THE Economic and Financial Crimes Commission is set to arraign a former Chief of Air Staff, Air Marshal Dikko Umar (retd.), for allegedly diverting over N13.5bn during his time as the head of the Nigerian Air Force.
It was learnt that the commission would arraign Umar before Justice Binta Nyako of the Federal High Court, Abuja, on Wednesday (today).
A former Director of Finance and Accounts at the NAF, Air Commodore Salisu Yushau (retd.), had revealed before the Federal High Court sitting in Abuja, that some past NAF chiefs diverted N558.2m monthly from funds meant for the payment of salaries of NAF officials.
He told the court that the system was in place when he served under former Air chief, M. D. Umar, from 2010 to October 2012.
Umar headed the air force from September 9, 2010 to October 4, 2012. Calculations by our correspondent showed that N13,528,600,000 was the total sum allegedly diverted for the 23 months he served.
It was also learnt that the EFCC would arraign Umar for his alleged role in the $2.1bn arms scam.
Umar, his successor, Air Chief Marshal Alex Badeh (retd.); and Badeh’s successor, Air Marshal Adesola Amosu (retd.), are under investigation by the EFCC for allegedly diverting millions of dollars.
The investigations centred on how 10 contracts, totalling $930,500,690.00, were awarded; the payment of N4,402,687,569.41 for unexecuted contracts; the procurement of two used Mi-24V helicopters instead of the recommended Mi-35M series at $136,944,000.00; four used Alpha-Jets for the NAF at US$7,180,000.00 funded by ONSA and the cannibalisation of engines from NAF fleet to justify procurement of jets.
Other areas of investigation included the excessive pricing of 36D6 Low Level Air Defence Radar at $33m instead of $6m per one; the strange transfer of $2m to Mono Marine Corporation Nigeria Limited owned by some air force officers; the N15bn lavished on the maintenance of its Alpha-Jets, C-130H aircraft and Mi-24V/35P helicopters; the N2.5bn contracts awarded to Syrius Technologies(Ukrainian company) not registered in Nigeria and the award of seven contracts worth N599,118,000.00 contracts to Defence Industry Corporation of Nigeria in which only two were delivered.
Meanwhile, the EFCC has obtained a remand order to keep a former Minister of Aviation, Chief Femi Fani-Kayode, in custody for the next two weeks.
The remand order is, however, renewable after 14 days depending on the outcome of investigations.
Fani-Kayode is being investigated by the EFCC for allegedly receiving N840m when he was the Director of Publicity for the Goodluck Jonathan Campaign Organisation in 2015.
The money, which Fani-Kayode confessed to receiving, was said to have emanated from the account of the Central Bank of Nigeria.
The commission had recently frozen the ex-minister’s Zenith Bank account with number 1004735721 domiciled at Maitama, Abuja.
Fani-Kayode had told our correspondent that the PDP leadership gave him the impression that the money was sourced from private individuals.
He said, “I served as the director of publicity of the Jonathan campaign organisation and I was told to set up an account for the directorate, which I did. I never received money from the CBN but like all the other directors, we received money from the director of finance.”
However, a detective told our correspondent that the EFCC was working on the assumption that the ex-minister might have received more than N840m.
The source said, “Besides the N840m that Fani-Kayode admitted to receiving, we believe he got more. Thanks to BVN (Bank Verification Number), we can trace all other accounts that he has. We will trace the transaction history and see how much he truly received and how much was from the public funds.
“There are other petitions against the former minister and he will be grilled. In the coming days, we will reveal the outcome of investigations.”
When asked if the investigation of the former minister was a witch-hunt as alleged, the detective said such excuses were not tenable in court.
He recalled that Fani-Kayode was arraigned in court for several offences between 2008 and 2015, noting that this was under the PDP administrations.
“The issue of a witch-hunt does not apply here. Fani-Kayode faced a criminal trial under (late President Umaru) Yar’Adua and (former President Goodluck) Jonathan. Did it mean they also hated him?” the detective said.
Meanwhile, it was learnt that the commission might seize some of the ex-minister’s properties as investigations continue.
“Section 29 permits the assets of a person arrested under Section 28 to be seized by the state. The Recovery of Public Property Special Provisions Act Cap R42004 Laws of the Federation also empowers the EFCC to seize assets,” the source added.
Meanwhile, the EFCC on Tuesday, also invited and quizzed an Executive Director of First Bank Limited, Mr. Dauda Lawal.
He was said to have been invited to the anti-graft office in Ikoyi, Lagos, where he was allegedly quizzed in connection with the funds collected by the bank from the immediate past Minister of Petroleum Resources, Mrs. Diezani Alison-Madueke.
A source in the bank confirmed the invitation of Lawal by the commission but described it as “routine”.