Out of the blues, the presidency released a statement on Wednesday night alleging that a 13 man committee set up by the president to probe arms procurement in the defence sector from 2007 to date “unearthed several illicit and fraudulent financial transactions.”
Of all the men who served as national security advisers and military chiefs during the period, Sambo Dasuki, the ex-NSA from 2012 to 2015, who is currently facing money laundering charges in court, was singled out for mention in the statement as one who siphoned humongous funds.
The report shocked most Nigerians for the sheer size of allocationshwhich had gone into the defence sector in the last few years. However, a careful look at the statement showed two red flags: First, why was the presidency in a haste to release the interim report? For a sensitive matter like that, why couldn’t it wait for the committee to conclude its work? And secondly, why didn’t the presidency wait at least until the committee had given Sambo Dasuki the opportunity to defend himself? Why publish such damning allegations without observing first the principle of fair hearing in order to at least give your conclusions more weight?
Now Dasuki has released a statement which shows that at best the interim report of the committee was not thoroughly done and at worst that it was a biased job working towards an answer. In Dasuki’s view it was a report filled with “absurd findings” done to draw sympathy by making allegations against him over “extra-budgetary interventions; award of fictitious contracts; 53 failed contracts; payment for jobs without contractual agreements; non-execution of contracts for the purchase of 4 Alpha jets, bombs and ammunition.”
It’s hard to believe that the job of the committee was thorough when it couldn’t even get the period when Dasuki served as NSA right. It accused him of awarding fictitious contracts between March 2012 and March 2015, whereas he became NSA on June 22, 2012 and so “could not have awarded any contract in whatever name” by March.
The other claims by Dasuki in his new statement makes it a case of his word against theirs, which is why the AVM Jon Ode-led panel ought to have adhered to the principle of fair hearing by inviting him before releasing any sort of report (interim or otherwise). It would have even made a bit more sense if the presidency statement had claimed that Dasuki was invited by the committee but failed to show up. No, it simply didn’t invite him.
“If the panel had been more patient and painstaking, it would have been availed of all relevant documents on some of the jaundiced findings,” Dasuki claimed, before insisting that “all contracts and accruing payments were with the approval of the President and Commander-In-Chief of the Armed Forces. So, there was due process for every purchase in line with regulations guiding arms procurement for the Armed Forces.”
He said the conclusions of the panel were presumptive, baseless and lacked diligence because “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.”
According to Dasuki:
“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.
“While awaiting judicial process on these allegations, it is proper to make some references to show 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 4 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 acknowledgement 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 clearing house, 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. I am not a thief or treasury looter as being portrayed.
“In order not to endanger the nation’s security, there are many salient issues and contracts which I cannot put in public domain. 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.
“I have a lot to tell Nigerians but in the interim, they should not believe some of the allegations as the gospel truths. The good thing is that some of the key actors in the present administration were parts 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.”