President Muhammadu Buhari yesterday ordered the arrest of former National Security Adviser (NSA), Col. Sambo Dasuki (rtd), who has been under house arrest for almost two weeks, over the misappropriation of billions of dollars meant for the procurement of arms to prosecute the war against terrorism.
The order for the arrest was also extended to other persons involved in the scam.
The directive followed the release of an interim report by the 13-man presidential committee set up by Buhari to investigate the procurement of equipment for the Armed Forces and Defence sector from 2007 to date.
A statement issued by the president’s media aide Femi Adesina said though the committee was yet to complete its work, its interim report unearthed several illicit and fraudulent financial transactions.
As part of the findings, the committee has 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, both in local and foreign currencies.
So far the total extra budgetary interventions articulated by the committee is N643,817,955,885.18, while the foreign currency component is to the tune of $2,193,815,000.83.
These amounts excluded grants from the state governments and funds collected by the Department of State Services (DSS) and police.
It was observed that in spite of this huge financial intervention, very little was expended to support defence procurement.
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 the insurgency in the North East. The committee also discovered that payments to the tune of N3,850,000,000.00 were made to a single company by the former NSA without documented evidence of contractual agreements or fulfillment of tax obligations to the Federal Government of Nigeria.
Further findings revealed that between March 2012 and March 2015, the erstwhile NSA, Lt. Col. MS Dasuki (rtd) awarded fictitious and phantom contracts to the tune of N2,219,188,609.50, $1,671,742,613.58 and €9,905,477.00.
The contracts which were said to be for the purchase of four Alpha Jets, 12 helicopters, bombs and ammunition which 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 unascertained purposes, without any contract documents to explain the transactions.
The findings made so far are extremely worrying considering that interventions were granted within the same period that Nigerian troops fighting the 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 for the purpose they were meant, thousands of needless Nigerian deaths would have been avoided. Furthermore, the ridicule Nigeria has faced in the international community would have been avoided. It is worrisome and disappointing that those entrusted with the security of this great nation were busy using proxies to siphon the national treasury, while innocent lives were wasted daily.
In light of these findings, President Muhammadu Buhari has directed that the relevant organizations arrest and bring to book, all individuals who have been found complicit in these illegal and fraudulent acts.