Arms deal: Tension as Buhari orders probe of ex-CDS Badeh, two Air Chiefs, 15 others
President Muhammadu Buhari yesterday gave the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) the green light to establish the scope of the culpability of the immediate past Chief of Defence Staff (CDS), 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,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.
The companies have been traced to associates and relatives of some of the suspects.
A committee on the audit of defence equipment has confirmed that Nigeria spent about $2billion and another N29billion on NAF procurement alone during the period in question.
Indicted persons may be prosecuted after the EFCC probe.
Malam Garba Shehu,Senior Special Assistant (Media and Publicity) to the President, gave the names of those to be investigated as:
(1) Air Chief Marshal A.S. Badeh (Rtd)
(2) Air Marshal M.D. Umar (Rtd)
(3) Air Marshal A.N. Amosu (Rtd)
(4) Maj-Gen. E.R. Chioba (Rtd), former Director General, Defence Industry Corporation of Nigeria (DICON)
(5) AVM I.A. Balogun (Rtd)
(6) AVM A.G. Tsakr (Rtd)
(7) AVM A.G. Idowu (Rtd)
(8) AVM A.M. Mamu (NAF Chief of Administration)
(9) AVM O.T. Oguntoyinbo (former Director of Production, Defence Headquarters)
(10) AVM T. Omenyi (MD, NAF Holdings)
(11) AVM J.B. Adigun (former Chief of Accounts and Budgeting)
(12) AVM R.A. Ojuawo (Air Force Tactical Air Command, Makurdi)
(13) AVM J.A. Kayode-Beckley (Director, Armament Research in Air Force Research and Development Centre)
(12) Air Cdre S.A. Yushau (Rtd)
(13) Air Cdre A.O. Ogunjobi
(14) Air Cdre G.M.D. Gwani
(15) Air Cdre S.O. Makinde
(16) Air Cdre A.Y. Lassa
(16) Col N. Ashinze (Special Military Assistant to former NSA Sambo Dasuki)
(17) Lt Col. M.S. Dasuki (Rtd).
Sources said yesterday that there was disquiet in the Armed Forces over the alleged involvement of the officers in the arms deals.
There were indications last night that all the affected serving officers will have to step down from their command positions pending the conclusion of investigation.
Most of them might be taken into custody for grilling by the EFCC.
Only Col. N. Ashinze (Special Military Assistant to the ex-National Security Adviser, Col. Sambo Dasuki) has been detained by the EFCC in the last two weeks
The anti-graft agency has also grilled the Alex Badeh Jr., the son of the former Chief of Defence Staff in connection with the arms scandal.
Only on Wednesday,the EFCC sealed off a building in Abuja said to belong to Badeh as part of the investigation of his involvement.
Similarly, the EFCC will probe the following companies and their directors for alleged fundamental breaches associated with the procurements by the Office of the National Security Adviser (ONSA) and the Nigerian Air Force (NAF):
(1) Messrs Societe D’ Equipments Internationaux
(2) Himma Aboubakar
(3) Aeronautical Engineering and Technical Services Limited
(4) Messrs Syrius Technologies
(5) Dr Theresa A. Ittu
(6) Sky Experts Nig Ltd
(7)Omenyi Ifeanyi Tony
(8) Huzee Nig Ltd
(9) GAT Techno Dynamics Ltd
(10) Gbujie Peter Obie
(11)Onuri Samuel Ugochukwu
(12) Spacewebs Interservices Ltd
(13) Oguntoyinbo Tayo
(14) Oguntoyinbo Funmi.
(15) Delfina Oil and Gas Ltd
(16) Chief Jacobs Bola
(17) Mono Marine Corporation Nig Ltd
(18) Geonel Intergrated Services Ltd
(20) Sachi Felicia
(20) Mudaki Polycarp
(21) Wolfgang Reinl.
Malam Shehu said that the President took the decision to investigate the former service chiefs and other based on the report of the audit committee which,according to him, identified such breaches as 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.
He said the procurement processes were “arbitrarily carried out and generally characterized by irregularities and fraud.”
“In many cases, the procured items failed to meet the purposes they were procured for, especially the counter insurgency efforts in the North East,” he said.
Citing instances, Shehu said: ”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 US Dollars ($930,500,690.00) 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.
“Additionally, some of the award letters contained misleading delivery dates suggesting fraudulent intent in the award process.”
Continuing,he said the observed discrepancies were 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 ($136,944,000.00).
“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 US Dollars ($30m).
“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,” it added.
The committee also established that ONSA funded the procurement of four used Alpha-Jets for the NAF at the cost of Seven Million, One Hundred and Eighty Thousand US Dollars ($7,180,000.00).
“However, it was confirmed that only two of the Alpha-Jet aircraft were ferried to Nigeria after cannibalization 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.
“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 committee also said that 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 Thirty Three Million US Dollars ($33m) and was funded by ONSA.
It 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 US Dollars ($6m) averagely.
It said: “The committee observed that the radars were delivered without the vital component of Identification Friend or Foe (IFF) that distinguishes between own and adversary aircraft, which has significantly degraded the operational capabilities of the NAF in the North East.
“It was further observed that the sum of Three Million, Three Hundred Thousand US Dollars ($3.3m) 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 US Dollars ($2m) 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.
The panel also established that between September 2009 and May 2015, the NAF expended about Fifteen Billion Naira (N15bn) on the maintenance of its Alpha-Jets, C-130H aircraft and Mi-24V/35P helicopters.
“Out of this amount, Four Billion, Four Hundred and Two Million, Six Hundred and Eighty Seven Thousand, Five Hundred and Sixty Nine Naira, Forty One Kobo (N4,402,687,569.41) was paid out for contracts not executed.
“It was also observed that in carrying out these maintenance activities, contracts worth over Two Billion, Five Hundred Million Naira (N2.5bn) were awarded to Syrius Technologies, a Ukrainian company that was not registered in Nigeria.
“Regrettably, in spite of these expenditures, the status of NAF fleet remained operationally appalling as only three Alpha-Jets, 2 C-130H and one each of Mi-24V and Mi-35P were serviceable as at 28 May, 2015.
It also said that NAF awarded contracts to DICON in October 2013 for the supply of weapons and ammunition at the cost of Five Hundred and Ninety Nine Million, One Hundred and Eighteen Thousand Naira (N599,118,000.00).
Only two of the seven items contracted, the committee said, were delivered to NAF while the outstanding five items remained undelivered despite repeated requests to DICON.
The committee also found that the delivered ammunition were about 40 years old, thereby casting doubts on their shelf life.
“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.
The committe, the statement said, uncovered insider dealings by military officers in procurement activities undertaken by the ONSA and the NAF.
“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 have 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 Six Billion, Two Hundred and Fifty Million Naira (N6,250,000,000.00) and Five Million US Dollars ($5m) respectively.
“Furthermore, 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 cross transferred about Five Hundred Million Naira (N500m) between a NAF company, Aeronautical Engineering and Technical Services Limited, Sky Experts 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 the sum of Six Hundred and Forty Three Billion Naira (N643bn) and Two Billion, One Hundred Million US Dollars ($2.1bn) interventions were received for defence procurements by DHQ and the Services between 2007 and 2015.
“In continuation of its assignment, the committee has so far established that the nation spent about Twenty Nine Billion Naira (N29bn) and Two Billion US Dollars ($2bn) on NAF procurement activities alone.”
A top official of the EFCC said yesterday that a formal notice “has been received from the presidency on the need to investigate the affected retired and serving officers. We got the reference from the presidency on Friday.
“We will invite and arrest some of these officers as may be applicable. Already, we have quizzed the son of the ex-CDS in the last few days.
“All the suspects have been placed on watch-list; they cannot travel out of the country.”
A top military officer, who spoke in confidence, said: “All the serving officers have to step down temporarily from their command positions until they have been cleared by the EFCC.
“In line with military tradition in this type of circumstance, their movement is also restricted to the country.
“If it is necessary, they might be isolated in some guest houses to ease their movement to and from the EFCC. Where the EFCC feels that any of them should be detained in its custody, we will hand them over accordingly.”
Responding to a question, the source added: “There is disquiet in the military, but it was more of shock than anything you may think of. Some of these officers are fine gentlemen and their implications jolted many officers and men.”
IHEJIRIKA’S FALSE ACCUSATIONS (VANGUARD 29/8/14)
Ihejirika recalled recent allegations that he took away N48 billion, an amount of money he said is still in the coffers of the Ministry of Defence and can be verified by anybody, adding that he was not surprised that this allegation is coming from the likes of El-Rufai who started the campaign.
“The likes of El-Rufai have been supporting Boko Haram. In fact, El-Rufai and his likes are the same group of people that ensured the army did not get the requested equipment to deal with this menace once and for all, as they used their cohorts to tell the government that procuring modern equipment was not necessary.”