Abuja- President Muhammadu Buhari has ordered the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) to carry out further investigation into the misconduct established against some retired and serving military officers over arms procurement.
This is contained in a statement issued in Abuja on Friday by the president’s Senior Special Assistant on Media and Publicity, Mallam Garba Shehu.
Shehu stated that the presidential order followed the recommendation of the committee set up to audit the procurement of arms and equipment in the Armed Forces and defence sector from 2007 to 2015.
The affected officers from the Nigerian Air Force and Nigerian Army include Air Chief Marshal Alex Badeh (rtd), Air Marshal M. D. Umar (rtd), Air Marshal A. N. Amosu (rtd) and Maj.-Gen. E.R. Chioba (rtd)
Others are: AVM I. A. Balogun (rtd), AVM A. G. Tsakr (rtd), AVM A. G. Idowu (rtd), AVM A. M. Mamu, AVM O. T. Oguntoyinbo, AVM T. Omenyi, AVM J. B. Adigun, AVM R.A. Ojuawo and AVM J. A. Kayode-Beckley.
Also listed for questioning are: Air Commodore S. A. Yushau (rtd), Air Commodore A. O. Ogunjobi, Air Commodore G. M. D. Gwani, Air Commodore S. O. Makinde, Air Commodore A.Y. Lassa, Col. N. Ashinze and Lt Col. M. S. Dasuki (rtd)
According to the statement, President Buhari also directed the EFCC to investigate the roles of some other officers, companies and their directors following the submission of the audit committee’s second interim report.
It stated that the affected officers and companies were to be investigated to ascertain fundamental breaches associated with the procurements by the Office of the National Security Adviser (ONSA) and the Nigerian Air Force (NAF).
The statement named the affected companies and their directors to include Messrs Societe D’ Equipment Internationaux, Himma Aboubakar, Aeronautical Engineering and Technical Services Limited, Messrs Syrius Technologies and Dr Theresa A. Ittu
Others to be investigated include Sky Experts Nig Ltd, Omenyi Ifeanyi Tony, Huzee Nig Ltd, GAT Techno Dynamics Ltd, Gbujie Peter Obie, Onuri Samuel Ugochukwu and 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, are also to be investigated.
The breaches identified by the audit committee, according to the statement, include 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.
“Furthermore, the procurement processes were arbitrarily carried out and generally characterised by irregularities and fraud.
The statement noted that the procured items failed to meet the purposes they were procured for, especially the counter insurgency efforts in the North- East.
It stated that 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 930,500,690 dollars 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 March 19, 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 136,944,000 dollars.
“However, it was confirmed that the helicopters were excessively priced and not operationally air worthy at the time of delivery, ‘’ the statement maintained.
The committee report further observed that “a brand new unit of such helicopters goes for about 30 million dollars.’’
It further maintained that the helicopters were delivered without rotor blades and upgrade accessories.
It said in addition, the helicopters were undergoing upgrade while being deployed for operation in the North-East without proper documentation.
“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 statement said the committee established that ONSA also funded the procurement of four used Alpha-Jets for the NAF at the cost of 7,180,000 million dollars.
The committee, however, confirmed that only two of the Alpha-Jet aircraft were ferried to Nigeria after cannibalisation of engines from NAF fleet.
“This is contrary to the written assertion of the former Chief of Air Staff, Air Marshal A. N. Amosu to the former NSA that all the four procured Alpha-Jets aircraft were delivered to the NAF.
“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,’’ it stated.
The committee report, according to the statement, noted that the procurement of the Alpha-Jets was contrary to the recommendation of the assessment team.
It stated that 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 33million dollars 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 dollars averagely.
The statement revealed that the committee observed that the sum of 3.3million dollars was fraudulently included in the contract agreement as VAT and With Holding Tax and subsequently paid into the bank accounts of Spacewebs Interservices Ltd and Delfina Oil and Gas Ltd.
The committee further established that two million dollars from the proceeds was transferred to Mono Marine Corporation Nig Ltd, “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 N15billion on the maintenance of its Alpha-Jets, C-130H aircraft and Mi-24V/35P helicopters.
“Out of this amount, N4,402,687,569.41 was paid out for contracts not executed.’’
“It was also observed that in carrying out these maintenance activities, N2.5billion were awarded to Syrius Technologies, a Ukrainian company that was not registered in Nigeria.’’
According to the statement, regrettably, in spite of these expenditures, the status of NAF fleet remained operationally appalling as only 3 Alpha-Jets, 2 C-130H and one each of Mi-24V and Mi-35P were serviceable as at May 28, 2015.
The committee noted that in October 2013, NAF awarded contracts to DICON for the supply of weapons and ammunition at the cost of N599,118,000.
It, however, revealed that only two of the seven items contracted were delivered to NAF, while the outstanding five items remained undelivered despite repeated requests to DICON.
The committee also found that the delivered ammunition was about 40 years old, thereby casting doubts on their shelf life.
It, therefore, noted that the failure of DICON to fully execute the contract and the delivery of aged ammunition diminished the capacity of the NAF in North-East operation.
It said that the committee uncovered insider dealings by military officers in procurement activities undertaken by ONSA and the NAF.
It said that the committee found that 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 had substantial interests.
“For instance, an officer serving in the ONSA used his office to secure two contracts for his company, Geonel Integrated Services Ltd, for the protection of 20 dams and Presidential Air Fleet security at the cost of N6,250,000,000 and five million dollars respectively.’’
It said that some NAF officers used their companies to collect VAT and With Holding Tax that were never remitted to FIRS while another officer was found to have crossed transferred about N500million between a NAF company, Aeronautical Engineering and Technical Services Limited, SkyExperts Nig Ltd and Huzee Nig Ltd, companies in which he had personal interests.
It would be recalled that in its First Interim Report, the Committee on Audit of Defence Equipment, established that N643billion and 2.1billion dollars interventions were received for defence procurements by Defence Headquarters and the Services between 2007 and 2015.
It stated that in continuation of its assignment, the committee had so far established that the nation spent about N29billion and two billion dollars on NAF procurement activities alone.