From Molly Kilete. Abuja
THE Presidential Committee on the Audit of Defence Equipment Procurement in the Armed Forces (2007-2015) has concluded arrangement to beam its searchlight on the Ministry of Defence (MoD).
Already, the committee has dispatched a letter to the Head the Civil Service of the Federation, Mrs Winifred Oyo-Ita, to intimate her with names of civil servants to be investigated, Daily Sun gathered.
The aim is to ensure that the affected officers are released to appear before the committee when the need arises.
The probe which will commence any moment from now, according to Daily Sun sources, was necessitated by the huge amount of fraud and illegal deals that took place in the ministry charged with the responsibilities of overseeing activities of the Nigerian armed forces.
As a result, the probe into arms procurement by the Nigerian Navy may have to wait until that of the MoD is concluded, because as one of the source puts it, “the navy’s case is not as sleazy as that of the Nigerian Air Force, Army and the MoD; so they may want to start with the MoD after which they would move to the navy which will conclude the investigation.”
The panel has already submitted three reports.
The source said the role played by the leadership of the ministry in the procurement of military hardwares may have prompted some military officers involved in the illegal deal to find the environment conducive to participate.
Most of the contracts were said to have been awarded to people who have no business and experience in arms and ammunitions, which made them to bring in fake and substandard weapons. The development led to the untimely death of many armed forces personnel fighting insurgency in the North east.
The complete report of the committee obtained by Daily Sun in Abuja, showed that the MoD is being investigated for contracted it awarded for the supply of arms between April 2005 and 2015.
Some of the contracts awarded include the one to Progress Limited for the supply of 42 units of BTR-3U APCs and spare parts to the Nigerian Army between 29 April 2005, 42 units of the APCs, where only 26, were delivered, procurement of major spare parts for the repairs of the APCs at the cost of $162,089.84 among several other contracts running into billions of naira.
The investigative committee which mandate is to identify irregularities and make recommendations for streamlining the procurement process in the Armed Forces has submitted three interim reports.
Daily Sun exclusively reported last week that a second interim report was submitted to the president last Monday while third interim report was submitted on Thursday.
In it third report, the panel recommended investigation of two former Chiefs of Army Staff (COAS), Lt.-Gen Azubuike Ihejirika and Lt.-Gen. Kenneth Minimah; a 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 for corrupt practices.
They were indicted by the committee set up to investigate procurement of arms to fight insurgency in the North East.
The committee, in its report, said N381 billion was expended without any procurement to show for the expenditure.
In the Air Vice Marshall Jon Ode (retd) committee report, it was discovered that a contract worth N169,916,849.77 for the procurement of 53 Armoured Vehicles Spare Parts, which had 90 days completion time, is yet to be completed, five years after.
Besides, in its investigation, the committee said it discovered that the total amount spent for procurement and operations between 2007- 2015 were N185,843,052,564.30 and $685,349,692.49.
The committee also said in its report that most of the procurement lacked due process.
On the heels of the committee’s recommendation, President Muhammadu Buhari has approved further investigation of those involved, after the committee found a number of irregularities in the contract awards.
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 (CEOs) involved in the procurement.