By Ibrahim Umar
A report says the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) rather favours a plea bargain, including a guilt admission and lighter jail sentence for former Chief of Air Staff, Air Marshal Mohammed Umar accused of stealing N7.8bn. This the anti-graft agency prefers to out-of-court settlement being offered by the Umar to avoid trial and jail. But the EFCC reportedly stated that its proposed plea bargain, if accepted by Umar, will have the ex-Air chief return all the stolen cash and forfeiture of choice properties to the government, which the latter’s team hasn’t respond to as at Friday.
“What we have at hand is a criminal matter. The accused person must first of all admit that he committed the offence. So far, by the court records, the ex-Chief of Staff said he is not guilty of all the allegations against him.
“Let him do the needful and thereafter, he can initiate a plea bargain option which we will consider on merit,” a EFCC source allegedly said.
Umar is facing a seven-count charge of violating Money Laundering Prohibition Act 2011, as amended. The EFCC alleged Umar stole funds from the accounts of the Nigerian Air Force(NAF) between September 2010 and December 2012 to buy six choice properties in Abuja, Kano and Kaduna states. The properties include a house at 1853, Deng Xiao Ping Street, Off Mahathir Mohammed Street, Asokoro Extension, Abuja; a four-bedroom duplex with boys’ quarters at Road 3B, Street 2, Mabushi Ministers Hill, Abuja; a property at 14, Audu Bako Way, G.R.A. Kano State.
The trial judge Binta Nyako adjourned the matter till June 16 for the prosecution to call its witnesses.