of N893,295,605; while on September 24, 2014, the sum of N556,321,894, was transferred to NSEO. Also on December 5, 2014, March 16, 2015, and May 15, 2015, there were inflows of N4, 597, 837, 900; N1 billion; N1. 246, 052, 850 and N2. 886, 518, 800 from the office of National Security Adviser and the  Accountant-General of the Federation (AGF) into the NAF’s account with Skye Bank. And on June 2, 2015, there was a payment of N1,689,498,494 from NAF’s account to NAF Samal Lafia account.

Mojeed stated further that on July 10, the sum of N1.072,111,675 was paid into the account from the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN), and on December 11, 2014, the sum of N N2, 274, 400, 173.38 was debited into the account of NSEO; while on December 12, one Emeka withdrew the sum of N11, 250, 000.  Between March 18, 2014, and May 19, 2015, the sum of N695,215,729; N304,784,271; N719, 206, 592; N572,446,258 and N1.247,303,186 were paid into the accounts of NSEO with a new generation bank.

The witness, who was led in evidence by the Prosecution Counsel Rotimi Oyedepo, further stated that the sums of N1, 639,215,614, N11.8 million; N896, 205,650; N793, 292, 825; N652, 719, 825 and N419, 392,560 were transferred from NAF’s account to NSEO’s account between May 22, 2015, and July 14, 2015; while N7, 908, 857.61 was withdrawn by one Sergeant Agbogidi Murphy on September 9, 2015.

The prosecution witness said all the transactions were carried out following January 28, 2014, a directive by the three signatories to the NAF account namely Vice Marshal Adigun, Commodore Gbadebo and POC Ifeogu.

An attempt by the lawyers led by Chief  Bolaji Ayorinde, Norrison Quakers, Kemi Balogun and Rotimi Ogunesan,  all Senior Advocates of Nigeria (SANs), for the three Air Force chiefs to stall the proceedings by objecting to the prosecution witness testifying in the matter was overruled by the court.

Three Air Force officers – Air Vice Marshal Jacob Bola Adigun, Air Commodore Gbadebo Owodunni, and Olugbenga – were arraigned before the court by the EFCC on 23 counts bordering on fraud, money laundering and stealing. They were arraigned alongside some limited liability companies on June 29 for the alleged offenses.

The companies are Delfina Oil and Gas Limited, McAllan Oil and Gas Limited, Hebron Housing and Properties Company Limited, Trapezitrs Bureau De Change ((BDC), Fonds and Pricey Limited, Deegee Oil and Gas Limited, Timsegg Investment Limited and Solomon Health Care Limited.

The accused persons were alleged to have committed the offenses between March 5, 2014, and May 4, 2015.

The offenses according to the EFCC are contrary to sections 18(a) of the Money Laundering (Prohibition) (Amendment) Act, 2012, and punishable under Section 15(3) of the same Act.

They all pleaded not guilty to the charge and were admitted to bail by the court.

In one of the counts of the charge, the accused persons were alleged to have converted the sum of N21,467,634,707.43 billion, property of the Nigerian Air Force, which sum was derived from stealing, to their personal use.

They were also alleged to have between May 5, 2014, and May 4, 2015 in Lagos, indirectly converted the sum of N5, 291, 306, 950.28, property of the NAF, “which sum you reasonably ought to have known forms part of the proceeds of an unlawful act, to wit: stealing.

Amosu, Adigun and Olugbenga, were alleged to have between July 17 and September 16, 2014, used the British Pounds Sterling, equivalent of N663, 443, 291 removed from the accounts of the NAF to “purchase for yourselves two properties situated at 50-52 Tenterden Grove, London (NW41TH) and 93B Shirehall Park, London NW4 2QU, United Kingdom.”

The EFCC further alleged that  Amosu and his co-accused had between March 3, 2014, and March 12, 2015, used the sum of N202, 920, 200 million, which they removed from the accounts of the NAF, to purchase for themselves a property situated at 1, River Street, Wuse II, Abuja.

Air Marshal Amosu and the two Air Force officers were also alleged to have between March 6 and April 30, 2015, used the sum of N428, 139, 539, which they jointly removed from the accounts of the Nigerian Air Force, to renovate and purchase medical equipment for their hospital, Solomon HealthCare Limited, located at 24, Adeniyi Jones Street, Ikeja, Lagos.

Amosu Adigun were also alleged to have between January 8 and April 13, 2015, used the sum of N1,701,400, 570 removed from the accounts of the NAF to purchase for themselves a property situated at Agobogba Street, Parkview, Ikoyi, Lagos.

The presiding judge, Mohammed Idris, adjourned till Friday for the continuation of trial.

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