After 14 months of painstaking work, the Presidential Committee on the Audit of Defence Equipment Procurement in the Nigerian Armed Forces (2007-2015) has submitted its final report to President Muhammadu Buhari.
It was gathered from highly placed sources that Buhari received the final report at the presidential villa on Sunday from the Air Vice Marshal J.O.N Ode (rtd)- led panel.
It was authoritatively gathered that the report, a copy of which was made available to the National Security Adviser (NSA), Maj.-Gen. Babagana Monguno (rtd), indicted some influential officials of the administration.
Also indicted in the report, according to sources, are former ministers of defence, senior military officers, a permanent secretary and top officials of the Ministry of Defence.
A former Chief of Army Staff, an erstwhile Chief of Defence Intelligence (CDI) and some former service chiefs were indicted in the final report.
Some firms, which executed contracts with the Office of the National Security Adviser (ONSA) and the Ministry of Defence, were also recommended for prosecution by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) for various infractions.
The probe cut across the Ministry of Defence, Nigerian Army (NA), Nigerian Navy (NN), and Nigerian Air Force (NAF).
One of the sources, who spoke on the final report, said: “I can reveal to you that the 13-man panel, which was set up in August last year, submitted its report to the C-in-C on Sunday.
“A copy of the report was given to the NSA, having regard to the fact that he inaugurated the panel.
“The report is very weighty, as it indicted and recommended for further investigation, a very officials in the current government, a former minister, who was very influential in the last administration, and a permanent secretary.
“Some top officials of a strategic ministry were also indicted and recommended for further probe by the EFCC.”
The source added that recommendations were made for the recovery of huge sums of money from individuals and firms indicted. It was learnt that some top government officials were indicted for “sharing” money meant for procurement of equipment among themselves.
The arms panel established that the procurement processes were arbitrarily carried out and generally characterised by irregularities and fraud. A highly placed source said the panel had interrogated some of the indicted officials, serving and retired officers, and some contractors. The Federal Government is expected to release the final report any moment from now.
Three months after he assumed office last year, Buhari had inaugurated a 13-man panel to probe procurement of arms and related military contracts, between 2007 and 2015.
Before the final report,the panel had turned in two interim reports, which indicted serving and retired military officers. Before the final report, the 13-man panel had released two interim reports, wherein it indicted a former NSA, Col. Sambo Dasuki (rtd); former Chief of Defence Staff (CDS), Air Chief Marshal Alex Badeh (rtd); former Chiefs of Army Staff (COAS), Lt.-Gen. Azubike Ihejirika (rtd), and Lt.- Gen. Kenneth Minimah (rtd); and ex-Chiefs of Air Staff (CAS), Air Marshal M.D Umar (rtd), and Air Marshal Adesola Amosu (rtd).Other serving and retired senior officers earlier indicted were: Maj.- Gen. E.R. Chioba (rtd), 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 and AVM R.A. Ojuawo. Also indicted were: AVM J.A. Kayode-Beckley, Air Cdre S.A. Yushau (rtd), Air Cdre A.O. Ogunjobi, Air Cdre GMD Gwani, Air Cdre S.O. Makinde, Air Cdre A.Y. Lassa, Col. N. Ashinze and Lt Col. M.S. Dasuki (Rtd). Many contractors, former ministers and government officials are facing prosecution in respect of the arms scandal. The panel had said at the time that:
“The procurement processes were arbitrarily carried out and generally characterised 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.
“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 $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.” A statement by presidential spokesman, Mr. Femi Adesina, had said the Ode-led panel “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.”