Court jails ex-Air Force chief 7 years over arms deal
Orders forfeiture of N60 million to government
Justice Nnamdi Dimgba of the Federal High Court, Abuja has sentenced Air Vice Marshall Tony Omenyi (rtd) to a 21-year jail term.
He was found guilty on the amended three-count charge brought against him by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) on money laundering involving a Nigerian Air Force (NAF) arms contract.
According to the court, the erstwhile Managing Director of Aeronautical and Engineering and Technical Services (AETS) is to serve seven years concurrently on each count.
He was arraigned by the anti-graft agency on November 11, 2016 along with his company, Huzee Nigeria Limited, for abuse of office and money laundering to the tune of N136 million.
He had pleaded not guilty to the charges, thereby setting the stage for his trial.
After calling five prosecution witnesses and tendering over 20 documents, the EFCC closed its case on April 17, 2018.
Delivering judgment yesterday, the trial judge stated that the argument of the defence was not credible.
Justice Dimgba said: “Having fully reflected on the above defence as well as evaluated the evidence before me, as a matter of fact, I agree with prosecution that the defence is a sham.
“What motivation does the defendant have of spending his own personal funds towards the execution of contracts awarded by the Nigerian Air Force on behalf of the contractor? When the proper thing to do is get the Nigeria Air Force to expend the funds on behalf of the contractor to ensure the project is done.
“One indisputable thing is that, by the state of law and the entire circumstances of the case, the money received by the defendant as played out in counts one, two and three, by themselves raised criminal abilities against the defendants. I do not believe that the explanations given by the defence to the charges are credible.”
The judge added: “Any way it is looked at, either as a direct bribe or kickback, or as a share of revenue or profits with a business partner, so long as the source of the funds is from the Nigerian Air Force and linked to the execution of contracts of Nigerian Air Force, I am of the view that the monies as contained in counts one to three are rooted in corruption.”
He therefore ordered the company “being a corporate entity” to forfeit the sum of N60 million in the custody of the EFCC to government.
“I further order that the second defendant be compulsory wound up by the Federal Government,” Dimgba added.
Also yesterday, Justice Mojisola Olatoregun of the Federal High Court, Ikoyi, Lagos adjourned till March 13 and 14, 2019 for further hearing in the application seeking the final forfeiture of $8.4 million and N7.4 billion linked to Dame Patience Jonathan.
A statement by EFCC’s acting spokesman, Tony Orilade, said the wife of former President Goodluck Jonathan is facing trial alongside a number of companies. The funds had been on interim forfeiture since April 20, 2018 following an ex-parte application filed by the commission.
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