Tosin Owobo, an operative of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC), on Wednesday described to a Federal High Court in Lagos, Nigeria, how now-retired Air Marshal Adesola Amosu Nanayon and two other Air Force chiefs diverted the sum of N3 billion meant for the security of the country's maritime environment into his personal oil and gas companies.
Led in evidence by EFCC prosecutor Rotimi Oyedepo, Owobo, who is an Assistant Detective Superintendent with the anti-graft agency, offered graphic details of how Nanayon, who was at the time Nigeria’s Chief of Air Staff (COAS), received the money from the Nigeria Maritime Administration and Safety Agency (NIMASA) under the leadership of Patrick Akpolobokemi.
Amosu is standing trial before the court over the fraud alongside Air Vice Marshal Jacob Bola Adigun, Air Commodore Gbadebo Owodunni Olugbenga, and eight fictitious companies.
The companies facing trial alongside the three Air Force chiefs are: Delfina Oil and Gas Ltd, Mcallan Oil And Gas Limited, Hebron Housing and Properties Company Limited, Trapezites BDC, Fonds and Pricey Ltd, Deegee Oil and Gas Limited, and Timsegg Investment Limited and Solomon Health Care.
At the resumed trial on Wednesday, Mr. Owobo informed the court that the anti-graft agency discovered in its investigation that there was a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) between the Nigerian Air force (NAF) and NIMASA while Air Marshall Alex Badeh was the nation's COAS, and that a sum of N1. 480 billion was paid by NIMASA to the NAF account in 2014 for securing the nation's maritime environment.
He said the money was paid in two tranches of N1.480 million into an account with Skye Bank.
Owobo also told the court that on assumption of office by Air Marshal Amosu as the nation's COAS, he continued with Badeh's MOU, and made a proposal of N4 billion to NIMASA which he claimed was needed to manage Maritime Security, but stated that the former Director-General of NIMASA, Dr. Akpolobokemi, only released the sum of N3 billion, which was paid in three tranches of N1 billion each into the Special Emergency Operation of NAF .
The witness, who was the third in the criminal trial, further stated that upon investigating how the money was spent, he said it was discovered that the monies were diverted into the Air Force chief's oil and gas companies.
Those firms were identified as: Right Option Oil and Gas Limited, Delfina Oil and Gas Limited, Mcallan Oil and Gas Limited, and Deegee Oil and Gas Limited.
An attempt by the witness to give details of the documents tendered as exhibits in the trial was however opposed by the lawyers representing the accused persons: Bolaji Ayorinde, Kemi Balogun and Norrison Quakers, leading 11 others. They argued that the witness was not the maker of the document tendered, neither did he confirm the authentication of the documents from the maker, and that he cannot, therefore, cannot give evidence on the exhibits.
Mr. Oyedepo, urging the court to discountenance the objection raised by the defence, affirmed that the witness is an Investigating Officer who investigated the alleged crime and can therefore give evidence on the documents tendered.
Prior to the commencement of the day's proceedings, the presiding judge, Mohammed Idris, ruled against the reliefs sought by the defence, in which they urged the court to expunge earlier evidence given by the witness in the trial.
The matter was subsequently adjourned till tomorrow for ruling on whether Mr. Owobo can give evidence on the documents tendered, and for continuation of the trial of the suspects.
The suspects were first arraigned before the court on June 29 on 23 counts charge relating to fraud, money laundering and stealing.
The prosecution says the offences are contrary to sections 18(a) of the Money Laundering (Prohibition) (Amendment) Act of 2012, and punishable under Section 15(3) of that law.