Monday, April 19, 2021

Former Nigerian Air Force chief convicted for corruption

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The Court of Appeal in Abuja has reversed the acquittal of former Chief of Administration of the Nigerian Air Force Headquarters, Air Vice Marshal Alkali Mamu (retd), who was accused by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission of receiving gratification from NAF’s contractor.

Justice Salisu Garba of the High Court of the Federal Capital Territory in Maitama, Abuja, had on June 29, 2018 discharged and acquitted Mamu on the grounds that the EFCC failed to prove its case against him.

Mamu, a former Group Managing Director of the Nigerian Air Force ( Holding Company and Air Force Commanding, Training Command, was among senior military officers accused of abusing their positions by the Presidential Committee on the Audit of Defence Equipment Procurement which was mandated to look into contracts awarded for military procurements.

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The anti-corruption agency had accused him, of among others, receiving gratification from a firm, Societe D’ Equipments Internationaux Nigeria Limited, which was said to be executing contracts for the Nigerian Air Force.

Mamu was also accused of receiving a cash gift of $300,000 and the sum of  N5.9m, as balance for the purchase of a Range Rover Evoque, from the firm and its Managing Director, Hima Abubakar.

The defendant also allegedly received Ford Expedition SUV and Jaguar XF Saloon valued at N15m and N12m, respectively, from the firm as gratification.

The Court of Appeal in its judgment delivered on July 15, 2020,  the certified true copy of which was seen by our correspondent on Tuesday, partly reversed the FCT High Court’s judgment by sentencing Mamu to two years’ imprisonment with an option of N500,000 fine.

While he was convicted of Count 2, he was discharged and acquitted in respect of Counts 1, 3 and 4.

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The convict paid the N500,000 option of fine on the same day the judgment was delivered.

Contrary to the FCT High Court’s judgment, the Court of Appeal convicted him of “corruptly” accepting a gift of $300,000, through Kalli Fertilizer Company (a firm owned by his daughters) from Himma Abubakar, owner of Societe D’ Equipment International Nig. Ltd (SEI Nig Ltd), a company engaged to supply military equipment to NAF, under Mamu’s supervision.

In the lead judgment delivered by Justice Yargata Nimpar, the Court of Appeal admitted the convict’s confessional statement which was rejected by the trial, holding that “the trial court failed in its duty by applying principles of law in a flawed manner, leading to the striking out of the confessional statement.”

Justice Nimpar added that there was no legal basis for the rejection of the statement by the trial judge.

“Considering the evidence before the court, there was corroboration for the confessional statement particularly, the SEI Ltd’s payment for the cars, to the fertilizer company in which his (Mamu’s) daughters are directors and bank documents,” she ruled.

Justice Nimpar added, “I find the confessional statement good to be evaluated for weight. I therefore disagree with the trial judge and find that the confessional statement was properly in evidence and must be evaluated along other pieces of evidence before the court.

“The sum of $300,000 was not legitimate income from his (Mamu’s) employers. Mr. Himma Abubakar was not respondent’s employer and had no business paying the respondent any sum as appreciation. This is coming at the backdrop of the admission by the respondent that he got more than he was allegedly entitled to.”

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