Following his arrest and subsequent interrogation by operatives of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, EFCC, the immediate past Director of Finance and Budget of the Nigerian Air Force, Air Commodore O. O. Gbadebo, has refunded N84 million to the coffers of the Federal Government.
Punch reports that a reliable source in the EFCC said that investigations showed that the money was diverted from the account of the Air Force.
The source said the money was part of the money budgeted for the procurement of weapons.
The anti-graft agency had last week, seized houses belonging to Gbadebo; the immediate past Chief of Air Staff, Air Marshal Adesola Amosu (retd.); and the Chief of Accounts and Budgeting of the Nigerian Air Force, Air Vice Marshal J.B. Adigun, all worth about N5bn.
The source revealed that after sealing off the houses, the EFCC continued to trace the money with a view to recovering the sums.
The source added, “After we sealed some properties last week, we continued to grill the three officers. Gbadebo finally confessed to diverting N84m into his company account. The money was swiftly recovered.
“We have also seized a large fish processing company belonging to Adigun. He also manufactures fish feeds, which he sells to end users.”
The source also shed more light on reports that the EFCC recovered $1m from Amosu’s Badagry home when it was searched.
“There have been reports that $1m was recovered from a soak away in Amosu’s Badagry home. This is not true.
“The actual amount recovered was about $117,000 and it was kept in a safe in the house and not in a soak away. The money is currently in our exhibit room. We also recovered N200, 000 in cash from the house.”
Explaining the modus operandi of the suspects, the EFCC detective explained that the suspects usually used their wives to carry out the shady deals.
He said before transferring money, the Air Force officers would use third parties to set up companies and bank accounts, to which their wives would be signatories.
It was learnt that the military officers would then make phantom transactions and transfer money into the bank accounts of the companies while their wives would take possession of the sums.
“Amosu’s wife, Omolara, was arrested when she came to see her husband in detention. She cooperated with us and we have also recovered money from the company. Adigun’s wife, Helen, also did the same.
“They have both been released,” the source stated.
About 11 Air Force officers are currently under investigation by the commission
The source said Adigun had been released by the EFCC but did not say whether the NAF chief was released on bail or if he had returned any money to the anti-graft agency.
However, the spokesman for the EFCC, Mr. Wilson Uwujaren, was unable to confirm the recoveries when contacted on the telephone on Sunday.
“The investigation into the arms scandal is still ongoing and I am not able to comment on specific recoveries,” he said.
Amosu and 10 senior officers are being probed by the EFCC as part of investigations into the $2.1bn arms scam, especially in relation to the 10 contracts of the NAF, said to be worth $930,500,690.00.
Last week, the immediate past Chief of Defence Staff, Air Chief Marshal Alex Badeh (retd.), was detained by the anti-graft agency.
Both Badeh and Amosu are answering questions on the non-specification of procurement costs, absence of contract agreements, award of contracts beyond authorised thresholds, transfer of public funds for unidentified purposes and general non-adherence to provisions of the Public Procurement Act.
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