A former Chief of Air Staff, Air Chief Marshal Mohammed Umar (retd.), told a Federal High Court in Abuja on Tuesday that he had commenced talks with the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission to settle the money laundering charges preferred against him out of court.
Umar said this through his lawyer, Mr. Hassan Liman (SAN), before Justice Binta Nyako on Tuesday, when trial was scheduled to commence with the EFCC calling its first witness.
The EFCC had on May 11, 2016, arraigned Umar on seven counts of money laundering.
The prosecution accused him of criminal breach of trust and corruption involving alleged diversion of N7.382bn belonging to the Nigerian Air Force.
It alleged that Umar removed the money from the account of NAF while he was the Chief of Air Staff.
The EFCC alleged that Umar used part of the money to acquire the property at Plot No. 1853, Deng Xiano Ping Street, off Mahathir Mohammed Street, Asokoro Extension, Abuja
The defendant was also accused of using part of the money to purchase a residential asset, including a three-bedroomed duplex, with boys’ quarters at Road 3B, Street 2, Mabushi Ministers Hill, Abuja,
He also allegedly used part of the money to acquire property at 14 Audu Bako Way, GRA, Kano and a three-bedroom duplex with three-room boys’ quarters at No. 8 Kabala Road, Unguwan Rimi, GRA, Kaduna.
He also allegedly used part of the money for the renovation/improvement of House No.1853 Deng Xiao Ping Street, Off Mahathir Mohammed Street, Asokoro Extension, Abuja.
The alleged offences were said to be contrary to Section 15(2)(d) of the Money Laundering Prohibition Act 2011 and punishable under Section 15(3) of the same Act.
Umar pleaded not guilty to all the seven counts when read to him before Justice Nyako.
The judge subsequently granted him bail on self-recognition following an application by his lawyer shortly after the arraignment on May 11.
The case was then adjourned till Tuesday for commencement of trial.
But on Tuesday, Umar’s lawyer, Liman told the trial judge that his client had commenced negotiation with the EFCC for the out-of-court settlement of the case.
He said his client had held meetings with the officials of the EFCC during which discussions were held on the proposal.
He said in attendance at the meetings were his client, Umar and his lawyers on one side, and the head of legal department of the anti-graft agency, head of the task force of the commission, Mr. Ibrahim Musa, and the prosecuting counsel, Mr. Sylvanus Tahir, on the other side.
According to Liman, after the first meeting held on May 31 and the subsequent one on June 3, it was resolved that the defendant should send a formal letter detailing his proposal to the commission.