AS THE Presidential Committee on Defence Equipment Procurement in the Nigerian Armed Forces concludes its task and is set to submit its report to President Muhammadu Buhari this week, there are indications that the president may sack his Interior Minister, Lt. Gen. Abdurahman Danbazau, over his alleged indictment on the report. A highly placed security source, during the weekend, told Nigerian Pilot that the president was not happy with the security briefs he had received so far on the report and is willing to sacrifice the embattled minister to ensure that Nigeria is free of corruption. The source further added that among former army chiefs and other top officers of the Nigerian Army, there were attempts to doctor the report but the panels members resisted. According to the report, the security source said that the committee, which was set up by Mr. President to probe the procurement of arms, ammunition and equipment in the military from 2007 to 2015, said several top retired army officers were indicted and some were already scheming to suppress the content of the report. The source, who described the report as “damning” and “explosive,” said some retired top army officers indicted included present Minister of Interior, Abdurahman Bello Dambazau; the immediate past Chief of Army Staff, Kenneth Minimah, and his predecessor, Azubuike Ihejirika. It is alleged that Dambazau was particularly trying to suppress the content of the report. He was appointed the Chief of Army Staff by late President Umaru Yar’Adua, and served between 2008 and 2010. “The committee members are putting things together and will present its findings to the president in the next few weeks or so,” the source said. According to the report, it was reliably gathered that the committee uncovered a whole lot of things, including the outright stealing of funds meant for equipment for the army, inflation of contracts, diversion of money for soldiers’ welfare, money for the rehabilitation of barracks and military facilities and many other corrupt practices. It would be recalled that in March 2016, the committee, predominantly made up of retired military officers, had summoned 292 retired and serving top army officers, including Generals Dambazau, Ihejirika and Minimah. Last August, the president also directed the National Security Adviser, Mohammed Mongonu, to set up a 13-member investigative committee on the procurement of hardware and munitions in the armed forces from 2007. A statement by the special adviser to the president on media and publicity, Femi Adesina, stated that the investigative committee’s mandate was to identify irregularities and make recommendations for streamlining the procurement process in the armed forces. The establishment of the investigative committee was in keeping with President Buhari’s determination to stamp out corruption and irregularities in Nigeria’s public service, Mr. Adesina said. “It comes against the background of the myriad of challenges that the Nigerian Armed Forces have faced in the course of ongoing counter-insurgency operations in the North-East, including the apparent deficit in military platforms with its attendant negative effects of troops’ morale. “The committee will specifically investigate allegations of non- adherence to correct equipment procurement procedures and the exclusion of relevant logistics branches from arms procurement under past administrations, which very often resulted in the acquisition of sub- standard and unserviceable equipment,” the statement added. Recently, the president ordered the arrest of the former Chief of Air Staff, Adesola Amosu, and other top officers of the Nigerian Air Force, after an interim report of an inquiry into the procurement of equipment uncovered widespread diversion of funds and fraud. Those indicted by the report were former National Security Adviser, Sambo Dasuki; former Chief of Defence Staff, Alex Badeh, and another former Chief of
Air Staff, Mohammed Umar, and other top officers, who are all facing corruption charges in the court. “The procurement processes were arbitrarily carried out and generally characterised by irregularities and fraud,” the panel said. “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 dollars ($930,500,690) 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,” it said. The panel said 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). “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 dollars ($30million),” it noted. Furthermore, the helicopters were delivered without rotor blades and upgrade accessories. “Additionally, 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 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 dollars ($7,180,000). However, it was 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 AN 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. “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 panel said. Amosun and two other senior air force officers arraigned before a Federal High Lagos are already telling the court that they are willing to settle on plea bargain. In a related development, a highly placed EFCC source yesterday confirmed to Nigerian Pilot that the commission was waiting for the official submission of the report before the operatives of the commission would swing into action.

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