former Chief of Administration, Nigerian Air Force (NAF) headquarters, Air Vice Marshal Mohammed Alkali Mamu (retd), on Thursday, told a high court of the Federal Capital Territory (FCT), sitting at Maitama, Abuja, that he agreed to refund $300,000 to the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) after he was threatened by the commission that he and his two daughters would be arrested and detained.
Mamu stated this while he continuing his evidence-in-chief as first defence witness (DW1) in his ongoing trial, adding that he made the concession as a responsible father.
The retired air force officer is being arraigned by EFCC on a three-count charge bordering on bribery. He was alleged to have collected a cash gift of N5.9 million for the purchase of a Range Rover Evoque.
He was also alleged to have received two vehicles, Ford Expedition SUV and Jaguar XF Saloon valued at N15 million and N12 million respectively from Societe D’ Equipments Internationaux Nigeria Limited.
Mamu told the court that he was the Chief of Administration at NAF headquarters when his name was included among those indicted by the presidential committee investigating procurement of arms for Nigerian Armed Forces.
He said by January 2016, EFCC sealed off Capital Hub at Mabushi, Abuja, thinking that the plaza belonged to him, adding that the shop of his daughter, Hadiza Mamu, in the plaza was also sealed off by the anti-graft agency, barely a month after she got married on December 19, 2015.
According to him, the commission also froze the account of Kalli Fertilizer Nigeria Limited, where his daughter was a director.
He further informed that on February 2, 2016, he was invited by EFCC, which he honoured and reported to the Special Task Force (STF) 1, headed by Mr Ibrahim Sharu.
“He told me that I was invited in connection with payment of $300,000 made to Kalli Fertilizer by Societe D’ Equipments Internationaux Nigeria Limited and his mandate was to recover the money for the Federal Government.
“I told him that although the money was paid into Kalli Fertilizer’s account, it was used to settle bills incurred on behalf of Societe D’ Equipments Internationaux Nigeria Limited,” Mamu told the court and made reference to Exhibits S and T before the court.
The defendant stated that despite his explanation, “I was threatened with arrest, detention and also the arrest and detention of my two daughters, Fatima and Hadiza, who are directors of Kalli Fertilizer.”
According to him, “in view of the threat and as a responsible father, I conceded to refund the money under interrogation with the hope that I will be reimbursed by Himma Abubakar.”
He stated further that the leader of STF 1 later took him to EFCC acting chairman, Ibrahim Magu, adding that when they got to Magu’s office, “he told me that they are after recovery of funds, they are not after individuals and directed Sharu to obtain my statement and let me go home since I have accepted to refund $300,000.”
The DW1 informed the court that he was further taken to meet STF2 headed by Ibrahim Musa, where his interrogation was in question and answer form, adding that the task force also threatened to arrest his daughter.
He disclosed that issues relating to the $300,000, purchase of Ford Expedition, Jaguar, Range Rover Evogue were raised during his interrogation by the STF2.
“I told STF2 that all the issues were bills Societe D’ Equipments Internationaux Nigeria Limited settled either by cash or credit and other expenses incurred on behalf of Societe D’ Equipments Internationaux Nigeria Limited in relation to the prosecution of war against Boko Haram,” he said.
His explanation, according to him, was not listened to by the STF2, adding that the task force also threatened him with detention and that his daughters would be arrested if he refused to concede to bring back the vehicles to EFCC.
“I reluctantly agreed in order to protect my daughters and information related to the transaction between myself and Himma Abubakar because unauthorised disclosure will be injurious to our dear nation, Nigeria,” he said.
He added that he was ordered to return the three cars, adding that on the night of February 2, 2016 he returned the Ford Expedition SUV and Jaguar XF Saloon to EFCC.
He stated that he returned the Range Rover Evogue on February 3, 2016, adding that, “I pleaded with them to let me return the car because it is the only car left in the house. I was then teleguided and tutored on what to write in order to regain the car. I complied and they allowed me to go back home with the car.”
Mamu stated that he incurred and paid a lot of bills on behalf of Himma Abubakar, the Managing Director of Societe D’ Equipments Internationaux Nigeria Limited, in view of the fact that he was not being paid timely by the Office of the National Security Adviser (ONSA).
He said by the time he became the Staff Officer, Training Command in Kaduna, he did account reconciliation with Abubakar, which was documented, signed and witnessed to by Squadron Leader Saleh.
The account reconciliation document was tendered and accepted as Exhibit W as it was not objected by the prosecution counsel, Sylvanus Tahir.
While being led to give further evidence by his counsel, Chief Joseph Daodu, Mamu told the court that the statement he made to the STF1 was not among the statements earlier tendered as exhibits by the prosecution, adding that the issue of $300,000 was properly explained to the task form.
“If that statement was tendered, the issue of $300,000 as gratification will not arise,” he added.
While trying to explain the content of the statement made to STF1, particularly the purpose of the $300,000, Mamu stated that the issues were directly linked with national security imperative.
At this stage, the defence counsel, Joseph Daodu, requested the court to stand down the matter for some minutes, to enable the defence to avail the prosecution with a preview of the evidence to be given by Mamu, in view of its nature to national security.
This was, however, opposed to by the prosecution counsel on the ground that there was nothing against national security in the nature of the evidence, citing Sections 190 and 243 of the Evidence Act.
Responding to this, Daodu said it should be on record that he offered the prosecution the opportunity to have a preview of the evidence to be given by DW1 but by the prosecution counsel’s reference to sections of the law, he rejected the offer.
Having listened to argument and counter argument, Justice Salisu Garba, adjourned the matter till May 19.