President Muhammadu Buhari yesterday ordered further investigation of two former Chiefs of Army Staff, Lt.-Gen. Azubuike Ihejirika and Lt.-Gen. Kenneth Minimah over their roles in the procurement of arms in the fight against Boko Haram insurgency.
The duo are part of the 30 persons and 24 firms recommended for further investigation by a presidential panel, set up by Buhari to investigate the purchase of arms in the country between 2007 and 2015. Also mentioned for further investigation are a former Accountant General of the Federation, Jonah Otunla, 27 others and two firms.
A statement from the investigative panel last night indicated that the panel found several discrepancies in the award of contracts by the affected persons, whereby some contracts were paid for, under supplied or not supplied and even in some cases, have no history of performance. That statement, signed by AVM Jon Ode (Rtd), President of the Presidential Committee on the Audit of Defence Equipment Procurement in the Armed Forces 2007-2015, said that Buhari has approved the investigation.
He said: “The approval followed the Third Interim Report of the Presidential Committee on the Audit of Defence Equipment, which was released on Thursday (yesterday).
“Among those to be investigated are 18 serving and retired military personnel, 12 serving and retired public officials and 24 Chief Executive Officers of companies involved in the procurement. All were either accounting officers or played key roles in the Nigerian Army procurement activities during the period under review.
“Those listed for further investigation include two former Chief of Army Staff, Lt.-Gen. O.A. Ihejirika (Rtd) and Lt.-Gen. K.T.J. Minimah (Rtd); former Minister of State for Foreign Affairs II, Dr. Nurudeen Mohammed and three former Permanent Secretaries in the Ministry of Defence – Mr. Bukar Goni Aji, Mr. Haruna Sanusi and Me. E.O, Oyemomi.
“Also, the CEOs to be investigated include Col. Olu Bamgbose (Rtd) of Bamverde Ltd; Mr. Amity Sade of Doiyatec Comms Ltd and DYI Global Services and Mr. Edward Churchill of Westgate Global Trust Ltd.”
The committee further said that the total amount spent for procurement and operations within the period were N185, 843,052,564.30 and $685,349,692.49.
The statement said further: “It found that the Nigerian Army contracts, awarded by the Ministry of Defence for the period under review, were often awarded withoutsignificant input from end-user (Nigerian Army) and to vendors who lacked the necessary technical competence”.
”As an example, three contracts, with a total value of N5,940,000,000, 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 KM-38 Twin Hull Boats and six units of 4X4 ambulances fitted with radios. The committee found that the two companies collected N5,103,500,000, representing 86 per cent of the total value of the three contracts worth N5,940,000,000.00, but only performed to the tune of N2,992,183,705.31.”
The statement further said that the committee also found that a contract worth N169,916,849.77 for the procurement of 53 Armoured Vehicles Spare Parts, with 90 days completion time, is yet to be completed five years after. “In another instance, two 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 three 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 five years after,” he said. The report stated that between April 29, 2005 and October 19, 2010, the MOD awarded two 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 Nigerian Army 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,” Ode stated.
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. With respect to contracts awarded directly by the Nigerian Army, the Committee found that many of the contracts were characterized by lack of due process, in breach of extant procurement regulations and tainted by cor-rupt practices.
It said: “With respect to contracts awarded directly by the Nigerian Army, the committee found that many of the contracts were characterized by ”lack of due process, in 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 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, analysis of the various bank accounts of the two companies showed transfers to individuals related to the then Chief of Army Staff,” the report said. The report also decried the procurement of near obsolete equipment and inflated contracts.
“Between September 19, 2013 and September 11, 2014, the Army awarded contracts to DICON amounting to N4,329,985,000 for the procurement of Igirigi and Spartan APCs; with arms and ammunition.
The contract for the procurement of 40 units of NSVT Heavy Machine Gun with accessories and 10 units of Igirigi APCs were subcontracted to Kennedy Logistics Ltd and Streit Group FZE at the cost of $1,597,500 and $1,850,000 respectively.
“The contracts were awarded to DICON at the cost of $2,237,000.00 and $3,450,000.00, resulting in price differentials of $781,000.00 (33%) and $1,600,000.00 (46.4%) respectively.
“Furthermore, the postdelivery 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 de-
stroyed by RPG fire, killing a Colonel inside. As at May 13, 2016, only one of the 10 Igirigi APCs deployed to the North East was serviceable. “It was also found out that following a request by the ONSA on May 13, 2013, the government released N1,340,000,000 for OPERATION BOYONA, aimed at dislodging terrorist camps along the borders with Cameroon, Chad and Niger. In August 2013, ONSA requested and got approval for additional N2,000,000,000.
However, DHQ and the Services confirmed non-receipt of any additional funds for Operation BOYONA. “In March 2014, the ONSA made a case for the release of N1,000,000,000.00 to sustain offensive operations against Boko Haram insurgents. Although the amount was approved and released, the Committee could not establish the utilisation of the funds.
“Similarly, in January 2015, the then Honourable Minister of State Foreign Affairs (HMSFA II) requested for 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.
“The committee observed that contracts awarded to SEI and its two associated companies, APC Axial Ltd and HKSawki 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. One of the new equipment SEI procured for the Nigerian Army from Ukraine was BTR-4E APC.
However, according to the designers of the equipment, “some of the products sold to Nigeria were actually among 42 units designed for Iraq which subsequently rejected them due to poor performance rating.”
The Committee also noted that between September 3, 2014 and 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,” the report stated.
The committee observed breaches of laws and regulations on payments of Withholding 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 FIRS should liaise with the Nigerian Army to recover all outstanding payments of WHT. The Committee’s interactions with the field operators revealed that although the platforms and ammunition procured for the Nigerian Army were deployed for the NE operations, most of them were over aged or expired and support spares were insufficient or completely not available.