Few days after the Nigerian Army sacked some Generals and other Chiefs involved in the $2.1 billion arms procurement scandal and other corruption-related offences, there are strong indications that the Nigerian Air Force (NAF) will, any moment from now followed suit by sacking some of its top officers involved in the same scandal, New Telegraph reports this morning.
The NAF has already compiled the list of the senior officers to be given the boot, in the coming days, our source has confirmed through an investigation
Highly placed military sources said the looming retirement will pave the way for the officers’ prosecution by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC), which has since been investigating some of the indicted officers.
The Air Force will be toeing the line of the Nigerian Army, which announced the sacking of about 50 officers on Saturday.
Some of the officers to be eased out of service, according to a source, who pleaded anonymity, include:
- Air Vice Marshals (AVMs) A.M. Mamu,
- O.T. Oguntoyinbo,
- T. Omenyi,
- J.B. Adigun,
- R.A. Ojuawo,
- J.A. Kayode-Beckley.
- Air Cdre A.O. Ogunjobi,
- Air Cdre G.M.D. Gwani,
- Air Cdre S.O. Makinde,
- Air Cdre AY Lassa.
“The process on their exit from the Nigerian Air Force has been concluded. What is left is formal announcement of their disengagement.
There is no way the indicted officers can stay in the force when they are being tried for corruption cases in court. “Some of them have been arrested by the EFCC and kept in custody. Some of them have been detained at a military formation. So, there is no way they can be in the service.
There are other officers whose names were not in the list of indicted officers made public by the audit panel, but they have been found culpable in corruption-related offences. “From feelers, there are about 40 officers to be retired including eight AVMs. I’m sure they will all be retired this month,” a senior officer in the know told New Telegraph.
The affected senior officers were indicted in the report of the presidential audit of the arms procurement between 2007 and 2015. Other officers indicted by the 13-man panel are Maj-Gen. ER Chioba (Rtd), AVM I.A. Balogun (Rtd), AVM A.G. Tsakr (Rtd), and AVM A.G. Idowu (Rtd).
The serving officers were indicted along with three former Chiefs of Air Staff (CAS), namely Air Chief Marshal Alex Badeh (rtd), the immediate past Chief of Defence Staff (CDS); Air Marshal MD Umar (Rtd), who has opted for an out-of-court settlement in the N4.8 billion alleged fraud, as well as Air Marshal Adesola Amosu.
It was further gathered that any of the officers, who may be convicted, upon prosecution, will go to jail losing their rank. Until now, it was learnt that the indicted officers, who are still in service, were made to sign attendance register twice daily at the Air Force headquarters in Abuja, to indicate that they still resume normal duties on all working days.
AVM Oguntoyinbo, the Chief of Training and Operations of Nigerian Air Force, was remanded in Kuje Prison on June 2, for allegedly receiving N166 million bribe from NAF contractor, Société D’ Equipments Internationaux Nigeria Limited,in the course of performing his official duty.
Oguntoyinbo, who is being prosecuted by the EFCC, allegedly accepted the gift from the contractor through the account of his company, Spaceweb Integrated Services Limited, kept with Wema Bank Plc. Both AVMs J.B. Adigun and R.A. Ojuawo have been arrested by the EFCC over the arms contracts.
Adigun was Chief of Account and Budget of NAF. There were reports that houses belonging to Adigun had been confiscated by the EFCC. AVM Ojuawo, the Air Officer Commanding (AOC), Tactical Air Command, Makurdi, Benue State, was arrested by EFCC operatives at the Nnamdi Azikiwe International Airport, on his way to Germany recently.
Ojuawo was arrested while in the entourage of the Chief of Defence Staff (CDS), General Gabriel Olonisakin, who was travelling to attend a meeting of the United States Africa Command in Germany. Ojuawo served as Director of Operations under Amosu, who is also being investigated by the EFCC over the arms deal.
The EFCC is investigating the officers over 10 NAF contracts totalling $930,500,690 awarded to Societe D’ Equipments Internationaux (SEI) Nig Ltd. between January 2014 and February 2015. According to the report of the 13-man panel, the award letters contained misleading delivery dates, suggesting fraudulent intent in the award process.
Operatives are also grilling them over the procurement of two used Mi-24V Helicopters instead of the recommended Mi-35M series at the cost of $136,944,000. The helicopters were discovered to be excessively priced and not operationally airworthy at the time of delivery.
The arms probe panel established that a brand new unit of Mi-24V Helicopter goes for about $30 million. The helicopters were delivered without rotor blades and upgrade accessories. The officers are also being grilled over the procurement of four used Alpha-Jets for the NAF at the cost of $7,180,000.
Whereas NAF paid for four used Alpha-Jets, the panel confirmed that only two of the Alpha-Jet aircraft were ferried to Nigeria after cannibalisation of engines from NAF fleet. This is contrary to the written assertion of Amosu to the former National Security Adviser (NSA), Col. Sambo Dasuki that all the four procured Alpha-Jets aircraft were delivered to the NAF.
They are also being investigated in the procurement of 36D6 Low Level Air Defence Radar for NAF, which was awarded to GAT Techno Dynamics Ltd in April 2014 at the cost of $33 million. The arms panel averred that the radars were excessively priced as a complete set of such radars goes for $6 million.
It was established that $2 million from the proceeds was transferred to Mono Marine Corporation Nig Ltd, which is jointly owned by some principal characters in the deal. Meanwhile, the Nigerian Army has sacked about 50 officers, who were either found to have shown partisanship during the 2014 governorship elections in Ekiti and Osun states, or indicted by the arms probe panel.
The list of officers sacked included former Aide-de-Camps (ADCs) to late President Umaru Musa Yar’Adua and ex-President Goodluck Jonathan, Brig.-Gen. Mustapha Onoiveta and Col. Ojogbane Adegbe. The Commander, Training and Doctrine Command (TRADOC), Major General Mobolaji Adeleke Koleoso, top the list of the retired Army officers.
Maj. General Letam Wiwa, the younger brother of late environmental rights activist and author, Ken Saro-Wiwa, was among those retired. Col. Tonye F Minimah, who is a younger brother of former Chief of Army Staff, Lt. General Kenneth Minimah, was also affected.
So also was Col. Nicholas Achinze, who served as the ADC to the former National Security Adviser (NSA), Col. Sambo Dasuki (rtd). While justifying the sack, the Army, in a statement by its spokesman, Col. Sani Usman, said: “Their retirement was based on Service exigencies. It should be recalled that not too long ago, some officers were investigated for being partisan during the 2015 general elections.”