Mohammed Dikko Umar, a former Chief of Air staff has been acquitted of six out of seven fraud charges filed against him by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC).
Umar was first arraigned in 2016 afer the anti-graft agency accused him of being involved in money laundering and procurement fraud to the tune of about N9.7 billion, while he was in office between 2010 and 2012.
Justice Nnamdi Dimg alt=’Former Chief of Air Staff, Mohammed Dikko Umar acquitted of six out of seven fraud charges ‘ class=’img-responsive text-center’ style=’margin: auto;’ba of the federal high court in Abuja who presided over the case, struck out 6 of the charges on grounds of EFCC failing to establish a prima facie case that would warrant the accused person to open his defence.
Dimg alt=’Former Chief of Air Staff, Mohammed Dikko Umar acquitted of six out of seven fraud charges ‘ class=’img-responsive text-center’ style=’margin: auto;’ba held that the charges were based on speculation, suspicion and assumptions. He however stated that Umar has a case to answer on count seven wherein he was accused of transferring N66 million from the official bank account of the Nigerian air force (NAF) domiciled in Stanbic IBTC bank to his lawyer, for the renovation of his property in Asokoro, Abuja.
The Judge said;
“Asking the defendant to open his defence on them will be tantamount to asking the defendant to establish his innocence, or to prove a negative.
“This would amount again to a judicial displacement of the constitutional presumption of innocence which ensures to his benefit.
“Having reviewed the evidence adduced as relates to this count, I am of the view that there is a ground for proceeding with a defence in relation to it,” the judge said.
“There is evidence led, as shown in Exhibit AMD15, that indeed such a transfer of funds was done. And the transfer was done around March 2012 at a time when the defendant was in charge at the NAF as the chief of air staff.
“Evidence had been led that the property in question at Asokoro had been purchased by the defendant (albeit through the PW1 and by proxy), and for his own personal use.
“There was no evidence or suggestion that the property was an official property or that it belonged to the NAF or was being purchased for the NAF.
“No evidence was also led that the property was being used by the defendant for the discharge of any official business of the NAF.
“If the property was purchased as a private or personal property, though the defendant was the chief of air staff, how could funds then be transferred from the bank account of the NAF to the private solicitor engaged by PW1 on behalf of the defendant for the renovation or improvement of the property purchased by or for the defendant for his personal and not official capacity?
“The circumstances surrounding this transfer of funds raise questions bordering on breach of trust and abuse of office. An explanation is needed in the context of defence.
“In the light of all the above, I hold that the no-case submission of the defendant succeeds in part and fails also in part.
“I uphold the no-case submission in relation to counts one, two, three, four, five and six. I hereby discharge and acquit the defendant in relation to these counts.
“I refuse and dismiss the no-case submission in relation to count seven. I hereby direct the defendant to open his defence in relation to this count.”
The former Chief of Air Staff is expected to open his defence on April 28 and 29.