|Lt.-Gen. Abdulrahman Dambazzau|
President Muhammadu Buhari's Minister of the interior, Lt.-Gen. Abdulrahman Dambazzau and 2 other former Chiefs of Army Staffs have been invited by the Presidential Committee on Defence Equipment Procurement in the Nigerian Armed Forces, investigating the $2.1 billion arms procurement fund which is believed to have been diverted to private individual purses.
Others invited, according to The Nation Newspaper are; Lt.-Gen. Azubuike Ihejirika and Lt.-Gen. Kenneth Minimah.
The panel has summoned over 292 serving and retired top officers who worked with the three former Army chiefs.
It said it was in line with its mandate to look into procurement of arms, ammunition and equipment from 2007 to 2015.
The committee has also asked more than 10 local and foreign companies to appear before it. They include the Defence Industry Corporation of Nigeria (DICON).
According to sources, the Chairman of the committee, Air Vice Marshal JON Ode, has asked the Nigerian Army Headquarters to direct all the officers to be present at the panel.
The panel’s letter to the Army Headquarters said: “The invitees are required to clarify issues arising from procurement between 2007 and 2015 before the committee sitting at the ONSA daily.
“AHQ is required to cause the appearance of the senior officers and CEOs of the companies before the committee on dates stated against their names. Your cooperation will be most appreciated.”
It was gathered last night that some of the military chiefs will testify before the panel today.
Procurement overheads to be probed include ammunition for Darfur operation, supply of training kits and equipment; purchase of 16MG and 29 RPG and 10Grenade Launchers; repair of seven assault craft; repair service and upgrade of 29 Suncraft ; purchase of 15 Freefall Parachutes; buying of MRAP vehicles with maintenace containers; order of Radio Technologies Equipment; purchase of 10 APCs by DICON; 51 GPMG and sustenance of Operation Zaman Lafiya; emergency procurement of Combat Equipment for Ongoing Ops; Operation Internal Security; Quick Response Group and Forward Operation Bases; HE Type Mortal and purchase of Bullet Proof Vests.
Some of the retired officers invited are former Commander of the Army Finance Corps, Maj-Gen Charles Ehigie Airhiavbere (the former Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) governorship candidate in Edo State; former Corps Commander, Nigerian Army Ordinance Corps, Lagos , Maj.-Gen. Olayemi Abidoye; ex-Chief of Policy and Plans, Army Headquarters, Major General E. E. Bassey; former General Officer Commanding 3 Armoured Division, Major General Jack Okechukwu Nwaogbo; former Chief of Training and Operations, Defence Headquarters (DHQ), Major General M.A. Yerima; former Chief of Policy and Plans, Army Headquarters, Major General O Akinyemi; former Commandant, Nigerian Army Ordnance Corps (NAOC)Major-General A. A. Martins; ex-GOC 3 Amoured Div, Maj.Gen. AB Marwa; and former Chief of Policy and Plans at Army headquarters, Major General A. Atofarati.
Others include former Commandant, Army Finance Corps, Gen. A.I. Muraina; ex- Directing Staff, National Defence College, Maj-Gen. Christian Onuorah Ugwu; former Director-General, Defence Industries Corporation (DICON), Maj.-Gen. Ekwenugo Chioba; former Chief of Policy and Plans, Army Headquarters, Major General Essien Bassey; former Chief of Logistics at the Army Headquarters, Maj.-Gen. Daniel Kitchener; and former Defence Attaché at the Nigerian Embassy in Pakistan, Maj.-Gen. Daniel Kitchener.
Some of the local and foreign firms slated for interaction, alongside their Chief Executive Officers, are DICON; Streit Group; China North Industries; Suncraft International Inc; Shangai L Electronics; Poly Trechnologies Inc; NRTC Pakistan; Kennedy Logistics; DYS Global Service Limited; Driveline System; Hadassa Investment Security Nigeria Ltd; Oraco Trade Link Limited and M/S Jatori.
Although some serving Army Generals are expected to appear before the panel, their names are being kept under wraps “for strategic reasons”.
A source, who spoke in confidence, said: “All those invited have been served letters and some of them will appear on Monday (today).
“Actually, most of them have nothing to do with fraud in the Nigerian Army but the panel cannot do a thorough job and be fair minded without hearing from them. For instance, all past commanders of Army Ordinance Corps from 2007 to 2015 were summoned by the panel. The Ordinance Corps has more or less to do with keeping inventory of arms, ammunition and other equipment. All they need to do is to reconcile the records of arms purchased and those utilised.
“The chairman of the committee, AVM Ode, is a thorough professional and a respected man of probity. This is why the committee wants to meet with all key stakeholders who have had to take decisions on arms procurement.”
Asked if the committee will interact with the three former Chiefs of Army Staff, the source said: “If there is need for it, Generals Dambazzau, Ihejirika and Minima will certainly be invited.
“Please note, none of all those invited is facing trial. They will only interact with this fact-finding committee. At the end of the day, the panel will make recommendations to the President and Commander-In-Chief, Gen. Muhammadu Buhari.
“Where there are infractions,the C-I-C will make appropriate decision, based on facts and figures.
“No one is the target; nobody has been labeled a thief or looter. We are looking into massive procurement issues in the Nigerian Army.”