Court Frees Ex-chief of Air Staff, Amosun, Others Of Alleged N21bn Fraud

Air Marshal Amosun & AVM Adigun

Justice Chukwujekwu Aneke of a Lagos Federal High Court, today, dismissed the charge of N21, 467, 634,707.43 billion, made against a former Nigeria Chief of Air Staff, Air Marshal Adesola Amosun Nunayon (Rtd) and two others, by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC).

The two officer of Air Force set free by the court alongside Air Marshal Amosu are: Air Vice Marshal Jacob Bola Adigun (RTD) and Air Commodore Gbadebo Owodunni Olugbenga.

In dismissing the charges, Justice Aneke held that the EFCC lacks power to investigate the serving of of the Nigerian Army. 

The judge based his ruling on the appeal Court judgment in the case of Brigade-General Jafaru Vs the chairman of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission EFCC, where Appeal Court held that a serving officer of a Nigerian Armed forces can not be investigated, because the military have Marshall Court to try their officers. 

Justice Aneke held that the three freemen were still in service when the charges were filed against them.

The EFCC had charged the three officers of conspiring amongst themselves to convert the total sum of N21, 467, 634, 707. 43 billion, property of the Nigerian Air Force, Which the anti graft agency said was criminal breach of trust, and is an offence contrary to section 18(a) of the Money Laundering ( Prohibition) Act, 2011 (as amended) and punishable under section 15(3) of the same Act.

The EFCC first arraigned the defendants before Justice Mohammed Idris.

Trial had begun but upon the elevation of the trial Judge, Justice Idris, to the Appeal court and the case was reassigned to Aneke in 2018, on an amended 13-count charge bordering on conspiracy, criminal breach of trust and money laundering.

They pleaded not guilty to the charges and were granted bails.

On June 1, 2023, the first defence counsel, Chief Bolaji Ayorinde (SAN) filed a notice of preliminary objection and an affidavit of six paragraphs, challenging the jurisdiction of the court and urging the court to quash the amended charge.

The defence lawyers argued that the grounds upon which their clients were charged took place in Abuja, and so, the court lacked the requisite territorial jurisdiction to commence trial of the defendants, citing the supreme court’s decision in the case of Dele Belgore and others.

The lawyers also argued that the first defendant was at all times material to the trial, a serving officer of the armed forces, who is subject to the trial by a court martial.

Besides, he had argued that section 16 and 18(a) of the money laundering Act 2011, (as amended), did not create the offence of criminal breach of trust for which the defendants were charged.