Salisu Abdullahi, a retired air commodore, has told Justice Okon Abang of the federal high court, Abuja, that Alex Badeh, while he was the chief of air staff, “usually” instructed him to convert N558m to dollars and bring to his house.
The amount represented the leftover of funds meant for the monthly payment of staff salaries, said Abdullahi, who was director of finance and account of the Nigeria air force from October 2010 to December 2013.
Abdullahi, who is the first witness called by Rotimi Jacobs, the prosecution in the ongoing trial of Badeh, however, said that the instruction to convert the money to dollar was given to him verbally as it is custom in the military.
“We receive about N4bn monthly for the payment of salaries. Our total wage bill, when I was finance director, was above N2bn,” he explained.
“The balance of the money for personnel emolument was about N1.7bn. The sum of N558m was earmarked for the general administration of the chief of staff’s office monthly. The balance is proposed for disbursement to the units.
”In most cases the chief of air staff directs that the amount be exchange into US dollars and taken to the headquarters Nigeria air force camp. When this money is exchanged it is brought to me, and I take this money to the chief air staff at home- his official residence at Niger Barracks.
“As military officers we don’t request for any acknowledgment. In some cases, I do tell the finance officer to meet me at air house at Niger barracks with the money so that he can see when I hand over the money to the chief of air staff.
“The instruction to convert the money to dollar was not in writing. The chief of air gives many instructions that are not in writing. The instructions in writing are those requests forwarded to his office from the branches.
”When I came I met N120m earmarked for the office of the director of finance. It was part of the balance of personal emolument released monthly. But I rejected it. I asked that the money place under the control of the chief of staff for tours and visits, and other sundry issues.”