From FRED ITUA, Abuja
TWO days after the Federal Government released its interim report on alleged cases of corruption in the purchase of arms between 2007 and 2015, which indicted several serving and former military officers, as well as companies, a civil society organization, Probity Watch in Defence of Institutions, PWDI, has accused the government of engaging in selective justice.
In a statement released yesterday in Abuja and signed by its coordinator, Danladi Abbas, the organization queried why a former Chief of Army Staff, General Abdulrahman Dambazzau who preceded the two named in the report, Lt.-Gen. O.A. Ihejirika (rtd) and Lt. Gen. K.T.J. Minimah (rtd), was neither mentioned for commendation nor blame in the report.
But Minister of Information and Culture, Mr. Lai Mohammed has boldly come out to defend the action of the Federal Government, maintaining that the said report was not doctored as claimed in some quarters In a statement, the Minister said: “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.”
The PWDI statement continued: 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) and others. According to the Committee, the total amount spent for procurement and operations within the period were N185, 843,052,564.30 and $685,349,692.49. Curiously, the name of the Chief of Army Staff, General Abdulrahman Dambazzau who preceded the two was neither mentioned for commendation nor blame.”
Picking holes from the dust raised by the minister’s statement, the organization said General Dambazzau took over from General Luka Yusuf in 2008 and left in September 2010.
“Are we saying that during his almost three years as Chief of Army Staff, documentations were neither properly done nor well preserved (when done)?
Or that nothing was procured? If things were bought, were they done verbally? That itself would be a malfeasance. Were they eaten up by Wharf rats or consumed by unrecorded inferno?
“We are aware that the report presented to the President for approval was a summary distilled from an enlarged report.
We challenge the Minister of Information to publish that volume and it’s appendix. Even in that, the tenure of his colleague in the Interior Ministry as Chief of Army Staff was to account for a little over N500 million traced to that period.
He was not liable as the Chief but the era was, though this did not even reflect in the statement issued late Thursday night. Is it not laughable?
“The irony is that Generals Azubuike Ihejirika and Kenneth Minimah have in-between them over 30 items of misdemeanors slammed against them, ranging from alleged ‘misappropriation, misapplication and negligence’. What about all the petitions that were written, sent in and acknowledged about this 2008/2010 regime at the Army headquarters? We are aware there were about 26 petitions last year alone. We are not talking about those preceding that period, those written against him immediately he left office,” the rights organization queries.