Mr. Joseph Okpetu, a prosecution witness, has revealed before a Federal High Court in Abuja on Thursday that a sum of N100m was spent on “thanksgiving” projects to mark the completion of a house belonging to a former Chief of Air Staff, Air Chief Marshal Alex Badeh (retd.).
Accroding to Punch reports, The house, which the witness said was worth N15m as of the time it was completed in 2012, was built in Badeh’s village, Vimtim, in Mubi Local Government Area of Adamawa State.
According to The Punch, the witness said his companies – Havco Nigeria Limited and Kunychun Drilling Service and Vim Plast Nigeria Limited – were jointly and singly engaged to build the house in Vimtim and another N150m worth of mansion in Yola for Badeh.
He said on Thursday that the N100m for the thanksgiving projects was provided by a group called “Mafosamafosa,” described as a “Committee of Friends of Badeh.”
He said part of the N100m was used to renovate the church where the thanksgiving service took place and for the building of a mosque as well as a new skill acquisition centre, all in Vimtim village.
Okpetu is the13th prosecution witness in the ongoing trial of Badeh and a company, Iyalikam Nigeria Limited, on 10 counts of money laundering involving their alleged fraudulent diversion of N3.9bn belonging to the Nigerian Air Force.
The witness, who was fielding questions from the lead prosecuting counsel, Mr. Rotimi Jacobs (SAN), on Thursday, said the N15m worth house for which N100m was provided for its thanksgiving, was later bombed by Boko Haram members in 2014.
He said his company was contracted and paid to build the house between 2008 and 2012, and again paid N50m for its renovation after it was bombed by the insurgents.
According to him, the thanksgiving for the house held in December 2012 and that he was assigned other responsibilities such as booking accommodation for guests and disbursement of funds for expenses relating to the thanksgiving service because his members of staff were on ground in Vimtim after the completion of the project.
In his evidence-in-chief, while being led by Jacobs, the witness said the N100m was paid from “an account” into his company’s account with Guaranty Trust Bank in three instalments of N40m, N30m and N30m.
But under cross-examination by Badeh’s lawyer, Chief Akin Olujinmi (SAN), the witness confirmed the lawyer’s suggestion that the N100m was paid into the company’s account by “Mafosamafosa, which is a committee of friends of the first defendant (Badeh).”
Okpetu said in his evidence-in-chief that part of the N100m was expended on renovation of the church where the thanksgiving service took place.
He said the money was also used to build a new mosque, and a skill acquisition centre in Vimtim village.
According to him, after the thanksgiving service, another part of the money was also used to renovate two additional churches.
He did not give the names of the three churches renovated with the money.
Okpetu said, “The construction of the house was done between 2008 and 2012. Between 2008 and 2011, it was not finished, it was still a carcass. The features and painting were done in 2012.
“After the construction of the house, thanksgiving service was done and we did renovation of the church where the thanksgiving took place.
“Because my company was on ground, we were given responsibility of providing canopies and chairs. I can’t remember how much I was paid for the renovation of the church. But Air Commodore Yishau paid the money. The money was paid in naira into my company’s GTB account. I cannot remember the actual figure spent on the renovation of the church because the money for accommodation of guest was also part of it.”
When pressed further by the prosecuting counsel, the witness said, “The total money (for the renovation of the church) was between N5m to N8m.
“I cannot really tell the amount spent on accommodation of guests because most of them were handled by my staff. The thanksgiving took place in December 2012. We built a mosque, we renovated the church and a civic centre for skill acquisition, and renovated another two churches. The projects cost N100m. I was paid in three instalments of N40m, N30m and N30m.”
When Jacobs suggested to him that the renovation of the church where the thanksgiving took place gulped N21m, the witness said, he could not remember “unless I check the record.”
Okpetu confirmed that the house was bombed by Boko Haram members in 2014, and that N50m was paid into his company’s account for the renovation of the house.
The witness added that while waiting for the insurgency to end so that his company could commence the renovation of the bombed house, he received instruction to spend the money on other projects.
He said, “About N14m to N15m was used to build the house of the Officer-in-Charge of the Joint Task Force in Mubi Local Government Area of Adamawa State.
“The Director of Finance (Yishau) sent the drawing and said Air Chief Marshal Alex Badeh said I should use part of the N50m to build the house of the Officer-in-Charge and that the money would be refunded when we were ready to move to site.
“There was no any award of contract from the Army for the construction of the house of the Officer-in-Charge.”
Although, the witness is a prosecution witness, he said he was the Managing Director of Vim Plast Nigeria Limited, which Badeh’s two sons, Kamutofa and Alex (Jnr.), are major shareholders.
He also admitted that the company was awarded several contracts in different parts of the country by the Nigerian Air Force while Badeh was the Chief of Air Staff.
He said, “The share structure of Vim Plast was four million to Joseph Okpetu (myself), three million to Alex Badeh (Jnr.), three million to Kamtufa Badeh.
“It was later changed in 2015 to six million to Joseph Okpetu, three million to Kamtufa Badeh, 500,000 to Victoria Okpetu, and 500,000 also to Architect Dan Williams.
“Kamtufa said his father gave him the house as his contribution to the company.”
The witness is also the Managing Director of two other companies, Havco Nigeria Limited and Kunychun Drilling Service, which had also executed a number of contracts for the Nigerian Air Force.
The anti-graft agency alleged that Badeh and the second accused (Iyalikam Nigeria Limited) fraudulently removed the sum of N3.97bn from the Nigerian Air Force’s account and used the funds to buy and develop landed assets in Abuja for himself and two sons between January and December 2013.
Fielding questions about Iyalikam Nigeria Limited on Thursday, Okpetu said he had once received payment for a job done on a farm owned by Badeh.
The witness said he negotiated for the job with Badeh’s wife, Mary, and got paid N30m through Iyalikam’s account.
Under cross-examination by Olujinmi, the witness confirmed that it was Yishau, who gave the drawing of the N150m worth of property in Yola to him.
The trial was adjourned till January 25 and 26 for further cross-examination of the witness.