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Ex-NAF Chief denies transferring N66m – NEWS AGENCY OF NIGERIA

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Ex-NAF Chief denies transferring N66m – NEWS AGENCY OF NIGERIA

By Wandoo Sombo

Former Air Chief of Staff, retired Air Marshal Mohammed Umar, told the Abuja Division of the Federal High Court on Monday that he had not transferred 66 million naira on behalf of the Nigerian Air Force (NAF).

Umar, led into evidence by his lawyer, Mr. Onyechi Ipeazu, SAN, told the court that he did not authorize such a transfer.

The Nigerian News Agency reports that in February the court acquitted Umar of six of the seven counts of money laundering by the EFCC.

The court, however, ordered him to defend himself on the seventh count.

The seventh count concerns the alleged transfer of 66 million naira from the NAF account to the Capital Law Firm account for the renovation of a house in Asokoro, Abuja

As the hearing resumed, Ipeazu told the court that his client was ready to open his defense as the court ordered and that he would testify as the first defense witness.

As a witness, Umar told the court that he served in the NAF for 36 years, adding that he was promoted to the rank of Air Marshal and appointed Chief of the Air Staff on September 8, 2010 and retired on October 4, 2012.

The witness told the court that as the chief accounting officer of the NAF at the time he had influence, he was not the only person to authorize payments from the NAF account .

“I was not the only person as there is a procurement planning committee that authorizes payment for contracts and renovations and supplies for NAF.

“In addition, the office and accounting manager is authorized to make payment from the NAF account,” Umar told the court.

During cross-examination by the prosecutor, Mr. Sylvanus Tahir, the former aviation chief told the court that the account manager only informed him of transactions authorized by him and not of every transaction.

“The account manager informed me of the transactions that I approve, there are other financial transactions going on such as the payment of salaries that I don’t need to know,” he said.

When asked if he had any other businesses while serving in the Air Force, Umar told the court he owed farms in Abuja and Kaduna states from 17. and four hectares respectively.

The trial judge, Judge Nnamdi Dimgba adjourned the case until September 30 for further cross-examination.

reports that the EFCC has filed a charge of seven counts against Umar for complicity in money laundering and procurement fraud, to the tune of approximately 9.7 billion naira.

The court, however, acquitted Umar of six of the seven counts, but ordered him to defend himself on the seventh count.

The court, in a ruling by Judge Dimgba, said it had found merit in Umar’s non-case submission regarding Counts 1 through 6.

Judge Dimgba held that a holistic review of all of the evidence presented to the court showed that the EFCC had failed to establish a prima facie case that would warrant Umar presenting his defense on the six counts of ‘charge.

The judge maintained that the allegations in the charges were based on speculation, suspicion and assumption.

The court, however, ruled that the former air chief had a case to answer regarding count seven of the prosecution which bordered on allegations that he transferred 66 million naira from the NAF account domiciled at the bank. Stanbic IBTC to a company for the renovation of its property. in Asokoro.

He subsequently dismissed the request for a dismissal on count seven and ordered Umar to open his defense on the count.

Source: NAN

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