Fresh arms scandal: 18 Generals to appear before EFCC Monday

By The Citizen

Eighteen military chiefs that President Muhammadu Buhari ordered the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) to probe will start appearing before the commission on Monday.

According to a reliable source, the commission had sent invitations to some of the Generals and the companies, whose names featured in the report submitted to the President.

A source in the commission stated, 'We have sent invitations to many of them and as from Monday, they will start coming.'

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.

Those affected in the order include embattled former National Security Adviser, Col. ​Sambo Dasuki (retd.); former Chief of Defence Staff, Air Chief Marshal Alex Badeh (retd.); and two former Chiefs of Air Staff, Air Marshal MD Umar (retd.) and Air Marshal Adesola Amosun (retd.).

The Senior Special Assistant to the President on Media and Publicity, Mallam Garba Shehu, disclosed the President's directive in a statement made available to journalists on Friday.

Shehu said the directive was based on the recommendation of the committee established to audit the procurement of arms and equipment in the Armed Forces and Defence sector from 2007 to 2015.

The total budget for procuring arms for the military within the period according to the Federal Government, is N1.67trn.

In its first interim report, the Committee on Audit of Defence Equipment established that the sum N643bn and $2.1bn interventions were received for procurements by DHQ and the services between 2007 and 2015.

He listed others that the President asked the EFCC to probe to include Maj.-​Gen. ​E.R ​Chioba (retd.); AVM​​ I.A​ Balogun (retd.); AVM ​A.G​ Tsakr (retd.); AVM​​ A.G​ Idowu (retd.);AVM ​A.M ​Mamu; AVM ​O.T ​Oguntoyinbo; AVM ​T. ​Omenyi; AVM ​J.B ​Adigun; AVM​​ R.A ​Ojuawo; AVM ​​J.A ​Kayode-Beckley; Air Cdre ​SA ​Yushau (retd.); Air Cdre ​A.O ​Ogunjobi; Air Cdre​ G.M.D ​Gwani; Air Cdre S.O ​Makinde; Air Cdre A.Y ​Lassa​; ​and Col. N ​Ashinze.

Shehu added that following the submission of the audit committee's second interim report, the President had also directed the EFCC to investigate the roles of the officers as well as some companies and their directors in fundamental breaches associated with the procurements by the Office of the National Security Adviser and the Nigerian Air Force.

He gave the names of those affected to include ​Messrs Societe D' Equipment Internationaux; Himma Aboubakar; Aeronautical Engineering and Technical Services Limited; Messrs Syrius Technologies; Dr. Theresa A. Ittu; Sky Experts Nig Ltd.; Omenyi Ifeanyi Tony; Huzee Nig. Ltd.; GAT Techno Dynamics Ltd.; Gbujie Peter Obie and Onuri Samuel Ugochukwu.

Others are ​Spacewebs Interservices Ltd.; Oguntoyinbo Tayo; Oguntoyinbo Funmi; Delfina Oil and Gas Ltd.; Chief Jacobs Bola; Mono Marine Corporation Nig. Ltd.; Geonel Intergrated Services Ltd.; Sachi Felicia; Mudaki Polycarp and Wolfgang Reinl.

The presidential spokesman said the breaches identified by the audit committee included 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, 'Furthermore, the procurement processes were arbitrarily carried out and generally characterised 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.

'​A major procurement activity undertaken by ONSA for NAF was that concerning the contracts awarded to Societe D' Equipment Internationaux (SEI) Nig Ltd.

'Between January 2014 and February 2015, NAF awarded 10 contracts totalling nine hundred and thirty million, five hundred thousand, six hundred and ninety US Dollars ($930,500,690.00) to SEI Nigeria Limited.

'Letters of award and End User Certificates for all the contracts issued by NAF and ONSA respectively did not reflect the contract sums. Rather, these were only found in the vendor's invoices, all dated 19 March, 2015.

'Additionally, some of the award letters contained misleading delivery dates suggesting fraudulent intent in the award process. The observed discrepancies are in clear contravention of extant procurement regulations.

'The SEI contracts included procurement of two used Mi-24V helicopters instead of the recommended Mi-35M series at the cost of one hundred and thirty six million, nine hundred and forty four thousand US Dollars ($136,944,000.00).

'However, it was confirmed that the helicopters were excessively priced and not operationally air worthy at the time of delivery. A brand new unit of such helicopters goes for about thirty million US Dollars ($30m). Furthermore, the helicopters were delivered without rotor blades and upgrade accessories.'

Shehu added that the helicopters were undergoing upgrade while being deployed for operation in the North-East without proper documentation.

He said it was further established that as at date, only one of the helicopters is in service while the other crashed and claimed the lives of two NAF personnel.

The presidential spokesman also said the committee established that ONSA also funded the procurement of four used Alpha-Jets for the NAF at the cost of seven million, one hundred and eighty thousand US Dollars ($7,180,000.00).

However, according of him, it was confirmed that only two of the Alpha-Jet aircraft were ferried to Nigeria after cannibalisation of engines from NAF fleet.

This, he added, was contrary to the written Amosu's assertion to the former NSA that all the four procured Alpha-Jets aircraft were delivered to the NAF.

He said the non-militarisation of the Alpha-Jets made them unsuitable for deployment to the North-East and they are currently deployed only for training at NAF Kainji.

He added, 'Furthermore, the procurement of the Alpha-Jets was contrary to the recommendation of the assessment team. The committee found that the conduct of Air Marshal Amosu was deliberately misleading and unpatriotic.

'The contract for the procurement of 36D6 Low Level Air Defence Radar for the NAF was awarded to GAT Techno Dynamics Ltd in April 2014 at the cost of thirty three million US Dollars ($33m) and was funded by ONSA.

'The committee established that the radars were excessively priced as a complete set of such radars (comprising six radars including the Control Centre) goes for six million US Dollars ($6m) averagely.

'The committee observed that the radars were delivered without the vital component of Identification Friend or Foe (IFF) that distinguishes between own and adversary aircraft, which has significantly degraded the operational capabilities of the NAF in the North-East.

'It was further observed that the sum of three million, three hundred thousand US Dollars ($3.3m) was fraudulently included in the contract agreement as VAT and withholding tax and subsequently paid into the bank accounts of Spacewebs Interservices Limited and Delfina Oil and Gas Limited.

'The committee further established that two million US Dollars ($2m) from the proceeds was transferred to Mono Marine Corporation Nigeria Limited, which is jointly owned by principal characters in this deal. The committee opined that the infractions of extant regulations by these companies were clearly intended to defraud.

'It was established that between September 2009 and May 2015, the NAF expended about fifteen billion Naira (N15bn) on the maintenance of its Alpha-Jets, C-130H aircraft and Mi-24V/35P helicopters.

'Of this amount, four billion, four hundred and two million, six hundred and eighty seven thousand, five hundred and sixty nine Naira, forty one Kobo (N4,402,687,569.41) was paid out for contracts not executed.

'It was also observed that in carrying out these maintenance activities, contracts worth over two billion, five hundred million Naira (N2.5bn) were awarded to Syrius Technologies, a Ukrainian company that was not registered in Nigeria.

'Regrettably, in spite of these expenditures, the status of NAF fleet remained operationally appalling as only three Alpha-Jets, two C-130H and one each of Mi-24V and Mi-35P were serviceable as of 28 May, 2015.'

Shehu also disclosed that in October 2013, NAF awarded contracts to DICON for the supply of weapons and ammunition at the cost of five hundred and ninety nine million, one hundred and eighteen thousand Naira (N599, 118,000.00).

He said only two of the seven items contracted were delivered to NAF while the outstanding five items remained undelivered despite repeated requests to DICON.

He said the committee also found that the delivered ammunition was about 40 years old, thereby casting doubts on their shelf life.

The failure of DICON to fully execute the contract and the delivery of aged ammunition, he explained, diminished the capacity of the NAF in North-East operation.

'The committee uncovered insider dealings by military officers in procurement activities undertaken by ONSA and the NAF. The officers were found to have misused or abused their offices for personal gains by influencing award of contracts to private companies in which they have substantial interests.

'For instance, an officer serving in the ONSA used his office to secure two contracts for his company, Geonel Integrated Services Limited for the protection of 20 Dams and Presidential Air Fleet security at the cost of six billion, two hundred and fifty million Naira (N6,250,000,000.00) and five million US Dollars ($5m) respectively.

'Furthermore, some NAF officers used their companies to collect VAT and Withholding Tax that were never remitted to FIRS while another officer was found to have cross transferred about Five Hundred Million Naira (N500m) between a NAF company, Aeronautical Engineering and Technical Services Limited, SkyExperts Nigeria Limited and Huzee Nigeria Limited, companies in which he had personal interests.

'In continuation of its assignment, the Committee has so far established that the nation spent about twenty nine billion Naira (N29bn) and two billion US Dollars ($2bn) on NAF procurement activities alone,' Shehu said. – Punch.