There are strong indications that the Defence Headquarters will this week set up a panel on its officers who are being investigated by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission over alleged fraudulent arms purchase.
SUNDAY PUNCH reliably gathered on Saturday that besides facing the EFCC’s investigations, the affected serving officers would face the military panel, which the Defence Headquarters might constitute this week.
President Muhammadu Buhari had on Friday ordered the EFCC to investigate 17 serving and retired military officers, including the past Chief of Defence Staff, Air Chief Marshal Alex Badeh (retd.); a former Chief of Air Staff, Air Marshal Dikko Umar (retd.) (2010 -2012) and the immediate past Chief of Air Staff, Air Marshal Adesola Amosu (retd.), in alleged fraudulent arms purchases between 2007 and 2015.
The 11 serving officers that will be investigated by the EFCC, who will also face the military panel, include Air Marshal A.M. Mamu (Chief of Administration, Nigeria Air Force); AVM Oguntoyinbo (former Director of Production, Defence Headquarters); AVM T. Omenyi (Managing Director, NAF Holdings); and AVM J.B. Adigun (former Chief of Accounts and Budget).
Others are AVM R. A. Ojuawo (Air Force Tactical Air Command, Markudi); AVM J.A. Kayode-Beckley (Director, Armament Research in Air Force Research and Development Centre); Air Cdre. A.O. Ogunjobi; Air Cdre G.M.D. Gwani; Air Cdre A.Y. Lassa; Col. N. Ashinze (Special Assistant to the former NSA, Dasuki;) and Air Cdr. S.O.Makinde.
An Air Vice Marshal is an equivalent of a Major-General in the Army, while an Air Commodore is on the same level with a Brigadier-General.
It will be recalled that Buhari had last year set up a committee to audit the purchase of defence equipment between 2007 and 2015.
The committee, in its report, said that it discovered that N643bn and $2.1bn were received for defence procurement between 2007 and 2015 by Defence Headquarters and the military services.
Based on the N197-to-the-dollar official exchange rate of the Central Bank of Nigeria, the sum of $2.1bn translates into a total of N413.7bn.
The $2.1bn (N413.7bn) when added to the N643bn, gives a total sum of N1.067tn that was received for defence procurements by the Defence Headquarters between 2007 and 2015.
It stated that N29bn and $2bn were expended on procurement by the Nigerian Air Force during the period.
A senior military officer, who spoke to SUNDAY PUNCH on condition of anonymity on Saturday, said the defence authorities had started a process of setting up a military panel that would also investigate the arms procurement scandal.
The senior military source explained that the affected senior officers of the armed forces would face the administrative process of facing a military panel or be relieved of their command positions.
The source said, “There are standard administrative procedures for doing things in the military when issues like this come up.
“The indicted officers are either relieved of their positions or they are summoned to appear before a panel which would make recommendations.”
The source, who could not speak on record because he was not authorised to speak on the issue, said the panel might be constituted this week.
The Acting Director, Defence Information, Brig.-Gen. Rabe Abubakar, also said the military authorities would not shield any personnel indicted in the ongoing probe from investigation.
He said the armed forces were totally committed to the President’s campaign against corruption because of the inimical effects of the scourge against national developments.
Abubakar said this while speaking with our correspondent on the telephone on Saturday.
He said, “Corruption frustrates development. Whoever is involved in corrupt practices should face the music because corruption has adverse consequences on all sectors of human endeavours. Corruption deprives the citizens from the expected getting benefits from the government.
“Our stance is that we are completely in support of any measure that would stop corruption in the military or in the civil sector. The military would do anything to support the fight against corruption which is a cardinal principle of this government.
“The present leadership of the military abhors corruption.”