25th June, 2019
Justice Nnamdi Dimgba of a Federal High Court, Abuja has adjourned the trial of a former Chief of Air Staff, Air Vice Marshal Mohammed Umar Dikko to October 2, 3 and 4, 2019 following the introduction of a new defence counsel, Onyeachi Ikpeazu, SAN.
Dikko is being prosecuted by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, EFCC, on a seven-count charge bordering on money laundering and procurement fraud to the tune of N9.7 billion.
A prosecution witness, Hammadama Bello, an investigator with the EFCC had on March 28, 2019 testified as to how a case of alleged money laundering was built against him following the findings of the investigating team that probed properties traced to him.
Among other things, Bello had told the court that Dikko would have to be Chief of Air Staff for 250 years to afford the properties linked to him, thus propping up the properties as proceeds of suspected illegal activities. It was also alleged that he fraudulently withdrew N500 million from the Nigeria Air Force, NAF account to buy a four-bedroom duplex at Road 3B, Street 2, in Mabushi Ministers Hill, Abuja. He was also alleged to have taken N250 million from the NAF’s coffers to buy a property at No. 14, Audu Bako Way, GRA, Kano State in 2011.
The trial judge had fixed today, June 25, 2019 for the defence to cross-examine Bello, but Ikpeazu, who was appearing for the Dikko for the first time, pleaded with the court for some time.
“I am constrained to plead with my lord, and my learned counsel, to seek for an adjournment and to be obliged with the certified true copies of the court’s proceedings,” he said.
He further prayed the court to give him more time to go through the case file as he was just notified of the matter two days back after he came back from his mother-in-law’s burial.
“Usually, I don’t waste time in my cross-examination, and I don’t make unnecessary applications,” he added.
Justice Dimgba, after listening to Ikpeazu, expressed the resolve of the court to “begin the cross-examination tomorrow”, stressing that “we all know I have to protect my seat and the perception of the audience.”
Counsel for the EFCC, Sylvanus Tahir, however, raised no objections to the application of the defence, noting that, “the defendant usually goes and comes back whenever granted permission to do so”.
Consequently, Justice Dimgba granted the adjournment, and obliged the defendant his international passport, which must be returned 24 hours before the next adjourned date.