Buhari orders probe of ex-CDS Badeh, two Air Chiefs, 15 others
President Muhammadu Buhari on Friday directed the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission 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 Senior Special Assistant to the President on Media and Publicity, Mallam Garba Shehu,said in a statement made available to journalists on Friday, that 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.
Military officers 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 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.
Indicted persons may be prosecuted after the EFCC probe.
Malam Garba Shehu,Senior Special Assistant (Media and Publicity) to the President, gave the names of those to be investigated as:
(1) Air Chief Marshal A.S. Badeh (Rtd)
(2) Air Marshal M.D. Umar (Rtd)
(3) Air Marshal A.N. Amosu (Rtd)
(4) Maj-Gen. E.R. Chioba (Rtd), former Director General, Defence Industry Corporation of Nigeria (DICON)
(5) AVM I.A. Balogun (Rtd)
(6) AVM A.G. Tsakr (Rtd)
(7) AVM A.G. Idowu (Rtd)
(8) AVM A.M. Mamu (NAF Chief of Administration)
(9) AVM O.T. Oguntoyinbo (former Director of Production, Defence Headquarters)
(10) AVM T. Omenyi (MD, NAF Holdings)
(11) AVM J.B. Adigun (former Chief of Accounts and Budgeting)
(12) AVM R.A. Ojuawo (Air Force Tactical Air Command, Makurdi)
(13) AVM J.A. Kayode-Beckley (Director, Armament Research in Air Force Research and Development Centre)
(12) Air Cdre S.A. Yushau (Rtd)
(13) Air Cdre A.O. Ogunjobi
(14) Air Cdre G.M.D. Gwani
(15) Air Cdre S.O. Makinde
(16) Air Cdre A.Y. Lassa
(16) Col N. Ashinze (Special Military Assistant to former NSA Sambo Dasuki)
(17) Lt Col. M.S. Dasuki (Rtd).
According to the statement, 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.
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.
Citing instances, Shehu said: ”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 Nig Ltd.
“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.
The Nation report cites a top official of the EFCC as saying that a formal notice “has been received from the presidency on the need to investigate the affected retired and serving officers. We got the reference from the presidency on Friday.
“We will invite and arrest some of these officers as may be applicable. Already, we have quizzed the son of the ex-CDS in the last few days.
“All the suspects have been placed on watch-list; they cannot travel out of the country.”
According to the report, a top military officer, who spoke in confidence, said: “All the serving officers have to step down temporarily from their command positions until they have been cleared by the EFCC.
“In line with military tradition in this type of circumstance, their movement is also restricted to the country.
“If it is necessary, they might be isolated in some guest houses to ease their movement to and from the EFCC. Where the EFCC feels that any of them should be detained in its custody, we will hand them over accordingly.”
Responding to a question, the source added, “There is disquiet in the military, but it was more of shock than anything you may think of. Some of these officers are fine gentlemen and their implications jolted many officers and men.”