An investigative panel set up by President Muhammadu Buhari to audit procurement of arms by and for the Nigerian military between 2007 until he assumed office in 2015 submitted another interim report on Thursday.
The Committee on Audit of Defence Equipment Procurement in the Nigerian Armed Forces completed the first of its piecemeal reports in November 2015 in which a former National Security Adviser, Sambo Dasuki, was indicted for allegedly mismanaging over N13 billion budgeted for procurement of arms.
Mr. Buhari ordered immediate arrest of Mr. Dasuki as recommended by the 13-member committee and he had since remained in detention amid disputes about how he should be prosecuted.
In February 2016, the committee, which consists of individuals pooled from mainly military or security background, visited military facilities across the country to carry out a physical examination of military weaponry and equipment and verify if new deliveries were taken, how they were purchased and their quality.
The panel then found over a dozen former military chiefs culpable in fraudulent arms deal within the period under review.
A former Chief of Defence Staff, Alex Badeh, and Adesola Amosu, a former Chief of Air Staff, were subsequently indicted. They are facing trial in various high courts.
The report submitted to President Buhari on Thursday is third in the series, and it uncovered how ex-political appointees, private individuals and former military chiefs, including two erstwhile Chiefs of Army Staff, were suspected culpable in alleged fraudulent diversion of funds meant for arms procurement.
Azubuike Ihejirika and Kenneth Minimah, who both served under President Goodluck Jonathan, were recommended for further investigation by the committee.
Critics said the panel indicted a close ally of Mr. Buhari and the current Minister of Interior, Abdulrahman Dambazau, but that the administration compelled the committee to have his name removed before publishing the report.
The government denied the allegations.
As supporters and opponents argued over the impact the alleged protection of Mr. Dambazau would have on Buhari government’s much-avowed zero-tolerance for corruption, PREMIUM TIMES looked at the 10 biggest revelations from the latest arms panel findings.
1) Receiving big to deliver little:
The committee, led by Jon Ode, a retired Air Vice Marshal, found that, “3 contracts with a total value of N5,940,000,000.00 were awarded to DYI Global Services Ltd and Doiyatec Comms Nig Ltd (owned by the same individuals) for the procurement of military hardware including 20 units of K-38 Twin Hull Boats and 6 units of 4 x 4 Ambulances fitted with radios.
“The Committee found that the 2 companies collected N5,103,500,000.00 representing 86% of the total value of the 3 contracts worth N5,940,000,000.00, but only performed to the tune of N2,992,183,705.31.”
2) Inconclusive delivery:
In another instance, 2 contracts were awarded to Baram International Nigeria Limited, amounting to N420,726,799.20 for the procurement of 53 Armoured Vehicles Spare Parts at the cost of N169,916,849.77 and that of Ballistic Vests, Night Vision Binoculars and 3 Unmanned Aerial Vehicles at the cost of N250,809,949.50. Sadly, the contract worth N169,916,849.77 with 90 days completion time is yet to be completed 5 years after.
3) ‘International embarrassment’:
Similarly, between 29 April 2005 and 19 October 2010, the MOD (Ministry of Defence) awarded 2 contracts to Progress Limited for the supply of 42 units of BTR-3U Armoured Personnel Carriers and spare parts for the Nigerian Army.
However, neither the MOD nor the NA could provide the contract agreements to ascertain the cost of the APCs. Although 26 of the APCs were delivered in 2007 and immediately deployed for Peace Keeping Operations in Sudan, the APCs scandalously broke down on induction.
The Committee observed that the APCs did not meet the operational requirement for the Army, caused Nigeria international embarrassment and deprived her appropriate reimbursement from the United Nations.
4) Circumventing due process:
With respect to contracts awarded directly by the Nigerian Army, the Committee found that many of the contracts were characterised by lack of due process, breach of extant procurement regulations and tainted by corrupt practices.
In this regard, a review of the procurement carried out by Chok Ventures Ltd and Integrated Equipment Services Ltd established that between March 2011 and December 2013, the two companies exclusively procured various types of Toyota and Mitsubishi vehicles worth over N3,000,000,000.00 for the Nigerian Army without any competitive bidding.
Though the Committee found no credible evidence of delivery of the vehicles, the vendors were fully paid based on job completion certificate authenticated by the then Chief of Logistics.
Also, analyses of the various banks accounts of the two companies showed transfers to individuals related to the then Chief of Army Staff.
5) A brave colonel paid the ultimate price for the greed of his superiors:
Furthermore, the post- delivery Technical Inspection Reports revealed that the APCs were unsuitable for the North East operation. However, sequel to the deployment of the APCs in the North East, one was destroyed by RPG fire, killing a Colonel inside.
As at 13 May 2016, only one of the 10 Igirigi APCs deployed to the North East was serviceable.
6) Double jeopardy for troops attached to Operation Boyona:
It was also found out that following a request by the ONSA on 13 May 2013, the Government released N1,340,000,000.00 for OPERATION BOYONA, aimed at dislodging terrorist camps along the borders with Cameroun, Chad and Niger. In August 2013, ONSA requested and got approval for additional N2,000,000,000.00. However, DHQ (Defence Headquarters) and the Services confirmed non-receipt of any additional funds for Operation BOYONA.
7) Fictitious firms as conduit for fraudulent proceeds:
Similarly, in January 2015, the then Honourable Minister of State Foreign Affairs (HMSFA II) requested N7,000,000,000.00 to urgently fund the operation of the Multi National Joint Task Force (MNJTF) in the Lake Chad Basin which was approved and released to ONSA.
However, the Committee could not ascertain the utilization of the funds from ONSA, DHQ and the Services. The returns made by ONSA to the Committee showed that about N1,500,000,000.00 was withdrawn in cash while several disbursements were made to some companies that appeared not to have any relationship with the MNJTF or any operations against Boko Haram.
8) How dollars became orphaned:
The Committee observed that contracts awarded to SEI and its two associated companies, APC Axial Ltd and HK-Sawki Nig Ltd, fell short of established norms. Between May 3, 2014 and March 2015, the ONSA mandated CBN to release various sums totalling $386,954,000.00 to SEI and the two associated companies for ‘procurement of technical equipment’, without tying the money to particular items of procurement.
Thus, the allotment of the fund was left at the discretion of the vendor without input or consultation with ONSA or the Nigerian Army.
9) When NIMASA sub places with the CBN:
The Committee also noted that between September 3, 2014 and 30 April 30, 2015, NIMASA funded accounts of the Joint Task Force Operation Pulo Shield with various sums totalling N8,542,586,798.58 purportedly to enhance operations of the Joint Task Force in the Niger Delta.
Analyses of the accounts of the Joint Task Force showed that transfers totalling N6,277,698,885.13 were made from the account. The then JTF Commander could not justify these transfers but confirmed that the sums were changed into dollars and handed over to a private citizen. Additionally, he could not account for the balance of N2,264,887,914.45
10) Looting without limit:
Finally, going by the last flag raised by the committee, it appeared there was no limit the suspected looters couldn’t go, as even accrued tax revenues were not remitted to the appropriate authorities.
The Committee observed breaches of the laws and regulations on payments of With-holding Tax (WHT) and Value Added Tax (VAT). The unremitted WHT from 2007 to 2015 amounted to about N862,962,065.99, $2,093,710.06 and €2,700.00 respectively.
However, through the intervention of the Committee, some companies remitted N109,843,495.40 to FIRS. The Committee is of the opinion that the Federal Inland Revenue Services should liaise with the Nigerian Army to recover all outstanding payments of WHT.
Culled from: http://www.premiumtimesng.com/news/headlines/207072-10-damning-revelations-latest-presidential-arms-audit-report.html