A star witness in the ongoing trial of former Chief of Air Staff (COAS), Air Vice Marshal Dikko Umar (retd), has concluded his evidence in chief with a revelation that receipts were not issued by the Nigerian Air Force (NAF) in respect of the alleged N558, 200 million monthly upkeep of the former Chief of Air Staff.
The witness, who is a former NAF’s Director, Finance and Accounts, Air Commodore Salisu Yaushau (rtd), who was being cross-examined by counsel to AVM Dikko Umar, Ibrahim Bawa (SAN) said the payments made to Umar were not captured in NAF’s cash and votes books.
Yaushau had told the court that Air Vice Marshal Dikko Umar had allegedly collected over N13.3 billion spread across two years for office maintenance from Nigerian Airforce treasury.
But under cross- examination, the witness who told Justice Nnamdi Dimgba of the Federal High Court in Abuja that he personally handed the money to the retired Air Force boss, said no receipt was issued in respect of the transaction.
Before yesterday’s proceedings, Yaushau had testified to the effect that NAF was receiving a budget of about N4 billion monthly adding that out of the amount, the actual figure used for payment of salary and allowances was between N2.3 to N2.4 billion, while the balance of about N1.6 billion was made, out of which the sum of N558, 200 million was usually set aside for the upkeep of the Chief of Air Force.
Testifying under cross-examination by the defence team led by Hassan Liman (SAN), the witness had told the court that after the payment of staff salaries from the monthly N4 billion, the ex-COAS, deployed the balance of N1 billion to training and maintenance of NAF assets, fleets and other private projects, which include barrack construction and renovation.
“Out of the N1 billion, funds were disbursed to heads of units and commands for operational cost.
“NAF hospitals in Kaduna, Kano, Jos and Makurdi were equipped from the money. A comprehensive NAF school in Kano was also constructed during Umar’s stay in office.
“Land for the construction of NAF Conference Centre at Kado, Abuja was also acquired during the defendant’s tenure as COAS,” the witness told the court.
When asked by the defence lawyer about the annual audit report of the Air Force which was conducted by the Auditor-General of the Federation, Yaushau disclosed that there were queries but were resolved by Umar.
The witness further revealed that estacodes and allowances of personnel as well as aeronautical repairs in Kaduna were carried out from the funds that accrued to the force.
The defence team had in the course of the trial tendered in evidence, a book, titled, “Manual of Financial Administration of the Armed Forces of Nigeria, 2012”, which provides that receipt be issued on all payments made by any of the forces.
Though the prosecution counsel, Sylvanus Tahir, objected to the admissibility of the book on the grounds that it was not certified as a public document by the relevant authorities, it was admitted in evidence by the court.
Tahir predicated 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 a short ruling, Justice Dimgba agreed with the submissions of the defence counsel that the exhibit was an original copy and therefore needs no certification.
The Judge also ruled that the then Chief of Defence Staff, Air Chief Marshal Oluseye Petirin, authorised the publication of the manual to be used in conjunction with the Federal Government Financial regulations of Government Ministries, Departments and Agencies (MDAs) 2007 and 2009 revered version.
He also agreed with defence counsel that the document sought to be tendered was a subsidiary law and therefore needs no certification.