We await result of EFCC probe, say governors
The first prosecution witness in the on-going trial of former Chief of Air Staff, Air Chief Marshal Dikko, yesterday told the court that the alleged N558.200 million given to the defendant as monthly upkeep from the coffers of Nigerian Air Force was not receipted.
Umar was re-arraigned before the court by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) on a seven-count charge of money laundering.
Air Commodore Salisu Yaushau had told the Federal High Court that the former Chief of Air Staff collected over N13.3 billion for two years as his monthly upkeep.
Yaushau, the Director of Finance and Accounts, Nigeria Air Force (NAF), also told the court how he assisted the retired Air Chief to acquire properties worth over N2.3 billion across the country out of the monthly upkeep of N558.200m.
Under cross-examination however, the witness stated that the payments made to the former Chief of Air Staff were not captured in the cash and votes books of the Nigerian Airforce.
The lead defence counsel, Hassan Liman (SAN), at this point tendered in evidence, a book titled Manual of Financial Administration of the Armed Forces of Nigeria, 2012, which provided that receipt be issued on all payments made by any of the forces.
Although the prosecution counsel, Sylvanus Tahir, objected to the admissibility of the book on the grounds that it was certified as a public document by the relevant authorities, it was however admitted in evidence by Justice Nnamdi Dimgba.
Tahir hinged his objections on the provisions of sections 102 and 104 (1) of the Evidence Act, 2010, which required the Certified True Copies (CTC) of all public documents.
In his short ruling, Justice Nnamdi Dimgba agreed with the submissions of the defence counsel that the exhibit was an original copy and therefore needs no certification.
He further agreed with Liman that the document sought to be tendered was a subsidiary law and therefore required no certification.
Following the admissibility of the manual, the defence counsel referred the witness to paragraph three, which provides that all payments must be backed by receipts.
In his response, the witness admitted the existence of such provisions but explained that the payments referred to in the manual are those for which requests were made to the Chief Accounting Officer and authority given for such expenditures to be incurred.
The matter has been adjourned till March 28 and 29 for continuation of cross-examination of the witness.
In another development, governors of the 36 states of the federation have expressed readiness to wait for the result of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) investigation of the alleged diversion of the refund made to states on the excess charges of Paris Club.
The governors, who rose from a closed-door meeting of the Nigerian Governors Forum (NGF) late Wednesday night at the Presidential Villa, said they would be waiting to see what officials of the EFCC would come up with.
Media reports have it that some governors might have used fictitious consultants to divert some of the money from the Paris Club. Chairman of the NGF and Zamfara State Governor Abdulaziz Yari, said the governors were ready for the EFCC investigations.