Former Airforce chief jailed for receiving bribe

A FEDERAL High Court, sitting in Abuja, on Thursday has jailed Air Vice Marshall Tony Omenyi (retired), on the amended three-count charge brought against him by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, EFCC,and sentenced him to an accumulated 21 jail term – seven years on each of the three counts, to run concurrently.

Omenyi was arraigned by the EFCC on November 11, 2016, along with his company, Huzee Nigeria Limited, for abuse of office and money laundering to the tune of N136,323,000.

He had pleaded “not guilty” to the charges, which set the stage for his trial before he was convicted on February 28, 2019.


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After calling five prosecution witnesses and tendering over 20 documents, which were admitted in evidence, the EFCC closed its case on April 17, 2018.

The presiding judge, Justice Nnamdi Dimgba in his judgement noted that the explanations given by the defence in the course of the trial were not credible enough and that the court was satisfied that the prosecution proved its case beyond every reasonable doubt.

Justice Dimgba in his ruling stated that, “Having fully reflected on the above defence as well as evaluated the evidence before me, as a matter of fact, I agree with the 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 count 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 court further held that, in the final analysis, the funds received by the defendants as contained in counts one to three are kickbacks in the contracts awarded by the Nigerian Airforce.

Justice Dimgba said: “Any way it is looked at, either as a direct bribe or kickbacks, or as a share of revenue or profits with a business partner, so long as the source of the funds is from the Nigerian Airforce and linked to the execution of contracts of Nigerian Airforce, I am of the view that the monies as contained in count one to three are rooted in corruption.”






     

     

    The trial judge, thus found him “guilty” on the three counts, and sentenced him to seven years in prison, to run concurrently.

    Justice Dimgba, also ordered Huzee Nigeria Limited, “being a corporate entity” to forfeit the sum of N60 million in the custody of the EFCC to the Federal Government.

    “I further order that the second defendant be compulsory wound up by the federal government,” the trial judge held.

    Advising public officers, Justice Dimgba stressed that “any public official with any duty to do any contract awarded by a government agency with a contractor, should at all times operate at an arm’s length with the said contractor.”

    Amos Abba is a journalist with the International Center for Investigative Reporting, ICIR, who believes that courageous investigative reporting is the key to social justice and accountability in the society.

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