Retired Air Marshal Mohammed Umar, who had been accused of embezzling N66 million from the Nigerian Air Force’s bank account, was eventually freed and acquitted of all charges by a Federal High Court in Abuja.
There was no proof that Umar was involved in the transfer of the monies for the repair of his private residence in Abuja, according to Justice Nnamdi Dimgba.
Six of the seven allegations filed against Umar by the Economic and Financial Crime Commission were acquitted by a court on February 23, 2021, but the seventh charge, which he was ordered to appear in court to face, was not.
Umar was accused by the anti-graft agency of transferring N66 million from the NAF Operations Account at UBA Plc to Capital Law Office’s IBTC Account no: 9202077424 in Abuja at some point in March 2012 for the renovation and improvement of house No. 1853 Deng Xiao Ping Street, Off Mahathir Mohammed Street, Asokoro Extension Abuja.
An offence under Section 15(2) (b) of the Money Laundering (Prohibition) Act, 2011 (as amended), as well as Section 15(3) of the same Act, was alleged by the EFCC to have occurred.
“However, on the remaining seventh charge, Justice Dimgba stated that “reasonable questions exist in the prosecution’s evidence as set out in the body of this decision,” and hence AVM Umar should not be convicted.
According to the law, I am obligated to clarify any doubts in favour of the defence and I do so.”
It was his decision to discharge and acquit him that drove him to write, “In the ultimate analysis, I find the defendant innocent on the only count,”
If Umar fails to return the N57 million found to have been moved from the Nigerian Air Force’s (NAF) account for the refurbishment of his residence within seven working days, he would have it “permanently forfeited to the Federal Government of Nigeria as tainted asset.”
Keeping this advantage from him “violates good conscience and in breach of the equitable norms of the Law of Restitution,” the judge stated.