Legal Nigeria

Alleged N1. 03bn Fraud: Court Frees Buhari’s Ally, Air Commodore Mohammed


ABUJA – Justice Inyang Ekwo of a Federal High Court sitting in Abuja on Friday discharged and acquitted an ally of Pres­ident Muhammadu Buhari and member of the Presiden­tial Investigative Committee on Arms Procurement (PI­CAP), Air Commodore Umar Mohammed (rtd) from the $1.03billion money launder­ing charges brought against him by the Federal Govern­ment.

The office of the Attorney General of the Federation had arraigned Mohammed and a company, Easy Jet on a five-count charge marked: FHC/ABJ/CR/145/2016, over allegations of engaging in money laundering and il­legal possession of guns.

In counts one and two, Mohammed and Easy Jet were charged with conspira­cy and laundering $1,030,000.

Mohammed was, in count three, accused of possessing “two pump action with serial number SBSG Magnum 397 and SBGS Interpress No. 09- 1573, without valid licenses.”

He was, in count four and five accused of unlaw­fully possessing “classified/ official documents without lawful authority.”

However, Justice Ekwo, in his judgment on the suit, held that the Federal Gov­ernment could not prove its case against Mohammed and his firm, Easy Jet Inte­grated Services Ltd as re­quired by law.

The court noted that not only did the Federal Govern­ment fail to cross-examine the defence’s sole witness, it also failed to tender the $1,030,000 which formed the subject of counts one and two.

The judge said by failing to cross-examine Moham­med, it implied that the pros­ecution admitted his claim that he did nothing wrong.

He added that the implica­tion of the prosecution’s fail­ure to tender the $1,030,000 was that it has nothing to sustain its allegations in counts one and two.

“Now, if the $1,030,000 of $100 denomination men­tioned in count one was never tendered in court, it suffices to say that there was no offence in the first place.

“Nobody can be held to have conspired to do that which has not been estab­lished.

“The allegation in count two is acceptance of the sum of $1,030,000 of $100 denom­ination, in cash from World­wide consortium PTY Ltd, as payment for flight services without going through a financial institution as re­quired by the Law.

In the same vein, if the sum of ($1,030,000) of $100 denomination mentioned in count one was never ten­dered in court, it suffices ac­cording to the court, to say that there was no offence in the first place.

“It can then be said that the essential ingredient in this case which is the sum of $1,030,000) of $100 denomina­tion was not proved beyond reasonable doubt and the allegation falls for lack of evidence.

“On the whole, I find that the prosecution has failed to prove counts one and two on the charge sheet beyond rea­sonable doubt.

“Therefore, the prosecu­tion has failed to discharge the burden of proof as re­quired by law.