•Others quizzed over N5billion ‘election operation’ fund
The army segment of the $2.1billion arms slush funds has landed 12 top army officers in trouble with the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC)
Three serving major generals, a retired major general, three brigadier generals, four colonels, and one lieutenant colonel are being interrogated by the anti-graft agency for their alleged involvement in the deal.
They were referred to the EFCC by the army authorities following an internal probe.
A security source familiar with the development branded it “a monumental fraud” last night.
The source said that from the evidence already gathered, what transpired in the air force with the arms procurement fund might turn out to be a child’s play.
“This is the most crucial aspect of the $2.1billion arms deals because the Nigerian Army was at the centre of the procurement. The case of the Nigerian Air Force might be a child’s play.”
Commodore Salisu Yushau, a retired finance director of the Air Force and prosecution witness in a case of corruption against former Chief of Defence Staff and one time Chief of Air Staff, Air Chief Marshall Alex Badeh told a Federal High Court in Abuja last Wednesday of how air force money was used to buy choice properties for Badeh’s sons and how the former Air Force Chief routinely mopped up salaries in excess of N500m monthly.
Ex-National Security Adviser, Col. Sambo Dasuki is facing a separate trial for alleged diversion of the $2.1 billion arms procurement fund.
Sources said:”already, we have started interrogating the officers referred to the commission. At the appropriate time, we will release their names to the public.
“Certainly, we will interact with two former Chiefs of Army Staff on the procurement process and inventory of arms and military hardware.”
The Army had said those found guilty of fraud by the EFCC will be tried by a Military Court Martial.
The Acting Director of Army Public Relations, Col. Sani Kukasheka Usman said in a terse statement that “However it should be noted that at the end of the commission’s investigations, those found culpable will be tried by a Military Court Martial.”
Some retired and former military officers are also under investigation for allegedly diverting a N5billion vote earmarked for election operation.
The fund was released by the Office of the National Security Adviser (ONSA).
The illegal fund, which was drawn from the Central Bank of Nigeria, was allegedly used for personal service.
Investigation by our correspondent revealed that the N5billion was illegally drawn for the Army from the CBN by ONSA.
It was learnt another vote was budgeted for the Army in the 2015 budget for operations leading to duplication of funds.
Some Army officers were said to have helped themselves to the N5billion cash since “operation funds” were regarded as “mere fluid budget.”
A reliable source said: “Some top Army officers are under probe over N5billion election operation funds from ONSA. The funds were illegally drawn under curious overhead from CBN.
“But preliminary findings have indicated that the cash was diverted to personal use. There is no record of disbursement and utilization.
“Some of the affected officers have been invited to Abuja. If found guilty of mismanagement of funds and political indulgence, they might face severe sanctions including dismissal or retirement.”
About N16.5billion was released to the Nigeria Police, Nigerian Air Force, Nigerian Army and ONSA for “logistic requirement for 2015 elections.”
The breakdown is as follows: IGP General Election OPS Fund Account (N10billion); Nigerian Air Force OPS Account (N1billion); Nigerian Army Operations Account (N5billion) and ONSA (N500million).