Tongues have been wagging over the “exclusion” of former army chief and now interior minister Abdulrahman Danbazau and current chief of army staff Tukur Yusuf Buratai from the list of those to be probed following President Muhammadu Buhari’s approval of the recommendation of a panel investigating defence equipment procurement from 2007 to 2015.
Gen. Danbazau served from 2008 until 2010. Buratai was appointed army chief last year, but he was director of procurement within the probe period. But former army chiefs Azubuike Ihejirika and Kenneth Minimah and other officers are among those indicted. The committee found a number of irregularities in contract awards involving more than N380billion fraud.
In a rebuttal on Friday, the minister of information and culture, Alhaji Lai Mohammed, said the report was not doctored as alleged, as what has been released so far is the report of the audit covering the period 2011 to 2015, adding that the committee would commence the audit of procurement from 2007 to 2010 as soon as the necessary documents were available.
“When the documents regarding procurement from 2007 to 2010 are available and scrutinized, the committee will then issue its report on that. The audit is being done in phases, and the report that was released on Thursday is the third of such,” the minister said.
He assured that the federal government’s anti-corruption fight is non-discriminatory, calling on Nigerians to keep an open mind as events unfold.
“No one should attempt to distract from the seriousness of the issues involved in this audit of defence equipment procurement. It is important to note that even though the total amount spent for procurement and operations within the period was N185,843,052,564.30 and $685,349,692.49, the irregularities in the awards ensured that the military did not get value for money, with very serious consequences,” the minister stated.
The Third Interim Report of the Presidential Committee on the Audit of Defence Equipment, which was released on Thursday, indicted more than 50 people. Among those to be investigated are 18 serving and retired military personnel, 12 serving and retired public officials and 24 chief executive officers of companies involved in the procurement.