Military equipment fraud: EFCC probes Dambazau, Buratai, other ex-military generals

  • Presidential committee’s report indicts minister, COAS, others

Some top officials of the President Muhammadu Buhari led administration may have come under the searchlight of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, as the anti-graft agency opened investigation on a number of serving military top-brass and retired generals over alleged fraud in the procurement of defence equipment.
Our correspondent gathered that among the top functionaries of the Buhari government being investigated by EFCC were the President’s long-time friend, who is also the current Minister of Interior, Gen. Abdulrahman Bello Dambazzau (rtd.) and the serving Chief of Army Staff, General Turkur Buratai.
Dambazau was appointed Chief of Army Staff by late President Umaru Yar’Adua and served between 2008 and 2010.
Other former military top-brass being investigated include the immediate past Chief of Army Staff, General Kenneth Minimah, and his predecessor, General Azubuike Ihejirika.
Their investigation by the EFCC, which began on Tuesday, is coming on the heels of their alleged indictment by the report of the Presidential Committee on Defence Equipment Procurement.
The members of the committee, who are said to be at the concluding stage of their work, are expected to present their report to the President in few weeks.
Our correspondent learnt that the committee, in the course of its investigation, uncovered a lot of fraudulent practices allegedly perpetrated by the serving and retired military topbrass, including the outright stealing of money meant for the purchase of equipment for the army, inflation of contracts, diversion of money meant for soldiers’ welfare and for the rehabilitation of barracks as well as other military facilities.
The committee, it was also gathered, unearthed series of shady deals and corrupt practices allegedly perpetrated by the officers involved in the scandal.
In the wake of the investigations in March 2016, the committee, predominantly made up of retired military officers, summoned 292 retired and serving top military officers, including Buratai, Dambazau, Ihejirika and Minimah.
In August last year, Buhari directed the National Security Adviser, Mohammed Mongonu, to set up a 13-member Investigative Committee on the procurement of hardware in the Armed Forces from 2007.
The Special Adviser to the President on Media and Publicity, Femi Adesina, also disclosed that the Investigative Committee’s mandate was to identify irregularities and make recommendations for streamlining the procurement process in the Armed Forces.
A member of the committee, who spoke with our correspondent on condition of anonymity, however, said, “Several top serving and retired army officers have been indicted.”