The Federal Government has commenced moves to seize two mansions allegedly belonging to the immediate past Chief of Air Staff, Air Marshal Adesola Amosu (retd.); and a former Chief of Accounts and Budgeting in the Nigerian Air Force, Air Vice Marshal Jacob Adigun.
The PUNCH on Wednesday learnt that the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission had traced two houses in the highbrow areas of London to Amosu and Adigun.
An impeccable source told our correspondent that Amosu and Adigun, who are due to be arraigned for alleged N21bn fraud, purchased the houses in 2014.
“We identified a detached house at 93b Shirehall Park, London, NW42QU, belonging to Adigun. The house was bought at the cost of £875,000 (N333,375,000) while we traced another house to 50 Tenterden Grove, NW41TH, belonging to Amosu. The house was bought at over £1m (N381m),” the source added.
However, investigations by our correspondent showed that the value of the houses had increased.
Our correspondent, who visited Zoopla.co.uk, which real estate agents use in valuing properties in the UK, showed that both properties were bought in August 2014.
According to the website, the property which Adigun allegedly bought in August 2014 at the cost of £875,000 currently goes for £1,046,000 (N398,526,000).
It adds that Amosu’s property, which it said was purchased in November 2014 at £1,850,000, (and not £1m as claimed by the EFCC) is now worth £2,175,000 (N828, 675, 000).
According to the property website, Amosu’s property has six bedrooms, six bathrooms and two sitting rooms.
A source at the EFCC told our correspondent that the Federal Government, through the Office of the Attorney General of the Federation, would write to the government of the United Kingdom to assist in seizing the properties, which were allegedly bought with Nigerian taxpayers’ money.
He said, “What we are seeking is how to seize the properties through diplomatic means. It is a process known as Mutual Legal Treaty Assistance.”
According to the UK media, a large number of mansions in the country are owned by corrupt Nigerians.
In a May 2016 report entitled ‘Palaces of Corruption’, The UK Daily Mail unveiled the London mansions of deceased former Governor of Bayelsa State, Diepreye Alamieyeseigha; another dead ex-governor, Abubakar Audu of Kogi State, and convicted ex-Governor of Delta State, Mr. James Ibori.
Meanwhile, a Federal High Court in Lagos on Wednesday granted a N500m bail to Amosu and 10 others arraigned by the EFCC over alleged N22.8bn fraud.
Amosu was arraigned by the anti-graft agency alongside Adigun, Air Commodore Olugbenga Gbadebo and eight companies before Justice Mohammed Idris.
The companies are Delfina Oil and Gas Limited, Mcallan Oil and Gas Limited, Hebron Housing and Properties Company Limited and Trapezites BDC Fonds and Pricey Limited.
Others are Deegee Oil and Gas Limited, Timsegg Investment Limited and Solomon Health Care Limited.
They were charged with 26 counts of stealing, concealing the proceeds of crime and conversion of funds belonging to the Nigerian Air Force.
After the charges were read to the defendants, they all pleaded not guilty.
Counsel for the 1st and 11th defendants, Chief Bolaji Ayorinde (SAN), informed the court of his motion for bail and sought the leave of the court to move same, which was granted.
Ayorinde said his client had been cooperating fully with the EFCC since his arrest in January 2016.
The senior advocate added, “He has remitted colossal sums of money to the Federal Government, although not in admittance of guilt, but out of cooperation with security agencies.
“My application is that bail be granted to the 1st defendant on self-recognisance. Let those terms be liberal. He has been reporting to the EFCC, sometimes twice a week. The 1st defendant will make himself available for trial.”
Also, Mr. Norrison Quakers (SAN), leading Mr. Kemi Balogun (SAN) and other lawyers for 2nd, 4th, 6th, 7th and 8th defendants, urged the court to grant their clients bail on liberal terms.
He submitted that his client had been cooperative since his arrest, adding that the accused had health challenge.
“The Commission is aware of it. My humble application is that your Lordship grant bail on liberal terms. Incidentally, the 2nd defendant is on administrative bail by the commission. He will be available for trial”, he submitted.
Counsel for the 3rd, 9th and 10th defendants, Mr. A. Etuokwu, also urged the court for bail.
The prosecuting counsel, Rotimi Oyedepo, did not oppose the bail applications but urged the court to give stringent conditions that would secure the defendants’ attendance in court.
In his ruling, Justice Buba granted them bail to the sum of N500m each.
He remanded the 1st and 3rd defendants in prison while the 2nd defendant was remanded in the EFCC custody pending the fulfilment of the bail conditions.
The judge ruled, “Each defendant is granted bail to the sum of N500m with two sureties with landed properties within the jurisdiction of the court. The sureties shall deposit their title documents to the registrar of the court while the EFCC must verify them.”
He added that the sureties must swear to affidavit of means to be verified by the EFCC while the defendants deposit their passports to the court as well.
He adjourned trial to July 8.
According to the charge, the defendants on or about March 5, 2014, in Lagos, “conspired amongst themselves to commit an offence, to wit: Conversion of the sum of N21.5bn, property of the Nigerian Air Force, which sum was derived from stealing, and thereby committed an offence contrary to Section 18(a) of the Money Laundering (Prohibition) (Amendment) Act, 2012 and punishable under Section 15(3) of the same Act.”
They were also accused of indirectly converting the sum of N3.6bn belonging to the NAF among others.