By Olawale Ajimotokan in Abuja
The Federal Government yesterday defended the integrity of the report of the Presidential Committee on the Audit of Defence Equipment Procurement in the Armed Forces (2007-2015), saying that there was no truth in the insinuation that the report was manipulated for whatever reasons.
The defence was made for the report of the committee headed Air-Vice Marshal Jon Ode (rtd), by Minister of Information and Culture, Alhaji Lai Mohammed.
In a statement issued in Abuja yesterday, Mohammed said what had been released so far only covered the report of the audit from the period 2011 to 2015, adding that the Committee would commence the audit of procurement from 2007 to 2010 as soon as the necessary documents are available.
President Muhammadu Buhari had approved that 18 serving and retired military personnel, plus 12 serving and retired public officers and 24 chief executive officers of companies involved in arms procurement be subjected to further investigation after pondering on the report of the Presidential Committee on the Audit of Defence Equipment Procurement in the Armed Forces from the aforementioned period.
Some of those touted for further grilling include two former Chiefs of Army Staff, Lt Gen Azubuike Ihejirika (rtd) and Lt Gen Kenneth T.J. Minimah (rtd); former Minister of State for Foreign Affairs, Dr Nurudeen Mohammed; and three former Permanent Secretaries in the Ministry of Defence- Bukar Goni Aji, Mr. Haruna Sanusi and Mr. E.O. Oyemomi.
”When the documents regarding procurement from 2007 to 2010 are available and scrutinized, the committee will then issue its report on that. The audit is being done on phases, and the report that was released on Thursday is the third of such,” the Mohammed said.
He assured on the non- discriminatory policy of federal government’s anti-corruption fight and called on Nigerians to keep an open mind as events unfold.
The report stated that the Nigerian Army contracts awarded by the Ministry of Defence for the period under review were often awarded without “significant input from the end-user (Nigerian Army) and to vendors who lacked the necessary technical competence”.
The AVM Ode panel had alleged that three contracts valued at N5,940,000,000 were awarded to DYI Global Services Ltd and Doiyatec Comms Nig. Ltd (owned by the same individual) for the procurement of military hardware including 20 units of KM-38 twin hull boats and six units of 4X4 ambulances fitted with radios.
The committee found that both companies collected N5,103,500,000, representing 86 per cent of the total value of the three contracts, but only performed to the tune of N2,992,183,705.31.
The committee also found that a contract worth N169,916,849.77 for the procurement of 53 armoured vehicles’ spare parts, with 90 days completion time, was yet to be completed five years after.
”No one should attempt to distract from the seriousness of the issues involved in this audit of defence equipment procurement. It is important to note that even though the total amount spent for procurement and operations within the period were N185,843,052,564.30 and $685,349,692.49, the irregularities in the awards ensured that the military did not get value for money, with very serious consequences,” Mohammed said.
The committee had among others alleged that many of the contracts awarded by the Nigeria Army were ridden with irregularities, corruption and lack of due process, in breach of existing procurement regulations.
The Ode Committee also concluded that after an analysis of the various accounts by Chok Ventures Ltd and Integrated Equipment Services Ltd, between March 2011 and December 2013, showed transfer to individuals with link to the then COAS.
The companies were alleged to have purchased many types of Toyota and Mitsubishi vehicles worth over N3,000,000,000 for the Nigerian Army without any competitive bidding.
The report also said some of the military equipment particularly the Armoured Personnel Carriers (APCs) broke down when deployed for Peace Keeping Operations in Sudan and did not meet the operational requirement for the army, thereby causing the country an international embarrassment and deprived her appropriate reimbursement from the United Nations.
It similarly alleged that post-delivery Technical Inspection Reports revealed that the APCs were also unsuitable for the fight against the Boko Haram insurgency in the North-east
According to the panel after the APCs were deployed during the unrest for military operation, one was destroyed by RPG fire, killing a colonel inside.