The presidential panel set up by President Muhammadu Buhari through the Office of the National Security Adviser to probe arms procurement between 2007 and 2015 has submitted another report to the President, The PUNCH has learnt.
The latest report was the third report so far submitted to the President by the committee.
While the first interim report was submitted in November 2015, the second report was submitted in January following which Buhari ordered the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission to investigate 18 serving and retired military officers, mainly from the Nigerian Air Force.
The PUNCH gathered exclusively on Sunday that the latest report was submitted to the President last week.
“Yes, I can confirm to you that the President received the report during the week (last week) and he has since approved it,” a Presidency source, who spoke on the condition of anonymity, told our correspondent.
With the approval, the source said the EFCC had been empowered to go after those indicted in the fresh report.
Although he did not give details of the report, our correspondent learnt that most of those indicted in the latest report of the panel which has AVM J.O.N. Ode (retd.) as its chairman, were Army chiefs.
Another source however told The PUNCH that barring any last minute change of plan, the Presidency might release a few highlights of the report during the week.
“The fraud uncovered in this fresh report is massive. All things being equal, the government will be looking at the possibility of making highlights of the report public this week, probably during the Sallah break,” he said.
The PUNCH had reported exclusively that massive fraud was uncovered by the panel in the purchase of arms in the Army.
It was also reported then that Buhari had directed the panel to change tactics.
“The President has directed that we explore the option of prosecuting indicted persons immediately instead of first publicising their names thereby giving some of them the leeway to escape justice,” a source had told The PUNCH then.
The source added that efforts were already ongoing by the committee at that time to get across to the Attorney General of the Federation, Abubakar Malami (SAN), to discuss the prosecution of the freshly indicted persons.
A member of the House of Representatives during the Second Republic, Dr. Junaid Mohammed, had on Friday challenged Buhari to make public the contents of the interim report of the arms probe panel.
He alleged that a “cabal” within the Presidency had convinced the President not to make the report public because some of his trusted aides were indicted.
The former lawmaker said, “He (the President) has been persuaded by the three (members of the cabal) that publishing the report will embarrass the government.
“This is very strange and at best laughable because Buhari’s first administration in 1984 got into a lot of trouble with the media because of Decree 2 which makes it a crime to embarrass any public office holder.
“That made Buhari and his administration back then very unpopular. These characters in the Presidency, the cabal or the mafia or whatever you call them, are determined to make Buhari make the same mistake again.”
He explained that for the President to agree that the report should not be published because some people in his government would be embarrassed was a very strange manifestation of the Buhari he knew.
The medical doctor turned politician also said, “Nigerians demand that the interim report be made public and that there should be no sacred cows.
“In any case, anything they try to hide will be made public in due course because nothing remains permanently secret in Nigeria; Buhari himself knows that; others who have been in that position also know that.”
In announcing the establishment of the committee last year, the Presidency had given its mandate to include identifying irregularities and making recommendations for streamlining the procurement process in the Armed Forces.
Apart from Ode who is the panel’s president, the committee’s members include R/Adm J.A. Aikhomu (retd.); R/Adm. E. Ogbor (retd.); Brig. Gen. L. Adekagun (retd.); Brig. Gen. M. Aminu-Kano (retd.); Brig Gen. N. Rimtip (retd.); Cdre T.D. Ikoli; Air Cdre U. Mohammed (retd.); Air Cdre I. Shafi’i; Col. A.A. Ariyibi; Group Capt. C.A. Oriaku (retd.); and the acting Chairman of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, Mr. Ibrahim Magu.
The panel has Brig. Gen. Y.I. Shalangwa as its Secretary.
Following the submission of the panel’s second interim report, Buhari had on January 15 directed the EFCC to carry out further investigation into the alleged misconduct established against some retired and serving officers of the Nigerian Air Force and the Nigerian Army.
Those affected in the order included embattled former National Security Adviser, Lt. Col. Sambo Dasuki (retd.); a former Chief of Defence Staff, Air Chief Marshal Alex Badeh (retd.); and two former Chiefs of Air Staff, Air Marshal M.D. Umar (retd.) and Air Marshal Adesola Amosun (retd.).
The Senior Special Assistant to the President on Media and Publicity, Mallam Garba Shehu, had disclosed the President’s directive in a statement made available to journalists.
Shehu had listed others that the President asked the EFCC to probe to include: Maj. Gen. E.R. Chioba (retd.); AVM I.A. Balogun (retd.); AVM AG Tsakr (retd.); AVM A.G. Idowu (retd.);AVM A.M. Mamu; AVM O.T. Oguntoyinbo; AVM T. Omenyi; AVM J.B. Adigun; AVM RA Ojuawo; AVM JA Kayode-Beckley; Air Cdre SA Yushau (retd.); Air Cdre AO Ogunjobi; Air Cdre G.M.D. Gwani; Air Cdre S.O. Makinde; Air Cdre A.Y. Lassa; and Col. N. Ashinze.
He added that following the submission of the audit committee’s second interim report, the President had also directed the EFCC to investigate the roles of the officers as well as some companies and their directors in fundamental breaches associated with the procurements by the Office of the National Security Adviser and the Nigerian Air Force.
He gave the names of those affected to include: Messrs Societe D’ Equipments Internationaux; Himma Aboubakar; Aeronautical Engineering and Technical Services Limited; Messrs Syrius Technologies; Dr. Theresa A. Ittu; Sky Experts Nig. Ltd.; Omenyi Ifeanyi Tony; Huzee Nig. Ltd.; GAT Techno Dynamics Ltd.; Gbujie Peter Obie and Onuri Samuel Ugochukwu.
Others were Spacewebs Interservices Ltd.; Oguntoyinbo Tayo; Oguntoyinbo Funmi; Delfina Oil and Gas Ltd.; Chief Jacobs Bola; Mono Marine Corporation Nig. Ltd.; Geonel Intergrated Services Ltd.; Sachi Felicia; Mudaki Polycarp and Wolfgang Reinl.