House Commences Investigation of Presidential Arms Probe Panel

Barring any further hitches, the Joint Committee of House of Representatives investigating the Jon Ode-led Presidential Arms Probe Panel will commence public hearing tomorrow at the National Assembly Complex in Abuja.

The Chairman of Public Safety, National Security and Intelligence, Hon. Aminu Sani Jaji, told PRNigeria that arrangements had been concluded to conduct the hearing.

Jaji said the joint committee comprising Committees of National Security and Intelligence and Public Procurement was set up after a lot of petitions were received by the lower chamber against the presidential investigating panel established by the government.

He said: “The presidency set up a presidential committee on armed procurement and the Office of the National Security Adviser (ONSA) also set up another verification committee to ascertain some of the claims.

“So far, what the committees have submitted, based on the information in the public domain, are preliminary reports rather than full and comprehensive report.

“Findings have further shown that very few claims of the firms involved in arms procurement have so far been verified while nothing is being done on others.

“As you are aware the National Assembly has received a lot of petitions and complaints over the conducts of the panel and activities of the firms being probed. We are also inundated with complaints that the inability of the panel to submit its reports has led to the failure of the government to pay arms contractors for their work and is affecting military operation.

“Meanwhile there are also allegations that some of the contracts awarded to the firms were outrageous, apart from the fact that many did not follow due process and yet others received payment without carrying the job.”

PRNigeria recalls that the lower chamber of the National Assembly mandated a Joint Committee on National Security and Intelligence and Public Procurement to investigate the Ode led Presidential Arms Probe Panel which was recently disbanded by the federal government.

The Joint Committee chaired by both Hon. Aminu Sani Jaji of Committee on National Security and Intelligence and Hon. Oluwole Oke of the committee on Public Procurement had recently called for submission of written memoranda/position papers from top government officials and 241 firms.

Those officially invited to make submissions of their memoranda included the Chairman and members of the Jon Ode-led Arms Probe Panel, National Security Adviser (NSA), defence minister, finance minister, interior minister, Governor of the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN), Accountant General of the Federation and Auditor General of the Federation.

Others invited were Secretary to the Government of the Federation (SGF), service chiefs and ex-service chiefs from 2010 to 2016, Director General, Department of State Service (DSS), Director General, National Intelligence Agency (NIA), acting Chairman Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC), Director General Bureau of Public Procurement (BPP), Executive Chairman, Federal Inland Revenue Service, Director General of the Pension Commission (PENCOM), Director General Industrial Training Fund and Managing Director Social Insurance Trust Fund.

The arms probe panel was inaugurated in 2015 by the presidency to investigate procurement of hardware and ammunition in the armed forces from 2007 to 2015 and to identify irregularities and make recommendations for streamlining the procurement process in the military.

The panel had submitted its first interim report in November 2015 while it presented the second report in January 2016 following which President Muhammadu Buhari ordered the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) to investigate some serving and retired military officers, mainly from the Nigerian Air Force (NAF).

The president also directed investigations on the roles of the officers as well as some companies and their directors in fundamental breaches associated with the procurements by the Office of the National Security Adviser (ONSA) and the NAF.

During their investigations, some members of the arm probe panel were accused of receiving bribes from individuals and companies that were being probed by the same panel.

One of the members was later arrested and detained by Department of State Service (DSS) for money-laundering and illegal possession of firearms.

Meanwhile, some serving security officials also accused the panel of merely criminalising critical institutions and indicting groups and individuals through media trials without being arraigned of competent jurisdiction where the accused could defend themselves. Apart from Jon Ode who was the chairman, other members of the disbanded arms probe panel were Rear Admiral J.A. Aikhomu (rtd.); Rear Admiral. E. Ogbor (rtd.); Brig.-Gen. L. Adekagun (rtd.); Brig.-Gen. M. Aminu-Kano (rtd.); Brig.-Gen. N. Rimtip (rtd.); Cdre T.D. Ikoli; Air Cdre U. Mohammed (rtd.); Air Cdre I. Shafi’i; Col. A.A. Ariyibi; Group Capt C.A. Oriaku (rtd.); Acting Chairman of the EFCC, Mr. Ibrahim Magu and Brig-Gen Y.I. Shalangwa as its Secretary.

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