Contrary to claim made by the Nigerian Army authority that the two Dubai properties reportedly acquired by the Chief of Army Staff, Gen. Tukur Buratai jointly with his wives were officially declared by Buratai when he was appointed Nigeria’s top army officer, fresh investigation according to Sahara Reporters revealed that the second property was bought 11 days after President Muhammadu Buhari appointed him as the army chief.
The Army authority had also termed as “false and misleading” a report that Mr. Buratai, and his wives jointly became owners of the roperties following a certain “single” transaction.
Gen. Buratai and his two wives in 2013 paid the sum of 1,498,534.00 AED (N120 million/$419,000) for the first property, Project TFG Marina Hotel Unit 2711. Sale documents indicated that the first property was handed over to the Buratais on January 13, 2013.
On July 13, 2015, President Muhammadu Buhari appointed General Buratai as Chief of Army Staff. Our investigations show that, within 11 days of his appointment, the general was making arrangements for the purchase of a second property from the same company in Dubai. Our investigators obtained evidence that, between July 24 and August 17, 2015, General Buratai paid a total sum of N42.2 million into TFG Sigma 111’s account in Nigeria (Skye Bank 1770380452).
Evidence exclusively obtained by SaharaReporters reveal that General Buratai made N10 million payments on July 24 and August 7 respectively. Three days later, another N10 million was paid into the real estate firm’s account, The phone number on the Skye Bank teller is 08033349740 Saharareporters investigations shows that it belonged to a Nigerian Army Major Emmanuel G. Adegbola of the Nigerian Army Finance Corps (N/10808). On August 17, 2015, the Chief of Army Staff paid the sum of N3,270,000 into the account.
Our sources within the Army disclosed that the lodgments came from Army funds stolen and diverted by General Buratai. They explained that the diverted monies were taken from funds budgeted for the feeding, medical care and payment of allowances of soldiers fighting the war against Islamist insurgents in Nigeria’s northeast zone.
Our sources also stated that the funds for General Buratai’s first Dubai property came from a contract awarded for the supply of vehicles and motorcycles to the Army. They asserted that General Buratai had cornered the contract in his days as Director of Procurement at the Army Headquarters, using a front identified as Usman Gamawa. “The contract was awarded for the purchase of new vehicles, but Alhaji Gamawa’s Baggash Investment Limited bought second-hand vehicles and motorcycles from Niger Republic for the use of soldiers,” said one source. He said the purchase of substandard vehicles exposed troops engaged counter-insurgency operations to heightened danger, made them vulnerable to attacks by Boko Haram insurgents, and reduced their effectiveness.
Army sources disclosed that, on arrival in Nigeria, the vehicles and motorcycles supplied by General Buratai’s front, Mr. Gamawa, were taken for refurbishment at Mogadishu Cantonment under the supervision of one Sergeant Dandan Garba.
Angered by the deplorable state of the vehicles and motorcycles, a group known as Concerned Soldiers and Officers From The Northeast petitioned President Muhammadu Buhari to demand an investigation into the financial malfeasance perpetrated by General Buratai. A member of the group told SaharaReporters that they want President Buhari to ask General Buratai to explain where he got money for his various assets, including the real estate in Dubai. He said the COAS also owns a huge industrial-scale farm, Tukur and Tukur Farm Limited, on the Abuja-Keffi Expressway. “The farm is currently a huge construction site, featuring a tarred road, a zoo, a guesthouse, chalets, a restaurant, a cinema hall, a mini-stadium and other leisure facilities,” said the source, adding that some of the equipment on the site belongs to the Army.
In a statement issued last Friday, Colonel Sani Kukasheka Usman, acting Director of Army Public Relations, claimed that General Buratai and his family own two properties in Dubai that were paid for in installments through personal savings. But Colonel Usman’s claim that the two homes were bought three years ago is at odds with purchase documents seen by SaharaReporters. Colonel Usman also stated that General Buratai was a victim of a campaign of calumny.
Purchase documents for General Buratai’s first property in Dubai showed that the COAS and his wives paid for Project Marina Hotel Unit 2711 in one lump, instead of by installments. Their single payment earned them what the sellers, Sigma 111, called “incentives, promotions and early payment bonus.” Owing to the lump payment, the sellers shaved off AED 43,466 from the AED 1,542,000 that was the asking price for the property. General Buratai paid AED 1,498,534 for the first property.
The cash lodgments into Sigma 111 Skye Bank account also suggested that General Buratai did not buy the second property three years ago, as Colonel Usman claimed. The dates of the payment showed that money started gushing into the account eleven days after Buratai’s appointment as Chief of Army Staff.
Colonel Usman also claimed that General Buratai had always declared the two properties as parts of his assets. But such claims are hardly cast-iron proof of fidelity to the laws on declaration of assets. Public officials regularly claim to own assets they have not bought. Similarly, Colonel Usman claimed that General Buratai was never a Director of Procurement at the Defense Headquarters. Yet, evidence from the website of Bureau of Public Procurement (BPP) proves the military spokesman wrong. According to the site bpp.gov.ng, General Buratai attended the 2014 Defense Headquarters Procurement Seminar as the Director of Procurement.
The website quoted General Buratai as stating at the seminar, “It is our hope that at the end of the seminar, we would all be better informed about public procurement procedures and work towards the emergence of an enhanced Defense Procurement Procedure for the Armed Forces of Nigeria.”
Several retired and serving Army officers told SaharaReporters that General Buratai seemed to be getting away with his financial misdeeds because of a growing culture of corruption in the armed forces. They point to the case of Major-General A.B. Abubakar, the current Chief of Administration at the Army Headquarters. According to two sources, General Abubakar was never sanctioned after he reportedly misappropriated huge sums meant for the equipping and training of re-absorbed soldiers based in Kontagora, Niger State. Another military source cited Brigadier-General Momoh of the Department of Logistics, Army Headquarters who reportedly diverted millions of the Army’s funds to his private account. “His only punishment was redeployment to the Training and Doctrine Command (TRADOC) of the Nigerian Army,” said the source.
Yet another military source drew attention to the case of one Colonel Jega, who reportedly placed 101st at the Defense College exams. Yet, the colonel got preferential treatment and was sent to the Defense College in Bangladesh, ahead of those who performed much better than he. “Some of those who did better in the exams were even retired,” our source said.
“The attention of the Nigerian Army has been drawn to another round of campaign of calumny against the Chief of Army Staff, Lieutenant General Tukur Yusufu Buratai and his family by some unscrupulous elements as contained in Sahara Reporters story titled “Revealed: Buhari’s Chief Of Army Staff, General Buratai, Wives Own Dubai Property”, alleging that Nigeria’s Chief of Army Staff (COAS), General Tukur Buratai, and his two wives are joint owners of a Dubai property that was paid for in one transaction posted on the website, this evening.
“It is important to know that these baseless allegations were not new. In March this year, some groups of individuals under the aegis of “Concerned Citizens”, tried same smear campaign to their disappointment, it could not fly, because it is not true.
“You will recall early this week, there was similar campaign of calumny by yet another online news medium, The Cable, in which among other things, it alleged that wounded in action Nigerian Army personnel were abandoned by the Army, government and the nation which is not true.
“Therefore, the latest round of smear campaign by Sahara Reporters is one of the series of campaigns of calumny by these faceless individuals to malign the Chief of Army Staff and the Nigerian Army. Yet, typical of blackmailers and mischief makers despite failures, they did not give up, hence they now found a willing accomplice reputed for muckraking like the Sahara Reporters. The online news medium this evening uploaded another campaign of calumny allegedly based on a petition by obviously fake and non-existent group it described as “Concerned Soldiers and Officers from the North East”.
“The allegations contained in the Sahara Reporters write up are baseless and not correct. It is a fact that the Buratai family have two properties in Dubai that were paid for instalmentally through personal savings three years ago. This, along with other personal assets have consistently been declared by General Buratai in his Assets Declaration Form as Commander Multinational Joint Task Force Commander and as Chief of Army Staff.
“It is pertinent to state that the Chief of Army Staff does not have any account with Skye Bank as alleged, let alone making deposits in the imaginary bank account to the tune of the amount stated in the write up. Similarly, he has not been involved in any form of shady or dishonest transaction, not to talk of “contract scam”.
“In addition, General Buratai was never near either Defence Headquarters or Army Headquarters in 2013. It is pertinent to also note that he was never a Director of procurement in Army Headquarters as alleged. As a matter of fact, the Nigerian Army never had a Directorate of Procurement till when he established one last year when he became Chief of Army Staff.
“In a bid to rubbish the hard earned reputation and good name of the Chief of Army Staff, these blackmailers will stop at nothing hence all these kinds of mudslinging.
“It is really worrisome that some people could condescend so low to fabricate baseless allegation against the Chief of Army Staff for reasons that could best be described as mischievous. It is equally worrisome that Sahara Reporters could lend space for this obvious mischief. We really do not believe that it is because the price is right.
“Consequently, the public and indeed all well-meaning persons should disregard this round of campaign of calumny against the Chief of Army Staff and similar ones because they are baseless and unfounded.
“For the unscrupulous elements and their cohorts, these campaigns would prod the Nigerian Army and indeed the Chief of Army Staff to continue to serve the nation diligently and with utmost zeal”.