…uncovers massive fraud
…..EFCC Begins Probe Of Indicted Officers, Firms
The Presidential Panel set up to audit arms purchase between 2007 and 2015, has submitted its final report to President Muhammadu Buhari, our reporter has gathered. The Presidency, according to sources, is set to release the report on the probe of procurement arms and ammunition by the Nigerian Army. Highly placed sources told our reporter that the report on the probe of the Army indicted three former Chiefs of Army Staff, serving and retired Generals, many of whom had appeared before the panel.
A former Director- General of the Defence Industries Corporation of Nigeria (DICON), who is an Army General, was also indicted. Also, many of the companies and contractors that participated in the supply of equipment to the Nigerian Army were indicted in the report.
The panel report noted that the procurement processes were arbitrarily carried out and generally characterised by irregularities and fraud. The source further disclosed that some of the past service chiefs and Generals indicted by the panel have been recommended for further investigation and possible prosecution by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC).
It was learnt that some of the indicted army officers and contractors were indicted over contracts paid for but not executed, diversion of funds, inflated contracts, supply of substandard equipment and other infractions in the procurement of arms and ammunition between 2007 and 2015.
Some of the indicted army officers were accused of using fronts to obtain contracts from the Nigerian Army and failed to execute or poorly implementing such. The panel also traced some payments made to accounts of the army officers by the contractors, which were considered as bribes.
“The report is damning. It will definitely expose the rot in the Nigerian Army. So many senior officers, both serving and retired, are indicted in the report. Some companies that supplied equipment, arms and ammunition were also recommended for prosecution. It is a mess,” a source close to the panel told our reporter.
It was learnt that the president was miffed at the massive fraud that characterised procurement contracts in the military during the period under review. Speaking in confidence with our reporter, one of the sources said the final report indicated that the alleged fraud in the Nigerian Air Force (NAF) at the time was just a tip of the iceberg, when compared with what occurred in the Army.
It was learnt that owing to the weighty nature of the findings, coupled with the anticipated reactions it will elicit in the military and the public, Buhari initially asked that the report be made a classified document. “The Audit Panel has submitted its final report to Mr. President.
But, looking at how weighty and mind-boggling the findings are, the Presidency may have thought it wise that it should not be put in the public space. “If it is disclosed, the military itself might lose its pride, as officers and personnel may be demoralised. ”
In fact, the previous interim report on the NAF is a child’s play when compared with this,” he said. But, after so much consideration, the president agreed that the report should be made public just as it was done in the case of the Air Force. However, a copy of the report was said to have been transmitted to the EFCC for action.
The EFCC is already prosecuting a former Commander of Guards Brigade and erstwhile Commander of the Joint Military Task Force, Operation Pulo Shield, Major General Emmanuel Atewe, on an 11-count charge bordering on conspiracy, abuse of office and money laundering.
The officer, who is currently serving with the army’s Training and Doctrine Command in Minna, Niger State, was charged alongside a former Director General of the Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency (NIMASA), Patrick Ziadeke Akpobolokemi; Kime Engozu and Josphine Otuaga.
The accused persons allegedly conspired among themselves to divert over N8 billion paid into the account of the Joint Military Task Force by NIMASA during the tenure of Akpobolokemi. The money was allegedly converted into foreign exchange and the proceeds shared by the defendants.
The interim report earlier released had indicted a former Chief of Defence Staff, Air Chief Marshal Alex Badeh (rtd) and two former Chiefs of Air Staff, Air Marshalls MD Umar (rtd) and Adesola Amosu. Other serving and retired officers also indicted were: Maj-Gen. E.R. Chioba (rtd), AVM I.A. Balogun (rtd), AVM A.G. Tsakr (rtd), AVM A.G. Idowu (rtd), AVM A.M. Mamu, AVM O.T. Oguntoyinbo, AVM T. Omenyi, AVM J.B. Adigun and AVM R.A. Ojuawo.
Others were: AVM J.A. Kayode-Beckley, Air Cdre S.A. Yushau (rtd), Air Cdre A.O. Ogunjobi, Air Cdre GMD Gwani, Air Cdre S.O. Makinde, Air Cdre A.Y. Lassa , Col. N. Ashinze and Lt Col. M.S. Dasuki (Rtd). Buhari had, in August 2015, inaugurated a 13-man panel, to probe allegations of “non-adherence to correct equipment procurement procedures and the exclusion of relevant logistics branches from arms procurement under past administrations, which, very often resulted in the acquisition of sub-standard and unserviceable equipment.” The investigation covers procurements between 2007 and 2015.