•Says, it won’t be intimidated
From Juliana Taiwo-Obalonye, Abuja
A plot by indicted contractors, retired military officers as well as some of those still in service, to use published advertisement and online news platforms to discredit the Office of the National Security Adviser (ONSA), has been uncovered, the Federal Government said.
Government has said no amount of blackmail or campaign of calumny would deter President Muhammadu Buhari’s administration from fighting corruption and going after those who looted the country.
The affected persons were among those indicted in the $2.1 billion arms deal probe involving former National Security Officer (NSA), Col. Sambo Dasuki (retd.), for which he has been arraigned.
Conference of Nigeria Political Parties (CNPP) had, in a statement on Tuesday, asked Major General Babagana Monguno (retd) to resign over alleged shady dealings he superintended at the Presidential Investigative Committee on Arms Procurement. The group said the arrest of a member of that committee by the Department of State Services (DSS) was an indictment for which he must leave office within seven days or face nationwide protests.
It noted that it was not possible that Air Commodore Umar Muhammed (retd), who was arrested by the DSS for alleged fraudulent deals involving top government officials, could have acted without Monguno’s involvement.
It stated that for claiming ignorance of the dirty deals, it implied that the NSA was lax in finding out what went on under his watch, which, it said, was worse than being part of the massive theft.
But, a top government source told newsmen in Abuja that those indicted in the arms deal were targeting Monguno in order to armtwist President Buhari into sacking him and truncate the fraud investigations of security contracts.
“Some officers, both serving and retired, are not happy with the way Gen. Monguno handled the issues of military personnel in the arms deal as well as the fraudulent contracts in his office by the previous regime. They believed that the NSA should have handled the issues in a military way and not the public embarrassment they are getting now. And I can tell you that they won’t stop at nothing to bring him down. These are very powerful people with influence and money.
“There is no amount of blackmail that will make Mr. President to allow the sleaze that took place during the last government in the office of the NSA happen again. Let them go to any level to blackmail or abuse us, it would no longer be business as usual.
“This is a classic case of corruption fighting back and a time for Nigerians to call to question the legality of the call by these individuals and groups, for the removal of the two principal officers,” the source said.
In March, the Presidency released names of more than 300 local and foreign companies and individuals, including senior military officers who were indicted over fraudulent arms contracts.
They were accused of defrauding the country of $241 million in fake contracts.
President Buhari had, last year, ordered a probe after funds meant for buying weapons to fight Boko Haram insurgents were allegedly diverted.
The report had said the indicted companies were to refund N41 billion, while it also disclosed that contracts were awarded without any contractual agreement or evidence of jobs executed.
The contracts were said to have been awarded by the office of the national security adviser from 2011 until 2015. It listed all the companies and individuals indicted, including former NSA, Sambo Dasuki, who is facing separate fraud charges linked to the arms scandal.
The committee also reported that some of the companies listed in the report were just set up for the purpose of these phantom contracts.
Apart from cash, the government had said it also seized some properties belonging to some of the indicted individuals.