A member of committee set up by President Muhammadu Buhari to investigate procurement of arms and equipment in the Armed Forces, Air Commodore Umar Mohammed, has been re-arraigned before the Federal High Court in Abuja.
Umar, 54, was arraigned on Friday with his company, Easy Jet Integrated Services Limited, before Justice John Tsoho, on a four-count amended charge. They were charged with money laundering, illegal possession of firearms and violation of the Official Secret Act.
They were earlier arraigned in July before another judge of the same court, Justice Nnamdi Dimgba, who granted Umar bail at N100m, with two sureties at N50m each. The sureties could be a private citizen or public officer, with landed property in the Federal Capital Territory (FCT).
Umar’s rearraignment on Friday was informed by the transfer of the case to another judge and the amendment of the earlier charge by the prosecution.
Umar and his company are accused of conspiracy and accepting $1,030,000 in cash from a frim, Worldwide Consortium PTY Ltd, “as payment for flight services without going through a financial institution as required by law.
They have, by so doing, committed money laundering, contrary to sections 18 (a) and 16(1)(d) of the Money Laundering Act 2011 and punishable under Section 16(2)(b) of the Act.
Umar was accused of being in illegal possession of two pump action guns (marked: SBSG Magnum 397 and SBGS Interpress 09-1573) between June 1, 2011 and June 19, 2016 without valid licenses and thereby committed an offence contrary to Section 4 of the Firearms Act 2004 and punishable under Section 27(1)(b)(i) of the act.
He was also accused of having at his No: 4 Lungi Close, Mississippi, Maitama, Abuja home “classified/official documents without lawful authority and thereby committed an offence contrary to Section 1(1)(b) of the Official Secret Act and punishable under Section 7(1)(a) of the same Act.”
Umar pleaded not guilty to the charge when it was read to him. His lawyer, Hassan Liman (SAN), who led Ibrahim Bawa (SAN), urged the court to grant Umar bail on the terms and conditions attached to the bail earlier granted him by Justice Dimgba.
Liman told the court that his client had been held incommunicado by men of the Department of State Services (DSS) since June 19 when he was arrested. He accused the DSS of refusing to obey Justice Dimgba, directing that Umar be remanded in prison pending when he was able to meet the bail conditions.
Although prosecution lawyer Magaji Labaran opposed Liman’s application, Justice Tsoho, in a ruling, upheld the defence lawyer’s argument and granted Umar bail on the terms and conditions earlier set by Justice Dimgba.
Justice Tsoho ordered that Umar, who was dressed in a white agbada and a cap, be remanded in Kuje prison in Abuja pending the perfection of his the bail. He adjourned until November 7 for trial.