Nigeria: Buhari's order on culprits in alleged fraudulent arms purchases reported in Nigeria

Lagos, Nigeria (PANA) - President Muhammadu Buhari's directive on Friday to the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) to establish the scope of the culpability of some retired and serving high-ranking Army and Air Force officers dominated newspaper front pages in Nigeria this week.

The officers include the immediate past Chief of Defence Staff (CDS), Air Chief Marshal Alex Sabundu Badeh, former Chief of Air Staff, Air Marshal Mohammed Dikko Umar (2010 -2012) and the immediate past Chief of Air Staff, Air Marshal Adesola Nunayon Amosu. They are suspected to be involved in alleged fraudulent arms purchases for the Air Force between 2007 and 2015.

Also lined up for investigation by the anti-graft agency are 14 other retired and serving  military officers and 21 firms said to have been awarded the contracts. The companies have been traced to associates and relatives of some of the suspects.

The NATION, with the caption "Arms deal: Tension as Buhari orders probe of ex-CDS Badeh, two Air Chiefs, 15 others', reported that a committee on the audit of defence equipment has confirmed that Nigeria spent about US$2 billion and another 29 billion Naira on the Nigeria Air Force procurement alone during the period in question.

Indicted persons, it said, may be prosecuted after the EFCC probe.

Malam Garba Shehu, the Senior Special Assistant  (Media and Publicity) to the President, revealed the names of those to be investigated.

According to the NATION, there was disquiet in the Armed Forces over the  alleged involvement of the officers in the arms deals, saying that there were indications that all the affected serving officers will have to step down from their command positions pending the conclusion of investigation.

Most of them might be taken into custody for grilling by the EFCC.

Only Col. N. Ashinze (Special Military Assistant to the ex-National Security Adviser, Col. Sambo Dasuki) has been detained by the EFCC in the last two weeks

The anti-graft agency has also grilled Alex Badeh Jr., the son of the former Chief of Defence Staff in connection with the arms scandal.

Only on Wednesday, the EFCC sealed a building in Abuja, said to belong to Badeh, as part of the investigation of his involvement.

Similarly, the EFCC will probe some companies and their directors for alleged fundamental breaches associated with the procurements by the Office of the National Security Adviser (ONSA) and the Nigerian Air Force (NAF):

Malam  Shehu said that the President took the decision to investigate the former service chiefs and other based on the report of  the audit committee which, according to him, identified such breaches as non-specification of procurement costs, absence of contract agreements, award of contracts beyond authorised thresholds, transfer of public funds for unidentified purposes and general non-adherence to provisions of the Public Procurement Act.

He said the procurement processes were “arbitrarily carried out and generally characterized by irregularities and fraud.”

“In many cases, the procured items failed to meet the purposes they were procured for, especially the counter insurgency efforts in the North East,” he said.

The PUNCH ran the story under the headline "Fresh arms scandal: 18 Generals to appear before EFCC Monday". The story said 18 military chiefs that President Muhammadu Buhari ordered the EFCC to probe will start appearing before the commission on Monday.

Saturday PUNCH learnt that the commission had sent invitations to some of the Generals and the companies, whose names featured in the report submitted to the President.

President Buhari had on Friday directed the EFCC to carry out further investigation into the alleged misconduct established against some retired and serving officers of the Nigerian Air Force and Nigerian Army.

The total budget for procuring arms for the military within the period according to the Federal Government, is 1.67 trillion Naira.

In its first interim report, the Committee on Audit of Defence Equipment established that the sum 643 billion Naira and US$ 2.1 billion interventions were received for procurements by the Defence Headquarters and the services between 2007 and 2015.

In its second story, captioned "Try ex-military chiefs for war crimes, Northern groups tell Buhari", the PUNCH reported that some Northern groups on Friday expressed shock over the latest revelation that former military chiefs were involved in a monumental financial misconduct, asking President Muhammadu Buhari to try them for war crimes.

Their anger came amid directive by President Muhammadu Buhari that the EFCC should probe the alleged misconduct established against some retired and serving officers of the Nigerian Air Force and the Nigerian Army..

The Deputy National Chairman, Northern Elders Forum, Dr. Paul Unongo, was furious that such a monumental financial misconduct was carried by the ex-military chiefs.

“If it is true that the former military chiefs got money to buy arms, which they did not buy eventually, then, this is bad,” the octogenarian said.

He said such a brazen misconduct might have contributed to why protracted killings by the Boko Haram insurgents went on for nearly a decade in the North-East.

According to him, if a President of a country cannot control, punish and discipline its military, there is tendency for the institution to drift like it happened under the former President and the former military chiefs.

He said the action of the former chiefs compromised the ethics of their profession, saying if they were really committed to the anti-Boko Haram fight, the activities of the insurgents would have long been contained.

Unogo noted that the military under the immediate former President was a clear contrast to the military under the United States President, Barack Obama, who is always on top of the security situation in his country.

The PUNCH third story was captioned "Anti-corruption: Buhari’ll step on big toes, says presidency". It quoted the Presidency as saying on Friday said President Muhammadu Buhari would not hesitate to step on big toes in the current war his administration is waging against corruption in the country.

The Senior Special Assistant to the President on Media and Publicity, Mallam Garba Shehu, said this at the opening of a three-day retreat organised for State House correspondents in Kaduna.

The retreat with the theme: “Journalism and the change mantra, State House in focus,” was organised by the Presidency and hosted by the Kaduna State Government.

While admitting that anti-corruption is a war, Shehu said the press could help Buhari to win the war as one of government’s weapons against those who aim to pull the country down.

He said that was necessary because the power of the media lies in its ability to expose wrongdoing.

He said, “President Buhari has embarked on an anti-corruption campaign that is bound to offend many. Big toes will be stepped on; personal interests will be cast aside. As the popular saying goes, when you fight corruption, corruption fights back.

“Yes, anti-corruption is a war. And the press can help President Muhammadu Buhari to win that war. You are one of the government’s most lethal weapons in this battle against the forces that aim to pull down Nigeria."

While THISDAY ran the story under the headline "Buhari Orders Probe of Jonathan's Top Military Chiefs for Alleged Fraudulent Arms Procurement", the VANGUARD screamed "Why we’ve not arrested Jonathan — EFCC boss".

According to the VANGUARD, the EFCC this week explained why it has not arrested former President Goodluck Jonathan following startling revelations on how the former National Security Adviser, NSA, Col Sambo Dasuki  (retd) allegedly disbursed over US$2.1 billion meant for arms purchase to various individuals.

Alarmed by the revelations, the National leadership of the Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, has, however, asked Dr Jonathan to speak out.

Explaining why the former president has not been arrested while speaking with online news publishers in Lagos, the EFCC boss, Mr Ibrahim Magu, said that no document has been traced to Jonathan giving any approval for the disbursement of the money for any purpose other than arms purchase.

He said that all those questioned so far in connection with the money were people who disbursed or collected it for reasons other than the purchase of arms and ammunition.

“All approvals by former president Jonathan did not mention that it was for political purposes."
-0- PANA VAO 16Jan2016

16 january 2016 07:37:00

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