There is an ongoing court-martial of a brigadier-general, Lym Hassan who was secretly recorded allegedly threatening to “eliminate” President Muhammadu Buhari over a defence contract.
General Hassan is the coordinator of peacekeeping at the ministry of defence coordinator of peacekeeping at the ministry of defence.
As earlier reported, the President approved a $1,464,750 contract on September 26, 2016 for the relocation and refurbishment of Level 2 Ministry Hospital under the United Nations Multidimensional Integrated Stabilisation Mission in Mali (MINUSMA) following a directive from the UN.
Already, doubts have been cast over the genuineness of another presidential approval for the same contract at a higher rate of $1 million and dated November 9, 2016 — it is unusual for the Mr. Buhari to approve one contract twice, and for different sums.
In February 2017, the contract was awarded to Opems Integrated Concepts Ltd for $1 million for a two-month execution period ending April 2017.
However, the job was not done, and Nigeria failed to meet the August 2017 deadline for the relocation of the hospital.
The ministry of defence later issued a directive to serving military officers to go and execute the contract, which involved the supply of medical equipment as well as dismantling and re-assembling the hospital at a new camp.
Meanwhile, the Bulk of the original contract sum had allegedly been shared, and Hassan was said to have still demanded $600,000 from the contractor – Opems.
Unknown to Hassan, he was recorded while allegedly making the demand, according to a source. When the contractor asked if he was not afraid of Buhari’s anti-corruption war, Hassan allegedly retorted: “If the president queries us, we will eliminate him.”
The contractor later requested for an additional (“variation”) payment of $500,000 from the ministry, although the terms of the contract had stated clearly: “Please note that the contract price is fixed and no request for variation will be entertained.”
“With the charge sheet now reading that Hassan was spreading rumours that the president was dead, the game has changed. The facts of the matter have been tailored to throw him under the bus,” an insider told The Cable.
“Hassan has become the scapegoat but the bulk of the contract money was shared across board. He carelessly talked himself into trouble and he will carry the can for all those who participated in the bazaar.”
The source further said it is curious that the two offences for which Hassan is being court-martialled are totally unrelated.
“They said he was spreading rumour that the president was dead and that he also demanded a bribe from Opems. Which of the offences came first? If he was spreading rumour, why was he not arrested and court-martialled immediately?
“That was enough ground to arrest him. Did they wait for him to demand a bribe before finally arresting him? The answer is no,” the insider said, alleging that there is a serious cover-up going on at the ministry of defence.
A colonel and spokesman of Mansur Dan-Ali, minister of defence, Tukur Gusau had initially told newsmen that Hassan was being court-martially over a “different matter” and had nothing to do with the contract. But his statement has been contradicted by the fact that the charge sheet includes the controversial contract.
Officials at defence headquarters and ministry of defence told newsmen that they would want Buhari to set up a probe into the affair so that all who participated in the scandal will be brought to book — rather than just Hassan.