Arms Deals: Bank accounts of ex-military chiefs put on suspension

By The Citizen

The Special Investigative Panel on arms procurement may have indicted two former Chiefs of Army Staff and 14 serving officers of the army in its investigation of arms contracts for the military, The Nation can reveal.

This comes just 24 hours after President Muhammadu Buhari mandated the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) to establish the scope of the culpability of the immediate past Chief of Defence Staff (CDS), Air Chief Marshal Alex Badeh; former Chief of Air Staff, Air Marshal Mohammed Umar (2010 -2012) and the immediate past Chief of Air Staff, Air Marshal Adesola Amosu, 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.

There were indications last night that the appropriate government agencies might have placed restriction on the accounts of Badeh and the others being probed along with him.

The military authorities have already recalled two of the officers listed for interrogation by EFCC from terminal leave.

Highly placed sources said yesterday that the second leg of investigation of procurement deals in the army has already been concluded.

This aspect of the investigation, a source said yesterday, 'traced some deals to two ex-Chiefs of Army Staff and 14 others.'

'The recommendations on these serving and retired officers have been referred to the presidency.One of the officers even diverted arms funds for political purposes,' the source added.

'So, what we did was just to wrap up the report on the sleaze in the Nigerian Air Force for consideration by the Presidency. We are doing it in batches.'

Other sources said that a restriction order had been placed on the accounts of ex-CDS Badeh and the 17 other retired and serving officers facing interrogation.

Some of those affected are the most senior Air Force officer, AVM A. M. Mamu(the Chief of Administration); AVM O.T. Oguntoyinbo (former Director of Production, Defence Headquarters);  AVM R.A. Ojuawo (Air Officer Tactical Air Command, Makurdi);  AVM J.B. Adigun(former Chief of Accounts and Budgeting in NAF); AVM JA Kayode-Beckley(Director, Armament Research in Air Force Research and Development Centre); AVM T Omenyi (MD, NAF Holdings); four top officers at the Defence Headquarters(DHQ), Air Cdre AO Ogunjobi; Air Cdre GMD Gwani; Air Cdre SO Makinde; Air Cdre AY Lassa and Col. N. Ashinze , who was the Special Military Assistant to the ex-National Security Adviser, Col. Sambo Dasuki.

One source said: 'As part of the investigation of these officers, some of their properties have been identified. These houses will be attached under the Assets Forfeiture Clause in the EFCC Act pending the conclusion of probe into their alleged involvement in the arms deals.

'This is a normal step in any high-profile investigation like the one at hand.'

Sections 28 and 34 of the EFCC (Establishment Act) 2004 and Section 13(1) of the Federal High Court Act, 2004 empower the anti-graft agency to invoke Interim Assets Forfeiture Clause.

'Section 28 of the EFCC Act reads: 'Where a person is arrested for an offence under this Act, the Commission shall immediately trace and attach all the assets and properties of the person acquired as a result of such economic or financial crime and shall thereafter cause to be obtained an interim attachment order from the Court.'

Section 13 of the Federal High Court Act reads in part: 'The Court may grant an injunction or appoint a receiver by an interlocutory order in all cases in which it appears to the Court to be just or convenient so to do.

(2)          Any such order may be made either unconditionally or on such terms and conditions as the Court thinks just.'

Meanwhile, findings confirmed that two of the 18 officers in Badeh's group have been recalled from terminal leave ahead of their retirement.

Another source said: 'Two of the officers, who are on terminal leave have also been recalled until they are cleared by the EFCC.'

A highly-placed military source said: 'The handover of these officers to EFCC is a personal matter, not a service issue. 'For instance, a top military officer has been in EFCC detention since December 23, 2005 and there were issues that the Nigerian Army has not sent any officer to him.

'The truth is that there was no way the Army can intervene on his behalf because of the issues at stake.  'The officer has been claiming that nothing was found against him but we will leave that to the EFCC and eventually the court. 'All these officers are certainly on their own. They have to bear individual cross to clear their names.' The Nation