$15bn arms deal: Panel members seek protection from Buhari
Following the suspicious death of one of them, members of the Presidential Committee on $15billion Arms Procurement are seeking protection from President Muhammadu Buhari.
The panel members might also push for a full-scale probe of how the Fleet Commander, Western Naval Command, Apapa, Rear Admiral Daniel Ikoli, died in suspicious circumstances at his residence in Lagos.
It was learnt that the team might meet next week on the type of security apparatus needed by members.
Based on the directive of the President, the National Security Adviser, Brig-Gen. Babagana Monguno, on August 24, 2015 constituted the panel to look into the procurement of hardware and munitions in the Armed Forces from 2007 till date.
The assignment led to the investigation of a former National Security Adviser, Col. Sambo Dasuki; a former Chief of Defence Staff, Air Chief Marshal Alex Badeh(rtd); two former Chiefs of Air Staff, Air Marshals M.D. Umar and A.N. Amosu (rtd); 15 retired and serving senior military officers; 22 companies and many aides of the suspects.
Some of the affected officers are already standing trial in courts.
But barely a few months after the panel was technically disbanded, one of its key members, Rear Admiral Daniel Ikoli, died in what a source described as suspicious.”
A source among the panel members said: “We are disturbed by the questionable circumstances under which Ikoli purportedly died. We want a full-scale investigation of the death.
“Technically, the manner in which Ikoli purportedly died has left many questions unanswered. We are leaving the police to do its job.But we are also going to approach the President to provide security for all members of the panel. Apart from being under tremendous pressure during the assignment, there were obvious threats too.
“Most of our members are feeling unsafe; we need presidential intervention because our risk exposure is too high. There is no doubt that corruption will fight back and we will certainly be targeted.
“You can imagine what one of us, Mr. Ibrahim Magu, the Acting Chairman of the EFCC, is going through partly because of the report of the committee.”
Responding to a question, the source added: “Since the assignment was completed, there has been lighter security apparatchik around members unlike when they were on duty.”
Another committee member said: “While some members of the committee are retired, some are still serving in various units of the Armed Forces.
“The state ought to design a special protection module for members of the panel. We did our best to serve the nation, but even our colleagues are taking it personal as if we were all out to destroy the military”.
Members of the panel were AVM J.O.N. Ode (rtd.); R/Adm. J.A. Aikhomu (rtd.); R/Adm. E. Ogbor (rtd.); Brig.-Gen. L. Adekagun (rtd.); Brig.-Gen. M. Aminu-Kano (rtd.); Brig.-Gen. N. Rimtip (rtd.); Cdre T.D. Ikoli; Air Cdre U. Mohammed (rtd.); Air Cdre I. Shafi’i; Col. A.A. Ariyibi; Gp Capt C.A. Oriaku (rtd.); and the Acting Chairman of the EFCC, Mr. Ibrahim Magu. The panel has Brig-Gen Y.I. Shalangwa as its Secretary.
Some of the highlights of the findings of the committee were as follows: “The breaches identified by the Audit Committee include non-specification of procurement costs, absence of contract agreements, award of contracts beyond authorised thresholds, transfer of public funds for unidentified purposes and general non-adherence to provisions of the Public Procurement Act.
.”Furthermore, the procurement processes were arbitrarily carried out and generally characterized by irregularities and fraud.
“In many cases, the procured items failed to meet the purposes they were procured for, especially the counter-insurgency efforts in the North-East.
“Between January 2014 and February 2015, NAF awarded 10 contracts totalling Nine Hundred and Thirty Million, Five Hundred Thousand, Six Hundred and Ninety US Dollars ($930,500,690.00).
“Letters of award and end user certificates for all the contracts issued by NAF and ONSA respectively did not reflect the contract sums. Rather, these were only found in the vendor’s invoices, all dated 19 March 2015. “
“Additionally, some of the award letters contained misleading delivery dates suggesting fraudulent intent in the award process. The observed discrepancies are in clear contravention of extant procurement regulations.
“The SEI contracts included procurement of two used Mi-24V Helicopters instead of the recommended Mi-35M series at the cost of One Hundred and Thirty Six Million, Nine Hundred and Forty Four Thousand US Dollars ($136,944,000.00).
“However, it was confirmed that the helicopters were excessively priced and not operationally air worthy at the time of delivery. A brand new unit of such helicopters goes for about Thirty Million US Dollars ($30m). Furthermore, the helicopters were delivered without rotor blades and upgrade accessories.
“Additionally, the helicopters were undergoing upgrade while being deployed for operation in the North East without proper documentation. It was further established that as at date, only one of the helicopters is in service while the other crashed and claimed the lives of two NAF personnel.
“The committee established that ONSA also funded the procurement of 4 used Alpha-Jets for the NAF at the cost of Seven Million, One Hundred and Eighty Thousand US Dollars ($7,180,000.00). However, it was confirmed that only 2 of the Alpha-Jet aircraft were ferried to Nigeria after cannibalization of engines from NAF fleet.”