Appeal Court sentences ex-air force director to jail

The court of appeal sitting in Abuja has sentenced a former chief of administration of the Nigerian Air Force, Mohammed Alkali Mamu, to two years imprisonment for receiving gratification worth $300,000.
In June 2016, the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) had preferred a four-count charge against Mamu for allegedly collecting a cash gift of $300,000 and N5.9 million for the purchase of a Range Rover Evoque.

EFCC also alleged that he received two vehicles, Ford Expedition SUV and Jaguar XF Saloon valued at N15 million and N12 million respectively from Societe D’ Equipment Internationaux Nigeria Limited while facilitating a covert assignment of the office of the national security adviser on the war against terrorism.

On June 29 2018, Salisu Garba, judge of a federal capital territory high court acquitted Mamu of all the charges on the grounds that the prosecution failed to establish a case against the defendant.

Dissatisfied with the decision of the trial court, the anti-graft commission proceeded to the court of appeal.

In a unanimous judgment delivered July 15, 2020, a three-man panel of the appellate court convicted Mamu on one out of the four-count charges brought against him.

Mamu was convicted on count two, in which he was found to have “corruptly” accepted a gift of $300,000, through Kalli Fertilizer Company (a firm owned by his daughters) from Himma Abubakar, owner of Societe D’ Equipment International Nig. Ltd (SEI Nig Ltd), a company engaged to supply military equipment to NAF, under Mamu’s supervision.

He was sentenced to two years in prison. However, Yargata Byenchit Nimpar, who read the lead judgment gave Mamu an option of N500, 000 fine.

According to the judge, “the trial court failed in its duty by applying principles of law in a flawed manner, leading to the striking out of the confessional statement.”

“There was no legal basis for that action. Considering the evidence before the court, there was corroboration for the confessional statement particularly, the SEI Ltd’s payment for the cars, to the fertilizer company in which his (Mamu’s) daughters are directors and bank documents,” Nimpar held.

“I find the confessional statement good to be evaluated for weight. I, therefore, disagree with the trial judge and find that the confessional statement was properly in evidence and must be evaluated along other pieces of evidence before the court.

“The sum of $300,000 was not legitimate income from his (Mamu’s) employers. Mr. Himma Abubakar was not respondent’s employer and had no business paying the respondent any sum as appreciation. This is coming at the backdrop of the admission by the respondent that he got more than he was allegedly entitled to.

“On count two, I find for the appellant that it proved the allegation beyond reasonable doubt. I find the respondent guilty on count two. On counts one, three and four, there was no direct admission and even though it was established that the respondents got cars paid for by SEI Nig Ltd (Himma Abubakar) and delivered by Coscharis.

“Flowing from above therefore, the respondent is discharged and acquitted on counts one, three and four of the charge, but guilty of count two.

“Considering the circumstances and the facts in this appeal, particularly the fact that the respondent quickly refunded the sum of $300.000, there is no history of previous conviction before the court. Therefore, in exercise of the court’s discretion, the respondent is hereby sentenced to two years’ imprisonment and in the alternative, an option of N500, 000 fine.”

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