By Soni Daniel, Northern Region Editor
ABUJA — In a bid to recover stolen defence cash running into trillions of Naira, the Defence Headquarters might have started recalling no fewer than 20 Generals said to have been involved in the purchase of arms and ammunition for the country.
Competent military sources told Vanguard last night that the suspected top military officers were being detained at a military facility in Abuja and would soon be made to face the music for their roles in fleecing the nation.
Similarly, the sources hinted that key military, naval and air force officers, who had retired within the last three months, were also being recalled to face an investigating panel probing the purchase of arms for the nation since 2009 with a view to ascertaining their roles in the missing defence funds.
According to one of the sources, who spoke in confidence to our correspondent yesterday, the investigative panel, which was raised by the Chief of Army Staff, is headed by a Brigadier General, whose name was not also disclosed for security reasons.
According to a source, “I can tell you that the current leadership of the Defence institution in Nigeria has zero tolerance for corruption given the need to give Nigeria a new lease of life. All those suspected to have diverted any money meant for the armed forces are being recalled to explain their roles in arms purchase.
“As we speak, some Generals currently serving are under detention at a military facility in Abuja while some who had retired but held sensitive appointments relating to arms and logistics procurement have been recalled by an investigating panel.”
It was learnt that some of the detained top military officers might have connived with some national security officers to divert huge sums of money set aside for the procurement of vital equipment and platforms for the armed forces by acknowledging receipt of such items when none had been supplied.
The Presidency is said to have ordered the military authorities to take immediate steps to recover stolen funds allocated to them.
This followed the report of a panel raised by President Muhammadu Buhari on August 31 this year to look into defence budget and recommend the way forward for Nigeria.
In turning in its interim report, the panel raised the alarm that certain individuals saddled with the task of arms procurement for Nigeria, made away with huge sums and left the army to fight with bare hands.
The panel said that extra budgetary interventions collated by the committee was N643.8 billion while the foreign currency component was $2.2 billion.
The report indicated that the amounts excluded grants from the state governments and funds collected by the Directorate of State Services and the Police.
The statement said the committee observed that in spite of this huge financial intervention, very little was expended to support defence procurement.
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 Euros, 53 were failed contracts amounting to $2,378,939,066.27 and N13,729,342,329.87 respectively.
According to the statement, the committee also noted that the amount of foreign currency spent on failed contracts was more than double the one billion dollars loan that the National Assembly approved for borrowing to fight the insurgency in the North East.
It stated that the committee also discovered that payments to the tune of N3.850 billion were made to a single company by the former NSA without documented evidence of contractual agreements or fulfilment of tax obligations to the Federal Government.
The statement said: “Further findings revealed that between March 2012 and March 2015, the erstwhile NSA, Lt. Col. Sambo 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 Euros.
“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 Euros 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 $132,050,486.97 and 9,905,473.55 Euros 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.”