This is just as it was gathered yesterday that the committee member, who was arrested at his Lungi Close residence, Maitama, Abuja, is being probed for possession of firearms “without valid licence” and money laundering, whereas the DSS had obtained a warrant from an Abuja Magistrates Court to search his residence on suspicion of terrorism financing and money laundering.
Umar was arrested on allegations of fronting for top officials of the EFCC and office of the National Security Adviser (NSA).
The EFCC had however denied that its chairman, Ibrahim Magu, was involved.
Sources in the probe committee alleged that the arrest of the retired senior military officer was meant to be a way of tarnishing the integrity of its members and rubbishing the work of the probe panel.
Documents obtained by LEADERSHIP indicate that the DSS had obtained a search warrant on the panel’s member from a magistrate court in Abuja ostensibly on suspicion of terrorism financing and money laundering.
Another source close to the arms probe panel disclosed that the arrest of Umar was “part of a sinister ploy to get at the committee and rubbish all that we have done. And the Air Commodore being a key member of the committee knows too much and has a lot of documents that aid our work. That is why some are jittery.”
Umar is said be one of those instrumental to the early success of the committee using personal links to attract foreign experts on forensics and arms procurement to help the panel in unearthing alleged frauds committed over the years.
Chairman of the probe panel, AVM John Ode was said to have met with President Muhammadu Buhari at the weekend to express his concerns and that of other committee members over the fate of the panel’s work in the light of Umar’s arrest.
“You know these people have presented their report on the Air Force on the basis of which a number of Air Force chiefs are now standing trial. They were preparing to submit that of the Army this week, which has indicted many people, some top officials of this government and that is why they are desperate to stop that” our source close to the committee stated.ADVERTISEMENT
“The $1.5 million (it is actually $1.3 million) they discovered in his house was nothing for a man that has several aircrafts in his fleet. In fact, that money was paid to him for a shuttle of his cargo aircraft from Nairobi to Houston. He needed cash and asked the MD to take the money to him and they have all documents for that,” a source disclosed.
Umar, who is said to be “a legitimately wealthy person” even while in service, was said to have been nicknamed “Businessman” while in the Air Force because of his huge investments in aviation and the oil sector.
The First Information Report presented to the court said the security service is probing Umar for possessions of firearms “without valid license” and money laundering.
According to the court papers, DSS operatives had obtained from his house “large amount of money in local and foreign currencies suggestive of the fact that he received the said monies in contravention of the Money Laundering Act”.ADVERTISEMENT
“These allegations are like wild goose chase. One, how can a person with unblemished military career like General Umar and who is close to the president will be accused of terrorism financing? Which terrorists? And because that cannot fly they changed the music.
“The two pump action guns they picked from his house were registered when he procured them in the year 2000. The license is there. And how can you say someone who has business interests all over the world cannot be found in possession of foreign currencies?
“General Umar travels widely. He is friend of several heads of governments across the world and his two companies, EasyJet and African Energy have business interests the world over. And the cars that they found there are vehicles that he bought over the years; some ten some, some eight, some five years,” a source said.