- Transparency Intâ€™l: N4.62tn allocated to defence sector in five years, unaccounted for
- Reveals graft in sector undermined war against insurgency
- Â DHQ: Report is targeted at blocking support for war against terror
Senator Iroegbu and Paul Obi in Abuja
Following the revelation by the Chief of Army Staff (COAS), Lt.-Gen. Tukur Buratai, of attempts by some politicians to infiltrate the military, the Nigerian Army said Thursday that it was yet to make any arrests.
This is just as a report by Transparency International (TI) stated Thursday that the Nigerian defence and security sector is steeped in corruption, revealing that over N4.6 trillion ($15 billion) allocated to the sector in five years was either embezzled or unaccounted for.
Buratai on Tuesday had warned officers and soldiers of the Nigerian Army to steer clear of politics and politicians, whom he claimed were attempting to influence them.
He said the Nigerian Army headquarters had received information that some individuals had been approaching some officers and soldiers for undisclosed political reasons.
On this basis, Buratai warned such persons to desist from these acts and ordered his men to remain apolitical.
But responding to questions Thursday on whether the army has arrested, interrogated or questioned any of its officers or soldiers allegedly contacted by the said politicians, army spokesman, Brig. Gen. Sani Usman, said no one had been interrogated and no arrests had been made.
He said: â€œWe have always been open and transparent with information and if there is anything, we will let the public know.â€
Usman did not elaborate on any move to investigate the matter beyond the warning handed down to officers and soldiers in the army by the COAS.
Burataiâ€™s warning brought to the fore the spectre of a coup plot, amid concerns arising from President Muhammadu Buhariâ€™s ill health and absence from the country.
The president left the country for the United Kingdom almost two weeks ago for a medical follow-up on an undisclosed ailment.
His current trip is the third medical-related trip he has made in less than one year, fuelling speculations about his ability to lead the country.
Defence Sector Corruption
Meanwhile, a report has stated that the Nigerian defence and security sector is steeped in corruption, revealing that over N4.6 trillion ($15 billion) allocated to the sector in five years was either embezzled or unaccounted for.
The report, which was released in Abuja Thursday by Transparency International (TI), in conjunction with and Civil Society Legislative Advocacy Centre (CISLAC), added that the graft in the sectors has undermined the war against the insurgency in the North-east.
The 19-page report titled: â€˜Weaponising Transparency: Defence Procurement Reform as a Counter-terrorism Strategy in Nigeria,â€™ stated that the unforgivable damage defence corruption has done to the nationâ€™s political stability, counter-terrorism efforts, socio-economic development and wellbeing of Nigerian citizens, was undeniable.
Speaking during the launch of the report, the Executive Director of CISLAC, Mr. Auwal Musa Rafsanjani, said the report focused more on the consequences of defence sector corruption, because of the sharp increases in the North-east ad hoc defence spending between 2011 and 2015 with fruitless outcomes.
â€œYet, operations in the region were hampered by equipment, material and pay shortages,â€ he said.
Musa added: â€œCorruption is not far-fetched in Nigeriaâ€™s defence sector. In 2014, the TI Defence Anti-Corruption Index, a global study of corruption risk levels in national defence establishments, detailed the many areas where corruption risks are high in Nigeria and analysed the consequences.
â€œThe research showed that lethally armed criminal networks, operating with the tacit support of local and foreign business mafias, and championed by powerful military â€˜godfathersâ€™, illegally siphoned off about $1 billion each year in petroleum.
â€œAmidst claims by Nigerian security agencies that they were being underfunded, it has been revealed that a total of N4.62 trillion was allocated to the federal security sector from 2010 to 2015.
â€œHow this huge sum was spent, however, remains unclear as there is no reliable performance reports by the security agencies.
â€œThe efforts of the security agencies â€“ the military, police, secret police â€“ to contain violence and insurgencies have been attributed to incapacity and deep corruption.â€
Musa further stated that procurement in the defence sector is most vulnerable to corruption, noting that in addition to the volume of transactions and the financial interests at stake, corruption risks are exacerbated by the complexity of the process, close interaction between defence officials and businesses, and the multitude of stakeholders.
He said the report identified the types of corruption in the defence procurement process to include embezzlement, undue influence in the needs assessment, single source contracting, unaccountable and overpaid agents, obscure defence budgets, fraud in bid evaluations, and invoices or contract obligations.
Musa said the report also revealed that â€œmore than half of foreign bribery cases occurred to obtain a public procurement contract, with almost two-thirds of foreign bribery cases occurring in sectors associated with contracts or licensing through public procurementâ€.
The report also revealed how Nigerians in the defence sector, with influence of political connections, stole N1.3 trillion ($4.3 billion) over a period of seven years through arms equipment deals, as well as another N610 billion ($2 billion), which was allegedly stolen or diverted under the watch of the former National Security Adviser (NSA), Col. Sambo Dasuki (rtd).
But in its reaction to the report, the Defence Headquarters (DHQ) debunked the corruption allegations levelled against it and other security institutions in the country by TI and CISLAC.
Speaking to reporters Thursday, DHQ spokesman, Major-General John Enenche, accused TI of attempting to block the current support the Nigerian defence sector is getting in the war against terrorism from concerned countries.
He noted that the present leadership of the Armed Forces of Nigeria has done a lot to train, boost troopsâ€™ morale and procure vital equipment through due process for the North-east operations against Boko Haram, in particular, and other operations.
Enenche explained that the Nigerian military has been commended by the United Nations (UN) on its war against the insurgency, adding that TI was working hard to destroy the good image it has established for itself.
He said: â€œLet me start by making it clear that this sweeping allegation is false. The present leadership of the Armed Forces of Nigeria has done a lot to train, boost troopsâ€™ morale and procure vital equipment through due process for the North-east operations against Boko Haram, in particular, and other operations.
â€œThe Defence Headquarters, army, navy and air force have established procurement branches that are guided by the rules and regulations of the Bureau of Public Procurement (BPP).
â€œThe Ministry of Defence deals directly with states and governments on defence equipment procurement without using contractors or vendors any longer.
â€œIt is suspicious that a sweeping statement of corruption against military officials is being made. At a time like this, it is rather disheartening.
â€œMore so when the Nigerian military on March 22, 2017 was credited by the UN as having done very well to fight the insurgency and extremism, among others vices; with advice to other countries to learn from Nigeria.
â€œIn addition, such an allegation coming at the peak of the successes being recorded in our areas of operational engagements and the North-east, in particular, must be treated with utmost suspicion.â€
Enenche stressed that the Armed Forces remains focused and committed to providing security to lives and property and totally loyal and subordinated to the Commander-in-Chief of the Federal Republic of Nigeria.