An Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, EFCC, investigation officer, Tosin Owobo, yesterday testified how three former air chiefs allegedly diverted N21 billion to their personal accounts from the Nigeria Air Force, NAF.
Mr. Owobo said the officers diverted the sum through several companies which they registered for the purpose. According to him, none of the companies had any transaction or contract with NAF but were used to siphone money from its accounts.
Mr. Owobo was testifying in the trial of a former Chief of Air Staff, Adesola Amosu, former NAF Chief of Accounts and Budgeting, Jacob Adigun, and a former Director of Finance and Budget, Olugbenga Gbadebo. They are standing trial before Justice Mohammed Idris of the Federal High Court in Lagos.
EFCC accused them of converting N21 billion from NAF through various companies, namely 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.
Led in evidence by prosecution counsel Rotimi Oyedepo, Mr. Owobo said N5.9 billion was transferred from NAF accounts to Delfina Oil and Gas.
He narrated how once the money was converted to dollars, it would be handed over to Mr. Gbadebo, who took it to Mr. Adigun, who in turn handed it to Mr. Amosu.
He said Mcallan Oil and Gas received N6.1 billion, while Trapezites BDC received N3.6 billion.
Mr. Owobo said Deegee Oil and Gas received N800 million from NAF accounts, while Timsegg also got the same amount.
“These companies were not into oil and gas. The N21 billion was moved from various NAF accounts without appropriation,” he said.
Mr. Owobo revealed that Mr. Adigun admitted during interrogation that he opened Delfina Oil and Gas’s bank account and runs it.
“There was no contract or memorandum of understanding between Delfina Oil and Gas and NAF,” he said.
The witness said Mr. Adigun incorporated Mcallan Oil and Gas and opened its bank account, which he operated. “There was no service rendered to NAF by the company,” he said.
Mr. Owobo further testified that Deegee Oil and Gas’ bank account, which were also allegedly used to divert funds, was operated by Mr. Gbadebo
“He controlled the account which received funds from NAF. There was no contract or MOU between them, and no service was rendered by Deegee Oil and Gas to NAF.
“Timsegg Investment also belongs to Gbadebo. There was no service rendered by Timsegg to NAF,” he said.
Mr. Owobo further told the court that Mr. Adigun also owns Hebron Housing and Properties, which also received fund transfers from NAF despite rendering no service to it.
According to him, all the accounts had a single accounts officer, Funke Osinsanmi, at Zenith Bank where they were domiciled.
The EFCC operative said she would receive instructions from Mr. Gbadebo, liaise with various Bureau de Change operators to convert the sums to dollars, and hand them to Mr. Gbadebo and other NAF “bank runners”.
Mr. Owobo said the banker introduced the owner of Trapezites BDC to Mr. Adigun, who eventually sold the company to him.
“We interviewed Adigun who confirmed to have received dollars from Gbadebo. He said he received instructions from Amosu on what the dollars were to be used for. Some were handed over to him.
“We interviewed Amosu and he confirmed to have received dollars from Adigun and that all operations and financial transactions were carried out by his instruction to the director of finance, and that all the withdrawals from the NAF accounts were made via instructions from him,” the witness said.
Mr. Owobo said the funds transferred from NAF accounts were not part of the defendants’ salaries or allowances.
“The funds in these company accounts were not their salaries. The funds came from various NAF operations accounts which receive funds from CBN for general operations. These were not their salary accounts,” he said.
Mr. Owobo said some of the funds from Hebron Housing and Properties were used to acquire properties for the defendants.
He said a developer, Babatunde Omolehin of Canon Projects, told EFCC investigators that he met Mr. Adigun who informed him that he owned Hebron Housing and Properties.
He (Mr. Omolehin) subsequently received N1.4 billion from Mr. Adigun to develop some properties for him.
Mr. Owobo said the properties include 40A Bourdillion Road, Ikoyi which is 300 square meters, 12 blocks of flats in Parkview Estate, and another 12 blocks of flats in Victoria Island.
“The properties were not purchased in the name of NAF but by Adigun. He also purchased properties in Abuja,” he said.
Mr. Owobo said over N600 million was transferred to a company, Right Option Oil and Gas, for the purchase of two properties in the United Kingdom through Mr. Adigun’s brother.
According to him, the company, in turn, transferred about $3 million to UK for the properties, and that they were not in NAF’s name. “They were for Amosu and Adigun,” he said.
Mr. Owobo further testified that N2.1 billion was used to purchase diagnostic equipment from General Electric for Solomon Health Care, allegedly owned by Mr. Amosu.
He said General Electric confirmed receiving the funds from Solomon Health Care for the equipment, and that the money was transferred from Delfina Oil and Gas.
Mr. Owobo said so far, over N2 billion had been returned to the Federal Government by Mr. Amosu, as well as some properties, which he said have been temporarily forfeited.