Former Director of Finance and Accounts at the Nigerian Air Force, NAF, Air Commodore Salisu Abdullahi Yushau, retd, on Tuesday, told the Federal High Court in Abuja that the erstwhile Chief of Defence Staff, Air Chief Marshal Alex Badeh, had a particular officer whose duty was to monthly convert the sum of N558.2million to dollars.
Yushua, who is the star witness of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, EFCC, which is prosecuting Badeh over allegation that he siphoned about N3.9billion from NAF account within 2013, told the court that the dollar equivalent of the N558.2m was usually handed over to the defendant at his official residence at Niger Barracks in Abuja.
The witness said the money was deducted from monthly salary allocation for NAF officials. Even though Yushua earlier informed the court that all the past Air Chiefs also indulged in such practice, however, he said that upon his assumption of office, Badeh, detailed one Group Captain Sini to handle the dollar conversion. He said that Badeh subsequently influenced the redeployment of Group Capt. Sini to the Finance and Accounts Unit.
“The Chief later asked me to post Group Capt. Sini to take over the changing of over N558.2m into dollars which he brings to me and I personally take the dollar equivalent to him (Badeh).
“My Command Finance Officers have all the records of all the money I gave to Chief Badeh.
“While I was in custody of the EFCC my finance officers where also invited and they gave the records of all the properties procured for the defendant”, the witness stated.
Meantime, while being cross-examined by Badeh’s lawyer, Chief Akinolu Olujumi, SAN, the witness said he never told the EFCC that the defendant used N90m to furnish a mansion he bought for his son, Alex Badeh Jnr.
“In EFCC, I was never asked how much was used to furnish Alex Badeh Jnr’s house. It was in the court that I first mentioned the issue of the N90m. It is however in the record of the Nigerian Air Force that the money was paid”, he added.
Yushua also denied allegation that he was coerced by operatives of the EFCC to implicate the former Defence Chief.
“All the statements I made were answers to questions from the EFCC. But the statements were mine and were voluntarily made”, he insisted, saying the N558.2m was left over from funds meant for the payment of salaries.
More so, the witness told the court that prior to his appointment as the CDS, Badeh, hitherto held sway as the officer in charge of budget office of the NAF.
He said: “The responsibility of budgeting for the NAF was under the Chief of Policy and Plans and the 1st defendant was in charge of that office from August 2010 to sometime in 2012. That was during the time of Air Marshal M.D. Umar.
“Budget office of NAF was not under the Director of Finance and Account when I was there. So I did not know what was going on in respect to budgeting.
“It was the deputy director budget that was in charge of preparing NAF budget, but I only make input just like other directorates.
“At the end of every month we retire all the allocations to the Accountant General and Auditor General of the federation. It was usually carried out by Pay and Accounting group.
“It consists of the allocation received and allocations to commands and units. Each command and direct reporting units make their own retirement of funds released to them. Funds were released to headquarters of NAF Abuja, not to the Director of Finance and Account.
“However, allocations were made to my directorate every month. When allocations are made to all NAF formations, the money is disbursed to all the units. My deputy director of finance was in charge of our own allocation. If there is any need for fund within the directorate, he writes to me and I approve, then he goes to NAF headquarters account and collect the money from our own vote.
“After that, he makes his retirement to the office of Command Finance Officer at the headquarters of NAF. It is the duty of the Command Finance Office at the headquarters of NAF to render returns of all money released to the units.
“I was the accounting officer for the directorate that is why I have to give approval first. At the end of every month all other formations of NAF also render account of funds paid to them by their respective accounting officers”.
Meanwhile, Justice Okon Abang has adjourned further cross-examination of the witness till April 19.