The Court of Appeal, Abuja on Thursday overturned the acquittal of a former Chief of Air Staff (COAS), Mohammed Umar over his alleged diversion of N4.8 billion from the account of the Nigerian Air Force (NAF) which he used to acquire property in choice areas of Abuja and other places.
Elfrieda Williams–Dawodu who led the three-member panel of the court ordered Mr Umar to return for trial at the Federal High Court in Abuja.
The court ordered Mr Umar to proceed to enter his defence to five charges – Counts 1, 2, 3, 5 and 6 with exception to Count 4 of which he was previously acquitted by the trial court.
It reversed the trial judge’s decision on five of the six charges he dismissed in February 2021. The Appeal Court held that the Economic Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) led evidence that sufficiently linked Mr Umar to the five charges to warrant directing him to open his defence.
The EFCC also filed an appeal against the 17 March judgement of the court which handed down an acquittal to Mr Umar on Count 7, the only charge on which a full trial was conducted. The appeal has yet to come up for hearing at the Court of Appeal in Abuja.
EFCC arraigned Mr Umar in 2016 on seven charges of money laundering, accusing him of diverting about N4.8 billion from account of Nigerian Air Force (NAF) during his time as the Chief of Air Staff between 2010 and 2012.
After the prosecution closed its case with 12 witnesses, Mr Umar filed a no case-submission urging the court to dismiss all the seven counts on the grounds that the evidence led by the prosecution did not link him to the offences.
The EFCC, through its lawyer, Sylvanus Tahir, opposed the no-case submission and urged the court to direct Mr Umar to proceed to give his defence.