Arms Procurement Deal Probe: Panel Membership Facing Integrity Question | Independent Newspapers Limited
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Arms Procurement Deal Probe: Panel Membership Facing Integrity Question

Arms Procurement Deal
Posted: Jul 21, 2016 at 4:00 am   /   by   /   comments (1)

The Arms Procurement Deal Probe may run into troubled waters. This is because the Presidential Investigative Panel (PIP) raised by the federal government to investigate the transactions is now facing integrity problem and its decisions may not be acceptable to the generality of Nigerians, even if the government approves it.

A civil society organisation, the Freedom of Information Advocates Nigeria, has picked holes on the PIP membership which recently submitted an interim report on the alleged fraud still under investigation by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC).

It would be recalled that President Muhammadu Buhari recently directed the National Security Adviser (NSA) to convene an investigative committee on the procurement of hardware and munitions in the Armed Forces from 2007 till date. The committee’s mandate is to identify irregularities and make recommendations for streamlining the procurement process in the Armed Forces.

The 13-member panel set up by the NSA are AVM J.O.N. Odey (rtd. President); R/Adm J.A. Aikhomu (rtd); R/Adm E. Ogbor (rtd.); Brig Gen L. Adekagun (rtd.); Brig Gen M. Aminu-Kano (rtd); Brig Gen N. Rimtip (rtd.); Cdre T.D. Ikoli; Air Cdre U. Mohammed (rtd.); Air Cdre I. Shafi’I; Col A.A. Ariyibi; Gp Capt C.A. Oriaku (rtd.); Mr. Ibrahim Magu (EFCC) and Brig Gen Y.I. Shalangwa (Secretary).

According to a presidential statement on the issue, “The establishment of the investigative committee is in keeping with President Buhari’s determination to stamp out corruption and irregularities in Nigeria’s public service.

“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 Northeast, 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 Freedom of Information Advocates Nigeria in its interim forensic analysis dated July 17, 2016 and titled ‘Re: Federal Government Of Nigeria Arms Procurement Deal Probe’, made available to Independent, queried the rationale behind the appointment of some of the panel members, who it strongly felt should have been distanced from the process as they were too close to the officers being investigated and as such could not come out with impartial decisions.

The panel members who the organisation felt should have nothing to do with the body because of the positions they occupied and relationship with the officials being investigated are Air Vice Marshal (AVM) John Odey, Chairman of the panel, General Suleiman Labaran, Brig Gen Nyama.

The group’s forensic analysis, issued by Mrs. Sharon Adoli-Lawrence, the Acting Executive Director from the organisation’s office, 39 Grove Road, Cockfosters, London, EN4 9DJ, revealed that Air Vice Marshal (AVM) Odey, the PIP Chairman was the Special Adviser (SA) to the then Minister of Defence, Major Gen Gusau (rtd) between 2014 and  2015.

The group alleged that Odey’s role was to superintend and advise the Gusau on issues relating to arms procurement and other related matters, and as such it was not prudent for him (Odey) to sit in judgment over a matter in which he was involved.

On Labaran, the body stated that as former Director General, Defence Industries Corporation Of Nigeria (DICON) between 2009-2012, “is currently enmeshed in a N3.6B (Three Billion Six hundred million) Naira contract scandal for the production of AK-47 bullets which was 100% paid for but only executed up to 30%.

“As a result, the Nigerian Military continues to suffer casualties fighting Boko Haram. The General has no business on that panel. He is tainted.”

As for Nyama, former the Procurement Director between 2007-2011, the body alleged that he participated in the award of the arms contract, and as such, “he should at best be a witness NOT an investigator.”

The Freedom of Information Advocates Nigeria in its analysis, further observed that “90% of N186 billion arms deal plus the US Dollar counterpart was disbursed by the Ministry of Defence and National Security Adviser’s office without input from the End Users (Army, Navy and Air Force) .

The group also alleged that  “Major General Gusau (rtd), Permanent Secretary Aliyu and others superintended over the arms procurement deal in the Ministry of Defence, NSA’s office, etc, within the period 2007-2015,” and wondered why they were not mentioned in the PIP report.

Also surprising to the group was the case of former Minister Murtala Yar’Adua, who it said was in charge of the Ministry of Defence for the period in question and also superintended over the mismanaged N35 billion Peace-Keeping vote, adding, “We wonder why this supervising minister hasn’t been invited for interrogation.”

Continuing, the analysis further stated: “We also discovered that huge amount of money in Dollars was paid to a Nigerian citizen with links to Niger Republic whose identity was never revealed in the investigative report. Who is this NIGERIAN? The panel should unveil the identity of this person in spirit of transparency.

“The report did not specify the amount allegedly misappropriated by each ministry/agency with dates indicating purpose and level of performance. The funds were all lumped together misleading the general public.

“Each ministry/agency ought to have given account of all funds accrued to them within the period under investigation.”

In conclusion, the Freedom of Information Advocates Nigeria maintained that the group aligned with the Nigerian government’s anti-corruption campaign, but it added however, that Nigerians expected that it must be holistic, transparent and inclusive.

In its reaction, the Igbo Think Tank, Aka Ikenga, on Tuesday stated that while it welcomed the probe of former Chief of Army Staff (COAS), Azubuike Ihejirika, it would not accept selective probe. Chief Goddy Uwazuruike, the president of the group, in a chat with Independent wondered why the name of Minister of Interior, Abdulrahman Danbazzau, who served as Chief of Army Staff from from 2008 to 2010 was missing on the list.

He said: “If they probe all the past service chiefs, then he cannot escape. But our observation is that those who were there before him we cannot find their names among those to be probed. Why is Dambazzau’s name missing in the list of those to be probed?”

“Let the probe be holistic and nobody would complain about the probe but what we don’t support selective probe under any guise.  If you want to engage in probe, go ahead and do it; but you must involve all the people who are involved. This is my contribution on the matter,” he said.

There is a major controversy over President Muhammadu Buhari’s latest decision to shield his kinsmen from the ongoing arms probe, while those implicated from the South, have been penciled down for prosecution.

It could be recalled, that the Presidential Investigative Committee on Arms Procurement, had on Thursday, July 14, submitted it’s third interim report, which detailed how former senior military officers, political appointees and private individuals, allegedly cornered security funds into their pockets.

Post-Nigeria, had reported that Buhari on approving the report, spared ?the former Chief of Army Staff, and current Minister of Interior, Abdulrahman Danbazau, while 2 other Chiefs of Army Staff, Lt General Azubike Ihejirika and Lt. General Kenneth Minimah, were asked to be investigated among several others from the South.

Also, Ayodele Fayose, the Ekiti State governor, asked Nigerians to demand for the release of the authentic report of the Committee on Audit of Defence Equipment Procurement in the Nigerian Armed Forces. While asking the President to stop acting like the grandfather of corruption?, ?Fayose, described the claim by the Federal Government that the probe panel only looked into procurement and contracts awarded by the military between 2011-2015, because documents regarding procurement from 2007 to 2010 were not available, as a clear indication of his support for corruption.

Comments (1)

  • Jul 21, 2016 at 9:39 am Bokomo

    Thanks for this revelation . Who the panel will indict is long decided. What we made to see as a panel is a big deception . I personally doubt the integrity of mr. President for his growing cover ups .

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