‘Jonathan, not me, approved arms procurement deals’
• DSS moves to enforce arrest order
• HURIWA wants probe extended to police
What Nigerians should expect from Tuesday’s arrest order issued by President Muhammadu Buhari against the immediate past National Security Adviser (NSA), Col. Sambo Dasuki, over alleged arms deals emerged yesterday when he said he was ready to open a can of worms — only when his trial begins.
Stressing that he did not approve military procurements, but former President Goodluck Jonathan did, Dasuki said: “I have a lot to tell Nigerians but in the interim, they should not believe some of the allegations as gospel truths. The good thing is that some of the key actors in the present administration were part of the past process being viciously challenged.
“As for my tenure as the nation’s NSA, I acted in the interest of the nation and with utmost fear of God. I did not use the office for any self-serving agenda. I occupied the Office of the National Security Adviser at a difficult moment in Nigerian history when terrorism was at its peak and I am leaving posterity to judge me accordingly.”
Dasuki spoke just as it became obvious last night that the Department of State Security (DSS) was ready to enforce President Muhammadu Buhari’s arrest order on the embattled former NSA.
Also, the Human Rights Writers Associations of Nigeria (HURIWA) yesterday applauded the president’s determination to recover all stolen funds from the Defence sector by releasing a report indicting some high profile erstwhile military personnel, including Dasuki.
The group, however, urged him to further subject the findings of the Presidential Committee to credibility test by globally tested and trusted firearms’ procurement auditors who have no political affiliations to either the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) or the All Progressives Congress (APC) to avoid claims of witch-hunt and targeted attacks on the opposition party and former President Jonathan. In a statement signed jointly by HURIWA’s National Coordinator, Comrade Emmanuel Onwubiko, and National Media Affairs Director, Miss Zainab Yusuf, the group demanded an expansion of the forensic investigative activities to cover procurements made in the Police sector. HURIWA described the Nigeria Police as ill-equipped and unprepared to professionally enforce the Rule of Law.
Buhari had, on Tuesday ordered the arrest of Dasuki and some unnamed culprits for allegedly siphoning billions of dollars earmarked for arms purchases. The President, while ordering the arrest, noted that the actions of the erstwhile NSA ridiculed the country and made the war against the Boko Haram terrorists group difficult.
Specifically, the 13-man panel found among other alleged anomalies, a N643.8 billion ($2.1bn) as extra-budgetary interventions; $2.3 billion (or N13.7bn) worth of failed contracts (53 out of 513 awarded between 2007 and 2015); and a N3.8 billion cash paid to a company allegedly without evidence of any contract;
But Dasuki last night re-iterated his readiness to “see” the Federal government in court, over the ‘allegations,’ describing the panel’s findings as ambiguous, presumptious and baseless.
A statement signed by the former NSA and issued yesterday in Abuja, said the report was jaundiced, just as due diligence was not adopted by the committee in the search for facts to arrive at credible conclusions, as “there was no contract awarded or equipment bought without approval from the then President and Commander-In-Chief.”
He faulted the manner in which he was singled out to be named in the saga, whereas the report supposedly suggested there were other ‘culprits.’ This, according to the former NSA, is “theatrical,” just as he stated that, in a ploy to gain public sympathy, the “presidency quoted some absurd findings, including extra-budgetary interventions, award of fictitious contracts, 53 failed contracts, payment for jobs without contractual agreements, non-execution of contracts for the purchase of four Alpha jets, bombs and ammunition.”
He said the Special Assistant to the President on Media and Publicity, Femi Adesina, who issued the statement, should have known better the extent of his involvement, as “a former President of the Nigerian Guild of Editors and a witness to history”. This, he said, was a propaganda to cast aspersions on Dasuki.
“To set the records straight, Nigerians should appreciate that the AVM Jon Ode-led panel did not invite the ex-NSA under any guise before arriving at its ambiguous findings,” he said.
“At least, fairness demands that the panel ought to hear from Dasuki instead of its recourse to hasty conclusions. If the panel had been more patient and painstaking, it would have been availed of all relevant documents on some of the jaundiced findings.”
The statement explained that Dasuki did not award the procurement contracts on behalf of the military, as it is not the convention with such contracts.
He said the allegations by the Presidency that the panel accused him (Dasuki) of awarding fictitious contracts between March 2012 and March 2015, is unfounded as “contrary to this claim, Dasuki was not the NSA in March 2012 and he could not have awarded any contract in whatever name. Ex-President Goodluck Jonathan appointed him NSA on June 22, 2012.
All contracts and accruing payments were with the approval of the President and Commander-In-Chief of the Armed Forces. Once the ex-President approved, the former NSA paid. So, there was due process for every purchase in line with regulations guiding arms procurement for the Armed Forces.
And Nigerians should note that all the services generated the types of equipment needed, sourced for suppliers most times and after consideration by the Office of the NSA, the President will approve application for payment. For sensitive sectors (military/security), there was no room for awarding fictitious contracts. The conclusions of the panel were presumptive, baseless and lacked diligence.
There were no fictitious contracts; contract sums were not diverted and the relevant services in writing acknowledged delivery of equipment. For all procurements, the Nigerian Army, the Air Force and the Nigerian Navy have their contractors.”
Dasuki backed this up with references to prove that the presidency was just desperate to hang some former public and military officers who served this nation at the risk of their lives.
“It is laughable for the panel to assume that four Alpha jets and 12 helicopters were undelivered. In a memo to the Office of the National Security Adviser (ONSA), referenced NAF/905/D/CAS of November 28, 2014, the immediate past Chief of Air Staff, Air Chief Marshal Adesola Amosu, acknowledged the receipt of the 4x Alpha jets attack aircraft and the helicopters.
On 10/21/14, the Chief of Air Staff also confirmed the receipt of F-7 N1 aircraft combination of 250kg bombs and accessories at $2,894,000 with the cost of freight at $1,200,000. The same Air Force confirmed getting 2xTri Shield 36DG Tactical radars.
“In another letter of December 1, 2014 signed by L.S. Alao (on behalf of the Chief of Air Staff), the Air Force said it received five containerized fuel storage and dispensing units with equipment.
The Nigerian Army wrote the ONSA to acknowledge the delivery of 14 armoured tanks. In a December 13, 2014 memo, the Brigade of Guards thanked ONSA for releasing N30m for RCA, Operation allowance for Troops on Op Urban Sweep II for third and fourth quarters of 2014. This is apart from the installation of CCT Cameras at the Brigade Headquarters, 2 backscatter bomb detection vans and other equipment.
“On November 26, 2014, the immediate past Chief of Defence Staff, Air Chief Marshal Alex Badeh sought for approval of the award of one pair of uniform (in the interim) for the Armed Forces at N165, 375 to El-Jahab Mubarak Nigeria and N330,750,000 for two pairs.
“These are some of the acknowledgment letters submitted to me by the end-users (the services). It is not for me to go and find out whether the equipment were delivered or not. I am not the one keeping the inventories.
To show that I have nothing to hide, I submitted a comprehensive list of all requests for procurements by the services, the items bought and those equipment being awaited to His Excellency, President Muhammadu Buhari long before I left office. If there were issues, I should have been questioned. I was just the clearinghouse, I did not award contracts to my company or proxies. There was no contract awarded or equipment bought without approval from the then President and Commander-In-Chief”.
He further said, “I am not a thief or treasury looter as being portrayed.” He explained that some of the revelations might endanger the security of the nation. “In order not to endanger the nation’s security,” I am ready for trial on all these allegations in order to prove to Nigerians that I did nothing untoward in office. We will certainly meet in court.”