“Presidential Arms Panel Filled With Tainted Investigators”

A group, Freedom of Information Advocates Initiative, has dismissed the report on arms purchase released by investigators appointed by President Muhammadu Buhari as a “tainted report” produced by “tainted investigators”.

In a statement Wednesday, the London-based group said its analysis of the Presidential Investigative Panel showed some members ought to have been disqualified from participating in the probe.

The panel, set up by President Buhari to audit procurement of arms by and for the Nigerian military between 2007 and 2015, submitted a third interim report last week.

The report showed how ex-political appointees, private individuals, and former military chiefs were culpable in fraudulent diversion of funds meant for arms procurement.

The president had come under severe criticism over claims that he may had shielded officials of his government.

The FOIA, in its statement, said the chairman of the probe panel, John Odey, an Air Vice Marshal, ought not to have been in the committee.

“Air Vice Marshal (AVM) Odey (Chairman of the Presidential Investigative Panel) was the Special Adviser (SA) to the then Minister of Defence Major Gen Gusau (Rtd) 2014 – 2015 whose role was to superintend and advise the Hon Minister of Defence on issues relating to arms procurement and other related
matters,” the statement, signed by Sharon Adoli-Lawrence, Acting Executive Director, FOIA, said.

“It is not prudent for AVM Odey to sit in judgment over a matter in which he was involved.”

Suleiman Labaran, former Director General, Defence Industries Corporation Of Nigeria (DICON) who is also a member of the panel, is facing a N3.6 billion contract scandal for the production of AK-47 bullets which was 100 percent paid for but only executed up to 30 percent, according to the group.

“As a result, the Nigerian Military continues to suffer casualties fighting Boko Haram. The General has no business on that panel. He is tainted,” the statement said.

“Brig Gen Nyama who was the procurement director between 2007-2011 is also a member of the Presidential Investigative Panel investigating arms contracts
which he participated in awarding. He should at best be a witness not an investigator,” it added.

The FOIA said its forensic analysis further showed that 90 percent of N186 billion arms deal was disbursed by the Ministry of Defence and National Security Adviser’s office without input from the army, navy, and airforce.

The group wondered why Murtala Yar’Adua, a former Minister of State for Defence, had not been invited for interrogation despite “superintending over the mis-managed N35 billion Peace-Keeping vote”.

“Major General Gusau (Rtd), Permanent Secretary Aliyu, and others superintended over the arms procurement deal in the Ministry of Defence, NSA’s office, within the period 2007-2015 but they were not mentioned in the PIP report. Why?”

The group said it also discovered that huge amount of money in dollars was paid to a Nigerian citizen with links to Niger Republic whose identity was never revealed in the investigative report.

“Who is this Nigerian? The panel should unveil the identity of this person in spirit of transparency.

“The report did not specify the amount allegedly misappropriated by each ministry/agency with dates indicating purpose and level of performance.

“The funds were all lumped together misleading the general public. Each ministry/agency ought to have given account of all funds accrued to them within the period under investigation.”