The Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, yesterday, continued its arrest of high profile politicians and top military officers over the $2bn arms contract allegedly disbursed by the Office of National Security Adviser, ONSA.
Suspects arrested, yesterday, included the former Chairman of the Presidential Implementation Committee on Marine Safety, Air Vice Marshal Salihu Atawodi.
Atawodi, Bafarawa, Dasuki and Dokpesi
Atawodi was accused of alleged diversion of N600 million meant for acquisition of military boats for the use of the Nigerian armed forces.
Others who are already being detained in connection with the arms deal include former National Security Adviser, Col. Sambo Dasuki; Chairman Emeritus of Daar Communications, High Chief Raymond Dokpesi, former governor of Sokoto State, Attahiru Bafarawa and former Minister of State for Finance, Bashir Yuguda.
Chief Dokpesi reportedly told EFCC interrogators that the N2.1bn he collected from the NSA was meant for election publicity in media houses across the country, a disclosure strongly discountenanced by media operatives yesterday.
Atawodi was said to have awarded the contract for the boats and fully paid for them while none was supplied at the end of the day, thereby making Nigeria lose the funds.
According to a competent source in the EFCC, Atawodi, who recently retired from the Air Force, was arrested Wednesday and taken into EFCC custody for questioning.
The former fighter pilot, the source claimed, is likely to be charged with conspiracy, abuse of public office and misappropriation of public funds.
He awarded the contract to one Alhaji Rabiu’s Hypertech Nigeria Limited. The contractor was fully paid but the boats were never supplied.
The source further disclosed that the contract award process violated the Procurement Act.
AVM Atawodi who has been on the radar of the anti-graft agency since 2013, was quizzed for several hours on Wednesday, December 2, 2015, after he responded to the invitation extended to him. He arrived EFCC headquarters at about 11am.
EFCC spokesman, Wilson Uwujaren confirmed Atawodi’s presence at the Commission, adding that he is assisting the investigation.
At press time, the retired Air Force officer was still with operatives of the commission.
His arrest added to the increasing number of high profile Nigerian politicians and top military officers implicated in the diversion of defence budget, which the Buhari administration has sworn to unearth and punish.