President Muhammadu Buhari on Tuesday received the interim report of the 13-man committee set up by the Office of the National Security Adviser to audit the procurement of arms and equipment in the Armed Forces and Defence sector from 2007 to date with a directive that all indicted persons be arrested and brought to book.
According to a statement on Tuesday by the Special Adviser to the President on Media and Publicity, Mr. Femi Adesina, the National Security Adviser during the administration of former President Goodluck Jonathan, Col. Sambo Dasuki (retd.), was among those indicted in the report. Among other weighty allegations by the committee, the ex-NSA awarded failed contracts totalling N482bn.
Adesina said while the committee, which was inaugurated on August 31, had yet to complete its work, its interim report unearthed several illicit and fraudulent financial transactions.
As part of the findings, the presidential spokesman said the committee analysed interventions from some organisations that provided funds to the Office of the National Security Adviser, Defence Headquarters, Army Headquarters, Naval Headquarters and Nigerian Air Force Headquarters, in both local and foreign currencies.
He disclosed that so far, the total extra budgetary interventions verified by the committee were approximately N643.817bn. He also put the foreign currency component at approximately $2.193bn. These amounts, he explained, excluded grants from the state governments and funds collected by the DSS and Police. Adesina said it was observed that in spite of this huge financial intervention, very little was expended to support defence procurement. He said:
“The committee also observed that of 513 contracts awarded at $8,356,525,184.32; N2,189,265,724,404.55 and €54,000.00; fifty-three (53) were failed contracts, amounting to $2,378,939,066.27 and N13,729,342,329.87 respectively.
“Interestingly, it was noted that the amount of foreign currency spent on failed contracts was more than double the $1bn loan that the National Assembly approved for borrowing to fight insurgency in the North-East.
“The committee also discovered that payments to the tune of three billion, eight hundred and fifty million Naira (N3,850,000,000.00) were made to a single company by the former NSA without documented evidence of contractual agreements or fulfilment of tax obligations to the FGN.
“Further findings revealed that between March 2012 and March 2015, the erstwhile NSA, Col. M.S. Dasuki (retd.), awarded fictitious and phantom contracts to the tune of N2,219,188,609.50, $1,671,742,613.58 and €9,905,477.00; totalling N333bn (at N197 to a dollar, N212.563 to a Euro).
“The contracts, which were said to be for the purchase of four Alpha Jets, 12 helicopters, bombs and ammunition were not executed and the equipment were never supplied to the Nigerian Air Force, neither are they in its inventory.
“Even more disturbing was the discovery that out of these figures, two companies were awarded contracts to the tune of N350,000,000.00; $1,661,670,469.71 and €9,905,477.00 alone. This was without prejudice to the consistent non-performance of the companies in the previous contracts awarded”.
“Additionally, it was discovered that the former NSA directed the Central Bank of Nigeria to transfer the sum of $132,050,486.97 and €9,905,473.55 to the accounts of Societe D’equipmente Internationaux in West Africa, United Kingdom and United States of America for un-ascertained purposes, without any contract documents to explain the transactions.”
The presidential spokesman added:
“The findings made so far are extremely worrying, considering that the interventions were granted within the same period that our troops, fighting insurgency in the North-East, were in desperate need of platforms, military equipment and ammunition.
“Had the funds siphoned to these non performing companies been properly used for the purpose they were meant for, thousands of needless Nigerian deaths would have been avoided. The ridicule Nigeria has faced in the international community would have been avoided.”
Adesina said it was worrisome and disappointing that those entrusted with the security of the country were busy using proxies to siphon the national treasury, while innocent lives were wasted daily.
“In the light of these findings, President Muhammadu Buhari has directed that the relevant organisations arrest and bring to book, all individuals, who have been found complicit in these illegal and fraudulent acts.”