From Godwin Tsa, Abuja
FORMER Chief of Defence Staff, Air Chief Marshal Alex Badeh (retd), was yesterday arraigned before a Federal High Court in Abuja on a 10-count charge of corruption and criminal breach of trust by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission [EFCC].
Although the former Chief of Defence Staff (CDS) pleaded not guilty to all the charges and expressed his willingness to defend himself, Justice Okon Abang ordered his remand in Kuje Prisons pending the hearing and determination of his bail application.
Meanwhile, the court yesterday struck out Badeh’s bail application on grounds that it was premature as it was filed before his arraignment.
The judge held that the bail application having been filed before the accused person was arraigned, robbed his court of the requisite jurisdiction to hear it.
Justice Abang said he can only hear a bail application that has been filed after the arraignment of an accused person and not the other way round.
It was Badeh’s counsel, Samuel Zibiri (SAN), who drew the attention of the court to a pending bail application which he said was filed before his client was arraigned.
After striking out the application, the court ordered that a fresh bail application be filed and to be argued on Thursday, March 10.
Justice Abang fixed March 14 for proper trial which he said would hold daily in line with the court’s practice direction.
He warned that his court will not entertain unnecessary applications for adjournments from any of the parties.
Badeh was arraigned along-side his company, Rtytebuilders Technologies Limited.
Earlier, the prosecution counsel, M.S. Abubakar, urged the court to order that the charges be read to the accused person in the dock.
The charge, bordering on criminal breach of trust and corruption,dated February 26, 2016 and endorsed by Aliyu Yusuf, Deputy Director, Legal, EFCC, accused the former CDS of unlawfully using funds meant for the Nigerian Air Force (NAF) to purchase landed properties in choice areas in Abuja, between January and December 2013, while serving as Chief of Air Staff.
In the charge, filed at the Registry of the court by the EFCC, the commission alleged that Badeh, while serving as Chief of Air Staff and Iyalikam Nig. Ltd, between January and December 2013 did use dollar equipment of N1.1 billion removed from the accounts of the Air Force to purchase for themselves a mansion at Maitama, Abuja.
According to the agency, the accused person “reasonably ought to have known that the said funds formed part of the proceeds of unlawful activity (to wit) criminal breach of trust and corruption.
The offence, it said contradics Section 15 (2) (d) of money Laundering (Prohibition) Act, 2011 (as amended) and punishable under Section 15 (3) of the same Act.
Badeh and his company were also accused of removing from the accounts of the NAF, and did use dollar equivalent of N650million to purchase a commercial plot at plot 1386, Oda crescent Cadastral zone Ao7 Wuse ll, Abuja.
The offence, the EFCC said is contrary to Section 15 (2) (d) of Money Laundering (Prohibition) Act, 2011 (as amended) and punishable under Section 15 (3) of the same Act.
The defendants were said to have between March 28 and December 2013, in Abuja did use an aggregate sum of N878,362,732.94 to remove from NAF accounts and paid into account of Rytebuilders Technologies Ltd with Zenith Bank Plc for construction of a shopping mall in plot 1386, Cadastral zone.
• No money found in my house – ex-CDS
Meanwhile, Badeh yesterday denied reports alleging that one million dollars was recovered from his Abuja residence by the EFCC.
In a statement signed by his counsel, Mr. Samuel Zibiri (SAN), the former CDS described the report (not in Daily Sun) as false and malicious. He challenged the EFCC to prove the allegation. He described himself as a law-abiding citizen and said he would defend himself in accordance with the law.
The statement reads in part: “Our attention has been drawn to the publication in some dailies to the effect that the sum of $1,000,000 (One million US dollars) cash was recovered in the house of Air Chief Marshal Alex Badeh (retd). The said publication is not only malicious, but wicked. It is totally false and smacks of media campaign of calumny against the person of Alex Badeh.
“The 10-count charge against our client, along with the proof of evidence in the Federal High Court are public documents and can be accessed by the general public. There is no such allegation and we challenge the faceless EFCC official to substantiate his claim.”