Fresh evidence of industrial-scale corruption in the military uncovered shows that huge sums of money from the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC) and the National Petroleum Investment Services (NAPIMS) were funneled into military/security operations in the restive Niger Delta in the past 13 years, with none of it accounted for.
A document dated April, 30 2010, exclusively obtained and signed by Mrs. Diezani Alison-Madueke, who was at the time Petroleum Resources Minister, shows that eye-watering amounts went to each of the armed forces and the police under the scheme; Entitled "Payments On Behalf Of Federal Government Re: Logistics Support For Security Operations In The Niger Delta From 2003 To Date," It was addressed by the Minister to Mr. Goodluck Jonathan who was at the time of the document Nigeria’s Acting president.
"We wish to apprise Your Excellency that between 2006 and 2007, the sum of $745million was approved for the Arms of Services and the Nigerian Police Force for funding of security expenses in the Niger Delta," states the document in its opening line. The approved sum, she stated, was sourced from NAPIMS JV Cash Call budget and Federal Government dividends from NLNG, and was utilised. She proceeded to give a breakdown of how much was given to each arm of service and the police.
According to the document: $220million was approved for the Army; $185million was approved for the Nigerian Air Force; $160million was approved for the Nigerian Navy and $180million for the Nigeria Police Force For the 2008 and 2009 fiscal years, a total of $400million from the NAPIMS JV Cash Call budgets was also appropriated for security in the Niger Delta. The document revealed that a total of $221.171 million was expended on security in the oil-bearing region, as follows: $46.8million to the Defence Intelligence Agency for logistics for security; $158.7million to the Navy for patrol boats; and $11.1million to the Presidential Implementation Committee on Maritime Security and Safety (PICOMSS). That committee was eventually scrapped.
This, revealed the document, left a balance of $178.83million appropriated in 2008 and 2009. Despite the huge cash splash, Alison-Madueke went on to make additional requests totaling $154.11million, and yet another, of $35.75million. The additional requests, said the Minister in the document, were already with the NNPC awaiting Jonathan's approval for payment.
Broken down the Army made an additional request of $48.75million; the Nigeria Police Force, $15.70million; and PICOMSS, $86.66million. Of the $35.75million also requested by the Minister, and captured as "commitments from the Arms of Service", $5.34million was to go to the Army, 0.07 million to the Police, $7.29million to the Navy and $23.05million to the Police.
Before former president Jonathan was voted out of office last year, there were loud calls for an investigation into defence and security spending, with some of those making the calls asking for an extension of the demanded probe to the time of his predecessor, former president Umaru Yar'Adua.
The widespread belief was that there was grand theft while Yar'Adua, who later died, was incapacitated by ill-health. Under Yar'Adua, the Chief of Army Staff was General Abdurahaman Bello Dambazzau, who is currently the country's Interior Minister. Dambazzau, who was appointed by President Muhammadu Buhari last August, has had his name mentioned in connection with the financial malfeasance that has dogged the military over the years. Bizarrely, his name and that of General Tukur Yusuf Buratai, current Chief of Army Staff, are missing from the list of those affected by the Federal Government probe into defence spending, prompting critics to accuse Buhari of favouritism.
The exclusion of Dambazzau and Buratai from the list has fuelled criticisms of the probe. Notable among the critics is Governor Ayodele Fayose of Ekiti State, who has challenged Nigerians to demand the release of the authentic report of the Committee on Audit of Defence Equipment Procurement in the Nigerian Armed Forces. He described the Federal Government's claim that the probe panel only looked into procurement and contracts awarded by the military between 2011-2015 because documents related to procurement from 2007 to 2010 were unavailable as a clear indication of Buhari's support for corruption.
In a statement issued by his spokesperson, Lere Olayinka, the governor said, “There are many petitions relating to defence from 2007 that are been discarded, the question is why? “Buhari’s’ Minister of Interior, Major General Abdulrahman Dambazau (rtd) was Chief of Army Staff between 2008 and 2010 and the current Chief Of Army Staff (COAS) Major General Tukur Buratai, served as Director of Procurement, Defence Headquarters, from 2012 till May 2015.
“It is a fact that the committee in its terms of reference said it queried all procurement from 2007 to 2015. "Even the press release issued was titled "Third Interim Report of the Presidential Committee on Audit of Defence Equipment Procurement from 2007 to 2015," Fayose sneered. The governor also pointed out that the first paragraph of the committee report indicated that it used 2007-2015 as a reference, stressing that the committee "analysed procurement contracts awarded by or for the Nigerian Army between 2007 and 2015."
COAS Buratai was recently exposed as the owner of two luxury apartments, worth $1.5million, in Dubai, United Arab Emirates. He claimed to have bought them from “personal savings.”
Following strident nationwide criticism, the Federal Government then announced its approval of further investigations into the purchase of military hardware and weaponry from 2007. Among the subjects of a further probe, disclosed the panel handling the investigation, are two former Chiefs of Army Staff, Generals Anthony Ihiejirika and KTJ Minimah; former Foreign Affairs Minister Nurudeed Mohammed; and three former Defence Ministry permanent secretaries.