A former Managing Director of the Aeronautical Engineering and Technical Services Ltd told the Federal High Court, Abuja, on Monday that monies paid into his account by a contractor were refunds and not bribes or kickbacks.
Tony Omenyi, a retired Air Vice-Marshall, is standing trial for allegedly receiving over N136 million kickback from Syrius Technologies and Sky Experts Ltd., engaged by the Nigerian Air Force.
Omenyi, who was testifying as the second defence witness, told court that he never at any time received a bribe and that all the monies were refunds of expenditures he had carried out.
Omenyi, who was led in evidence by his counsel, Gordy Uche (SAN), said that the monies paid into his account were refunds for procurements he had made for one Theresa Idu, the owner of Syrius Technologies.
He said: “Whenever she got any contract, she was mostly out of the country so she will call me to pay for something and I will.
“One of the contracts included bringing in eight Ukrainian engineers to fix a helicopter for NAF.
“Each of the engineers was paid $6,000. So on Madam Theresa’s plea, I sourced $48,000 on three different occasions for their salaries.
“On another occasion, British Airways brought spare parts for her and offloaded in Abuja rather than Port Harcourt. I cleared them and rented six trucks to take them to Port Harcourt.
“On another occasion, a new chief of air staff had reconciled her accounts and agreed to pay her in excess of N556 million on the condition that she brought in spare parts that she had stockpiled in Dubai.
“She needed $350,000 to bring in the spare parts on two Russian cargo planes and I sourced this money for her.”
The retired AVM also told the court that on two other occasions Idu asked him to help her refuel two Russian planes that brought spare parts for her to Nigeria and he obliged her.
He further told court that he made his money from real estate and several other businesses he was doing on the sidelines of his job.
He said: “I have always done business on the side even from when I was a young officer. I buy and sell lands and houses and I buy dollars when it is low and sell when the prices go up.
“I was into cement distribution business and my personal savings are my sources of income.”
He also told the court that he got to know the contractors when he was Director, Aircraft Engineering of NAF.
He said: “I know Syrius Technologies as a Ukranian-based company, owed by a Nigerian, Theresa Idu. I got to know the company as director, aircraft engineering. Syrius Tech was awarded some contracts by NAF.”
He, however, told the court that he was never a signatory to any of the contracts awarded by NAF to any of the contractors and that he never personally awarded contracts to any of the contractors.
He said: “When a unit requires parts, it writes to its officer commanding at the headquarters and the chief of air staff will refer it to the appropriate unit. If it’s spare parts, it will be referred to the aircraft engineering branch.
“The chief of aircraft engineering will instruct the director in his branch to source for quotations which are analysed.
“There is a procurement planning committee which the chief of air staff heads. The members are the directors of finance, budget, works, legal services and the chairman, project implementing team.
“They are the ones who look at quotations and analysis sent from engineering branch and then award the contracts and they are at liberty to award the contract to whoever they choose.”
The trial judge, Justice Nnamdi Dimgba, adjourned the matter until June 26 for cross-examination of the defence witness.
Omenyi is standing trial on a three-count charge bordering on abuse of office and money laundering to the tune of N136 million, charges he pleaded not guilty to.
The EFCC had told the court that the investigation of Omenyi was triggered by a letter from the Office of the National Security Adviser dated December 9, 2015, alleging that the defendant was operating suspicious accounts.