$15: EFCC to arraign ex-Chief of Air Staff, MD Umar Dikko, 16 others

By The Rainbow

THE Economic and Financial Crimes Commission said Tuesday it would arraign another military in connection with mismanagement of $15 billion funds allocated to the Nigerian Air Force.

According to a statement by  EFCC's Head of Media and Publicity , Mr. Wilson Uwujaren,   “a former Chief of Air Staff M D Umar Dikko is to be arraigned by the EFCC on Wednesday, May 11, 2016, before Justice Binta Murtala Nyako of the Federal High Court, Abuja.”

He said the arraignment  would be in connection with $15 billion arms deals.

Besides accounting for arms and equipment procured during his tenure, Umar may also face trial for allegedly benefitting from N558.2 million monthly from funds meant for salaries of NAF officials.

A former Director of Finance and Accounts at NAF, Air Commodore Salisu Abdullahi Yushau (retd), told a Federal High Court sitting in Abuja, that all past Air chief marshals, diverted N558.2 million monthly.

A media aide to the former chief of Air staff, however, said Air Marshal Umar had records of how he spent N558.2 million monthly on projects.

He said part of the funds was used for pilot training, among others.

President Muhammadu Buhari had approved the investigation of the  immediate past Chief of Defence Staff , 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, for alleged fraudulent arms purchases for the Air Force between 2007 and 2015.

The anti-graft agency was also beam their investigative searchlight on  16 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.

EFCC however was silent on the charges against Umar.

But a report in The Nation indicates that “the allegations against Umar have to do with procurement of arms, aircraft,  and maintenance of Alpha-Jets. They are in connection with some  areas  in the report of the Special Presidential Committee on arms procurement, headed by AVM JON Ode.

“Umar will also be answerable for what he did with the excess of N558.2 million from the monthly salaries of NAF officers and men.”

Some areas of investigation referred to EFCC by the Presidency are: • how 10 contracts totalling $930,500,690.00 were awarded;

  • payment of N4, 402, 687, 569.41 for unexecuted contracts
  • procurement of two used Mi-24V Helicopters instead of the recommended Mi-35M series at $136,944,000.00;
  • four used Alpha-Jets for NAF at US$7,180,000.00 funded by ONSA;
  • cannibalisation of engines from NAF fleet to justify procurement of jets;
  • excessive pricing of 36D6 Low Level Air Defence Radar at $33 million instead of $6 million per one;
  • delivery of radars without vital component of Identification Friend or Foe (IFF) that distinguishes between own Strange transfer of $2 million to Mono Marine Corporation Nigeria Limited owned by some Air Force officers;
  • N15 billion lavished on maintenance of Alpha-Jets, C-130H aircraft and Mi-24V/35P helicopters;
  • N2.5 billion contracts awarded to Syrius Technologies (Ukrainian company) not registered in Nigeria;
  • Award of seven contracts worth N599,118,000.00 to Defence Industry Corporation of Nigeria (DICON), but only two was delivered

But a media aide  to the ex-chief of Air staff said the money in question was not missing as there were records of what was done with them.

In a statement in Abuja, the aide said: “This (N558.2 million) was what Air Marshal Umar used to execute the laudable projects for which he is known in the Nigerian Air Force.

“They were used to reactivate and maintain aircraft for which no funds were released from the normal budgets. They were used for training programmes, including pilot training, which reached a height under his watch.

“Remember that it was in the process that the Nigerian Air Force got the first female combat pilot. Part of the fund was used for payment of estacode allowances of officers, who were on training; renovation and building of offices and residential accommodation for officers and men.

“There are records of these and they are not hidden. Nigerians will, through this, see the real Air Marshal Umar and his sacrifice to the Nigerian Air Force.”