N22.8bn fraud: Amosu, others opt for plea-bargain

A Federal High Court sitting in Lagos was on Friday informed that a former Chief of Air Staff, Air Marshal Adesola Amosu (rtd), two serving senior air force officers and eight companies who are presently facing a N22.8bn fraud charge brought against them by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC),  have opted for  a plea-bargain.

The two serving senior air force officers arraigned alongside Amosu are: Air Vice Marshal Jacob Bola Adigun, Air Commodore Gbadebo Owodunni Olugbenga. While the companies are Delfina Oil and Gas Limited, McAllan Oil and Gas Limited, Hebron Housing and Properties Company Limited, Trapezitrs Bureau De Change (BDC), Fonds and Pricey Limited, Deegee Oil and Gas Limited, Timsegg Investment Limited, and Solomon Health Care Limited.

The accused persons were alleged to have commited the offences between March 5, 2014 and May 4, 2015.

The three air force officers were alleged to have converted several billions of Naira belonging to the Nigerian Air Force (NAF), to their personal use.

At Friday’s proceedings, the EFCC informed the court of the willingness of the accused persons to enter into a plea-bargain settlement.

“The accused persons have  approached the commission for a plea-bargain and the agreements drafted by the commission have been served on lawyers for the accused persons,” EFCC’s lawyer, Rotimi Oyedepo, said.

He therefore urged the court to allow the commission to open the accused persons’ trial.

But lawyer for Air Marshal Amosu, Chief Bolaji Ayorinde (SAN), while opposing the commencement of  trial, imformed the court that the prosecution failed to tell the court that it was yet to obey court’s order as regards the bail conditions of the accused persons.

Ayorinde said the prosecution left out the fundamental issue, which is the court admitting the accused to bail.

“As of now, the accused are still in the custody of the commission or prisons’ custody. We have satisfied all the conditions and I expected the prosecution to inform the court,” he said.

The presiding judge, Justice Mohammed Idris adjourned the matter till September 12 and 13.

In one of the counts of the charge, the accused persons were alleged to have converted the sum of N21,467,634,707.43 billion, property of the Nigerian Air Force to their personal use.

They were also alleged to have between May 5, 2014 and 4 May 4, 2015 in Lagos, indirectly converted the sum of N5, 291, 306, 950.28 Billion, property of the Nigeria Air Force to their personal  use.

Amosu, Adgun and Olugbenga, were also  alleged to have between July 17, and September 16, 2014, used the British Pounds Sterling equivalent of sum of N663, 443,291 million, removed from the accounts of the Nigerian Air Force to purchase for themselves two properties situated at 50-52 Tenterden Grove, London (NW41TH) and 93B Shirehall Park, London NW4 2QU, United Kingdom.

The EFCC further alleged that  Amosu and his co-accused had  between March 3, 2014 and March 12, 2015, used the sum of N202, 920, 200 million, which they removed from the accounts of the Nigeria Air Force, to purchase for themselves a property situated at 1, River Street, Wuse II Abuja.

Air Marshal Amosu and the two Air Force Officers were also alleged to have between March 6 and April 30, 2015, used the sum of N428, 139, 539 million, which they jointly removed from the accounts of the Nigerian Air Force, to renovate and purchase medical equipment for their hospital, Solomon HealthCare Limited, located at 24, Adeniyi Jones Street, Ikeja Lagos.

Air Marshal Amosu and Air Vice Marshal Adigun were also alleged to have between January 8, and April13, 2015, used the sum of N1,701,400,570 billion, removed from the accounts of the Nigerian Air Force to purchase for themselves a property situated at Agobogba Street, Parkview, Ikoyi Lagos.

The offences according to the EFCC  prosecutor, Oyedepo, are contrary to sections 18(a) of the Money Laundering (Prohibition) (Amendment) Act, 2012, and punishable under Section 15(3) of the same Act.

All the accused persons had pleaded not guilty,  and consequently, the prosecutor, Rotimi Oyedepo, urged court for accelerated hearing, and also applied that the accused persons be remanded in prison pending the determination of the charge.

Justice Idris had granted them bail of N500 million with two sureties in the same like sum.

“The sureties must be property owners within the jurisdiction of the court, and title documents of the properties must be submitted to the court’s Registrar, which must be verified by the EFCC,” the Judge ruled.

Justice Idris ordered that the sureties must swear to affidavit of means which must be verified by the EFCC.

The judge also other all the accused persons to submit the international passports with the court’s Deputy  Chief Registrar (DCR).