The Economic and Financial Crimes Commission has launched a fresh investigation into the alleged diversion of N4.4bn from the Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency into the accounts of top officers of the Nigerian Air Force.
To this end, the EFCC transfered the immediate past Chief of Defence Staff, Air Chief Marshal Alex Badeh (retd.), and a former Director, Finance and Accounting at NAF, Air Cdre S.A. Yushau, from its Abuja headquarters to Lagos last week.
It will be recalled that as part of efforts to ensure improved security in the Nigerian maritime sector, NIMASA, on August 26, 2013, signed a Memorandum of Understanding with the NAF with a view to providing effective air surveillance and monitoring of the nation’s coastal waters.
As part of the MoU, the Air Force was supposed to carry out aerial surveillance, reconnaissance, search and rescue, tactical airlift, enforcement and provide intelligence reports to NIMASA, which would aid in the fight against piracy, illegal bunkering and pipeline vandalism.
Badeh, who was the Chief of Air Staff at the time, signed on behalf of the NAF, while Mr. Patrick Akpobolokemi, who was the Director-General of NIMASA, signed on behalf of the maritime agency.
In furtherance of the MoU, billions of naira was said to have been transferred from the bank account of NIMASA to the Air Force.
EFCC has, however, alleged that its investigations revealed that the money was diverted to private accounts.
A detective at the EFCC, who did not want his name in print, said, “We brought Badeh and Yushau to Lagos to answer to fresh allegations. The MoU that was signed by Badeh was for NAF aircraft to patrol the creeks to prevent pipeline vandalism and illegal oil bunkering
“As part of the agreement, money was transferred to the Air Force in two tranches – N1.4bn and N3bn – but the money was mostly in dollars. But the money was not used for that purpose.
“Rather, the MoU was a conduit pipe to siphon money from NIMASA to Air Force account and then to companies in which they had interests or their wives were directors or signatories.”