Badeh’s house paid for in dollars, says principal witness
Former Chief of Defence Staff, Air Chief Marshal Alex Badeh, yesterday concluded the cross-examination of the principal witness of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC), Air Commodore Salisu Abdullahi Yushau.
The witness had denied the authorization of the transfer of N150 million to Engineer Joe’s company, Havco Nigeria limited, the company that constructed one of the houses alleged to have been bought by Badeh in Yola.
He also denied instructing Air Commodore Sinni to make the said financial transactions in two installments for the construction of Badeh’s house in Yola.
According to the witness, the passage of time has made it difficult for him to remember everything that happened when he served as the Director of Finance and Accounts, Nigeria Air Force (NAF).
During cross examination by the counsel to the second defendant (Iyalikam), Sam Ologun-Orisa, Yushau told the court that he never received any instruction from the Board of Iyalikam to acquire any property for it, saying also that he did not at anytime, receive or transfer money on behalf of Iyalikam and that he has no power of attorney to act on behalf of the company.
At the resumed hearing, Counsel to the first defendant (Badeh), Chief Akin Olujimi had continued with the cross-examination of Yushau.
He took him back to one of the property he testified earlier that was bought by the former Chief of Defence Staff, Air Chief Marshal Alex Badeh in Abuja at the rate of N240 million.
The witness, Yushau, had told the court earlier that payment for the house was made in cash in US dollars.
But the Defence Counsel, Chief Akin Olujimi, tried to juxtapose the evidence in chief given in court with the statement Yushau earlier made before the EFCC.
He said: “You said in the evidence before the Court that you paid N240 million, the price for the house. This was not stated in your earlier statement before the EFCC. You also did not tell EFCC that you were the one who told Badeh that the price was N240 million. Did you also tell EFCC that you paid the dollar equivalent for the house? Olujimi asked.
He however responded that it could be difficult to say everything but that he recounted how the property was purchased.
But the Prosecution Counsel, Rotimi Jacobs (SAN), was not comfortable with the cross examination, stressing that the defence counsel was trying to gag his witness.
Not deterred by Jacobs’ argument, Olujimi continued.
“Did you say in the statement that you paid the price in dollars to Ishiaku Rabiu?
Again, Jacobs objected but the Judge suggested that the answer should be yes or no.
“I said clearly that I made the payment. I said yes because this statement is my statement”, Yushau responded.
“Did you in that statement say that you made payment for that house in dollar equivalent? The witness answered in affirmative. “Yes, my Lord”.
He was again asked by Olujimi to read his earlier statement so as to confirm whether it was actually captured therein that he made the payment personally. He however insisted that he did make the statement even though he did not mention it during the evidence in chief.
Going through his statement however, it was not found where he said he made the payment for the house. For Olujimi, the truth has been established. But for Jacobs who has engaged his colleague in a contest of wit, the insinuation was faulty.
Continuing, Olujimi asked the witness what happened between him and one Rabiu.
“You approached him for the purpose of purchasing that house. That house is next to your own house. Rabiu explained to you that the property was rented out, that there was a tenant in it. He later told you that the price was N240 million and he sold it to you at N240 million.”
Again, Jacobs objected, insisting that his colleague was laying trap for his witness but the presiding Judge, Justice Okon Abang, rather advised him to keep records.
At this point, Olujimi put it to the witness that the receipt for the purchase of the house was actually written in his name. This, the witness denied. He told him further that during the entire process of that transaction, Rabiu dealt with him alone and never with Badeh. To this, he accepted but with some clauses.
“I gave him the name of my boss, that he was the one buying the house”, he said at a point.
Olujimi however told the witness that in a statement made by Rabiu before the EFCC, he had noted that he dealt with the witness alone.
“You did not tell him when you were purchasing the house whether it was for you or somebody else”.
But the witness answered that he was yet to read Rabiu’s report but that he remembered telling him the house belonged to his boss.
“The documents that were prepared were accordingly handed over to Barrister Timothy as directed by Badeh”, he stated.
Olujimi therefore asked him if he would like to read Rabiu’s statement aloud but he declined.
On the issue of the documents given to Timothy at the instruction of Badeh, Olujimi asked the witness if he had any copy or photocopy of any of the documents. He said he had none.
Olujimi at this point took him to another property at No 14, Azdope Crescent, off Kumasi Crescent, where he said nothing about how the property was purchased in his statement with EFCC.
He said he was not asked about it.
Olujimi however reminded him that he was the one who looked for and found the house; that he negotiated with the house owner to buy the house.
“You then procured your friend, Hussein Umaru to prepare documents for the purchase of the house”, Olujimi said.
“The correct statement was that when my boss, Badeh asked me to get another house for his son, Kam, I told him about a house a friend wanted to sell and the house was adjacent to that of Alex Badeh Junior.
“He became interested but told me that he did not want to use Rabiu, that was when I suggested he could use Barrister Hussein Umar to deal directly with the Landlord. He did the negotiations, when he told me of the price, I told my boss. Yushau maintained that he did not negotiate for the very house.
At the end of the cross examination, the prosecution counsel, Tayo Olukotun, who held brief for Jacobs as he left midway for the Code of Conduct Tribunal, prayed the court for a short adjournment to enable the prosecution prepare adequately for re-examination of the witness.
Olukotun told the court that the defence spent seven days on cross- examination and as such, it would be difficult to continue immediately without a short break.
The case was consequently adjourned till today.