The Nigerian Army has joined the bandwagon of the Buhari government with a recently issued order from its Chief of Army Staff. With the virtue of transparency that has come to play in the Buhari administration, it is obvious that Nigeria is rapidly going past the era when a single official of the government can own properties worth millions of dollars in and outside the country when his monthly salary can hardly buy a plot of land in a choice area of the country.
Following the embarrassing number of top military officials involved in the $2 billion arms deal scandal, the Chief of Army Staff, Lieutenant General Tukur Yusuf Buratai, has ordered all officers of the Nigerian Army under his command who are yet to declare their assets to do so without further delay.
In keeping with a statement delivered on Wednesday, 20th January by Colonel Sani Kukasheka Usman, the Acting Director, Army Public Relations, the directive was issued by the Army Chief in the course of a conference with Principal Staff Officers and Directors who are serving at the Army Headquarters.
As recorded in the statement,
“It is to be noted that the Chief of Army Staff had done so soon on his appointment as Commander, Multinational Joint Task Force in May 2015 and also on his appointment as Chief of Army Staff in July 2015. Copies of both are with the Code of Conduct Bureau.
“This directive is in order, considering the fact that all military officers are having the Presidential Commission and are public servants, as well as subject to both civil and military laws.
“In addition, given the current drive of the country for probity and accountability, the Nigerian Army should not only key in but should be one of the key drivers for such laudable project.”
The present Buhari-led administration has made it clear that it is out to fight corruption to a halt and to “clean the mess” made by the immediate past government. In keeping to that, the president commissioned a panel of investigation to find out how billions of dollars allocated for the purchase of military arms during the heat of the Boko Haram war vanished from the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN).
The Nigerian Armed Forces have been on the center of the stage since it was discovered through the audit that a large number of retired and serving military officers may have been a party to the billion dollar worth of weapons procurement deal scandal.
The arms deal story began with the retired Nigerian Army Colonel and former National Security Adviser (NSA) to President Goodluck Jonathan of Nigeria, Sambo Dasuki who was accused of awarding “phantom contracts” for the purchase of 12 helicopters, 4 fighter jets, bombs and ammunition worth $2 billion, meant to beef up the military against the Boko Haram jihadists. Unfortunately, they were never bought.
According to PUNCH,
“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.”
Some Nigerians are of the opinion that the former president should also be questioned over the arms deal scam, because he was in the best position to tell Nigerians the part he played being the consenting authority in the arms scam.