‘Badeh diverted N558m monthly as COAS’

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  • Suicide bombers kill 24 in Borno

The prosecution in the case involving former Chief of Air Staff (COAS), Alex Badeh opened its case yesterday with a witness, who gave details of how he aided Badeh to divert N558.2 million monthly from the Nigerian Air Force’s Personnel and Emolument Vote Account with the United Bank for Africa (UBA).

The witness, Air Commodore Aliyu Yishau (rtd), who said he served as former Director of Finance and Account of the Nigerian Air Force (NAF), while Badeh was CAS, said the diversion lasted between September 2012 and December 2013.

Yishau mounted the witness box after Justice Okon Abang agreed to hear Badeh’s fresh motion at a later date. Badeh is, by the new motion filed by his lawyer, Akin Olujinmi (SAN), challenging the court’s jurisdiction and the competence of the charge against him.

Led in evidence by lead prosecution lawyer, Rotimi Jacobs (SAN), Yishau said he routinely assisted Badeh to divert money which he converts to dollar before handing same to Badeh at his official residence.

He said the NAF received monthly allocations in its Capital Vote account with the Central Bank of Nigeria in Lagos; the Overhead Vote account with Zenith Bank Plc and the Personnel and Emolument Vote account with the UBA.

The witness said he assisted Badeh to acquire and develop landed property in Abuja with the N558.2 million taken monthly form the Personnel Emolument account. He said the money formed part of the leftover after salaries and allowances of workers had been defrayed from the N4 billion received monthly.

He said the monthly movement of the dollar equivalent of N558.2 million to Badeh was not documented because it was not the practice in the military to request a written agreement.

His words: “Although, I cannot remember the figure each year, we received a little about N4 billion monthly for the personnel emolument allocation account. However, our total wage bill as at that time was above N2 billion monthly.

“The balance of the personnel emolument was usually about N1.6 billion to N1.7 billion, depending on the month. Of this amount, N558, 200,000 was for the monthly general administration of the Chief of Army Staff.

“As the Director of Accounts, I would instruct the finance officer at the headquarters of NAF camp, Abuja and after the money is changed, I would take it to Air Chief Marshall Alex Badeh at his official resident in Niger Barracks.

“As military officers, we don’t request for any agreement. However, in some case, I told the finance officers to meet me at the Air House in Niger Barracks with the money so that he can see when I handed over the money to Badeh.

“The instruction for conversion is not in writing. The Chief of Air Staff does give many instructions that are not in writing. The only instructions that were in writing were those requests forwarding instructions from branches and units for approval. When the approvals are given, they are forwarded to my office for necessary payment action.”

The witness denied benefiting directly from the money but that Badeh helped him to complete the houses he was constructing in Abuja and Kaduna, which the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) has temporarily attached.

Yishau said Badeh was the second CAS he served as the Director of Finance Accounts and that Badeh’s predecessor, M.D Umar was still being investigated by the EFCC. He said Badeh provided the dollar equivalents for the purchase of the various property which he assisted him to locate in various parts of Abuja.

“Sometimes in January 2013, the then Chief of Air Staff, asked me to get him a good house in Maitama, where he wants to retire in. I have a friend who was into property, Hussein Umar and I contacted him. Umar said the house he got was N1.1 billion and I told Air Chief Marshal Badeh, which he agreed to pay.

Yishau said Badeh paid another N260 million to purchase a duplex at No. 19 Kumasi Crescent, Wuse II, Abuja for his first son, Alex Badeh (Jnr), N60 million to renovate it and another N90 million to furnish it.

Badeh, he added, bought a commercial plot of land at Plot 1386, Oda Crescent Cadastral Zone A07, Wuse II, Abuja for N650 million and paid N878 million for the construction of a shopping mall at same address and another N304 million to complete the plaza.

Yishau told the court that Badeh paid N330 million to Honourable Bature for a duplex at No. 14 Adzope Crescent, Off Kumasi Crescent, Wuse II, Abuja and also paid N240 million to Rabiu Isyaku Rabiu to buy a semi-detached duplex at No. 8A, Embu Street, by Sigma Apartment, Wuse II, Abuja, for another of his son, Kam. He said the property at No. 2 Nelson Mandela Street Asokoro, Abuja was renovated with N62 million.

As the witness spoke, Badeh wrote intermittently on a plain sheet.

Badeh and a firm, Iyalikam Nigeria Limited were arraigned on March 7 on a 10-count charge of breach of trust and corruption for allegedly diverting about N3.97 billion from NAF’s account.

Although the court later granted him bail at N2 billion with two sureties at N1 billion each, it was learnt yesterday that he was yet to meet the bail conditions.

Justice Abang adjourned till March 23 for continuation of trial.

In the meantime, it was bloody yesterday when a suicide bomber entered a mosque during the subh  (early morning prayer) and detonated her bomb, killing all the people at prayer, except the Imam, who was seriously injured.

The scene of horror was Umarari village near Maiduguri, the Borno State capital.

Another bomb was detonated outside the mosque. At the end of it all, 24 people, including the suicide bombers, died.

They were girls but the one who entered the Mosque dressed like a man to gain access at about4.45am.

The second bomb was detonated near the Imam’s house. The bomber was said to have carefully waited for sympathisers to gather into their midst and blew off herself.

Only the Iman survived the first blast. All worshippers there at the time died instantly, a vigilante member who gave his name as Hassan Ado, said.

The Imam is receiving treatment at the Borno State Specialist Hospital in Maiduguri.

Molai-Umarari, where the killings took place is 10 kilometres from Maiduguri.

An official of the National Emergency Management Agency (NEMA) said 22 bodies were evacuated from the blast scene and taken to the morgue.

“We have concluded evacuation and rescue. We have retrieved 24 bodies including those of the bombers from the village mosque near Maiduguri,” he said.

The mosque was closed after an attack last October. It was only reopened three days ago, residents said.

Umar Usman said he escaped because he was late to worship. “We were just a few meters away from the mosque when a loud bang erupted and all we could see was dark smoke and bodies littered around,” he told The Associated Press.

The last bomb attack in the area took place in January when six people were killed.

In a statement yesterday the military confirmed that 22 people were killed.

Spokesman of the Army, Col. Sani Usman, said: “22 people were killed and 18 others sustained various degrees of injuries.”

He said the suicide bombers attacked the village mosque, where about two dozens of worshipers were killed, with 18 people sustaining various degree of injuries.

The statement added: “These twin mosque explosions occurred at Ummarari village near Molai, a settlement at the outskirts of Maiduguri metropolis, Borno’s capital.

“Troops, security agents and care givers have been mobilised to the affected village, while the injured worshippers have been evacuated to Molai General Hospital for treatment.”

Borno State Governor Kashim Shettima was at the village to condole with the villagers. He commended them for not fleeing the village despite the attacks, describing their action as a show of gallantry.

He assured the villagers that the mosque will be secured, by building a perimeter fence with a locking system to prevent any future attacks from terrorists.

The governor also directed the Commissioner of Water Resources, Dr. Zainab Gimba, to commence the drilling of a borehole in the village for the provision of portable water in the community.

He also donated N500, 000 cash to the affected villagers.

The village head, Modu Ba Mallum, told the governor that yesterday’s mosque attack was as a result of the replacement of military commander last week and lack of patrol vehicles to the 70 vigilante youths assigned to patrol the village for 24 hours.

Nation