“History will vindicate the just and the wicked will not go unpunished.” – Dr. Nnamdi Azikiwe (First Nigerian President)
The Nigerian Chief of Army staff Lt Gen. Tukur Buratai is in the news again after he spearheaded the brutal massacre of 1000+ defenseless and unarmed Shia Muslims in Zaria last December. A London-based human rights organization nicknamed him ” The Butcher of Zaria” for his infamous role in the inhuman slaughter of Nigerian civilians in the Zaria massacre.
This time around the Nigerian Army Chief is in news for his corrupt practices and contract scams in the fight against the murderous BokoHaram insurgency that has seen him accumulated many choice properties in Nigeria and Dubai, UAE. At the height of the BokoHaram insurgency it was discovered that high-ranking Nigerian military officers facilitated the insurgency by diverting the funds meant to fight the insurgency or buying second-hand equipment that grossly hampered the fight against the murderous insurgency.
The New York-based Nigerian website the SaharaReporters triggered the investigation and monumental disclosures of the choice property assets of the Nigerian Army Chief in Dubai, UAE, and today this scandal is popularly referred to as BurataiGate. SaharaReporters has unmasked similar corrupt Nigerian officials in the past with credible proofs and the BurataiGate is not an exception.
Sahara Reporters informed about a week ago that the COAS 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, with Sale documents showing the first property was given to the Buratais on January 13, 2013.
Credible sources within the Nigerian Army said the money for Buratai’s first Dubai property came from a contract awarded for the supply of vehicles and motorcycles to the army. They confirmed that 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 the source. The source said the purchase of substandard vehicles exposed troops engaged in counterinsurgency operations to immeasurable danger, making them exposed to attacks by BokoHaram terrorists, and reduced their effectiveness.
The army sources revealed 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 watch of one Sergeant Dandan Garba.
Sahara Reporters through its investigative Jornalism found out that Lt Gen Buratai bought a second exotic property in Dubai, the United Arab Emirates, days after his appointment as Nigeria’s chief of army staff (COAS). On July 13, 2015, President Muhammadu Buhari appointed Buratai on as the new COAS.
Sahara Reporters gathered that in the first 11 days of his appointment, Buratai made arrangements to buy a second property from the same company in Dubai. And that between July 24 and August 17, 2015, he paid a total sum of N42.2 million into TFG Sigma 111’s account in Nigeria (Skye Bank 1770380452).
Sahara Reporters also got an evidence which revealed that the chief of army staff made N10 million payments on July 24 and August 7 concurrently. Three days later, he paid another N10 million into the real estate firm’s account. The phone number on the Skye Bank teller is 08033349740. On August 17, 2015, the chief of army staff paid the sum of N3,270,000 into the account.
Information from sources within the army revealed that the payments for the second Dubai property came from army funds allegedly stolen and diverted by 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 BokoHaram terrorists in Nigeria’s northeast zone.
It is important to note that these two choice properties in Dubai are not the only assets owned by the Nigerian Army Chief as is customary with the corrupt Nigerian elites that they only buy choice properties abroad after they have accumulated many choice properties in Nigeria. Sahara Reporters also reveal that the COAS also owns a big 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 Nigerian army.
The conscious Nigerian public commentators were not convinced by the defense of the assets acquisition by the Nigerian army Chief as contained in a statement released by the army image maker. They asked “how can a public officer like Buratai afford to pay for a choice property in Dubai ‘Project Marina Hotel Unit 2711’ in one lump, instead of by installments. The single payment earned him what the sellers, Sigma 111, called ‘incentives, promotions and early payment bonus’?”
One public commentator reasoned that “even if Buratai accumulated all his salaries and allowances since his commission in to the Nigerian army in 1983 to date, the entire accumulated sum can not pay for his $1.5 million choice properties in Dubai!” So the question that Nigerians are asking is “where did Buratai got all these colossal sums of money that he has used to buy choice properties in Nigeria and abroad as a public officer of the Nigerian army?”
Nigerian media outlets and their foreign counterparts have recently accused the government of President Buhari as been selective in its anti-corruption crusade as the main targets uptil now are members of the main opposition party, the PDP, and some selected Nigerians that have issues with the power that be. Despite all these damning disclosures of the monumental corruption of the Nigerian army Chief Buratai, the Nigerian government is silent despite repeated calls from all sections of the Nigerian society for Buratai to resign and be investigated for corrupt practices. No doubt the BurataiGate will act as a litmus test to the so-called anti-corruption claims and credentials of the Buhari administration as increasing number of Nigerians are becoming dissolutioned with the lies, cover-ups and double standards of the Buhari administration.
On a final note, a mass-murderer and BokoHaram facilitator like Buratai should not only be allowed to head the army of a great nation like Nigeria as this megalomanic character is better suited locked-up in either the jails of those corrupted Nigerians who betrayed the public trust given to them or the jails of brutal and inhuman war criminals who committed heinous war crimes against defenseless civilians.