By Oga Tom Uhia
- Is Buhari’s Kitchen Cabinet Crumbling?
- Abba Kyari’s plan to remove Magu, EFCC Boss
- Now empowered as NNPC board member to perpetrate more and cover up corruption
- Why DG, DSS is Involved
- The Mai Mota Connection
The end to the power struggle within and among the Special Aides and agencies members of the Buhari’s administration may not be in sight so soon as more revelations surface daily about the real cabal that has hijacked the day to day running of the government. When the senate president, Bukola Saraki announced recently that a cabal had hijacked Buhari’s government, the presidency was quick to refute that allegation and denied any such thing. This prompted us to quickly look for the meaning of cabal.
Cabal is a plot to carry out some harmful or illegal act. Synomyms: conspiracy. Therefore Saraki’s claim may not have been far from the truth after all. There seem to be this group of strong aides of President Buhari who have arrogated presidential powers to themselves and are waxing stronger by the day, while conspiring to bring down those who honestly mean well for this country in the fight against corruption.
Unknown to most Nigerians, these are the men that call the shots and carry out the president’s order and directives and in the process bend the rules to favour themselves and their cronies. Unfortunately they are today more corrupt by shielding the people the anti-graft agencies are fighting.
The once touted closely knitted Buhari’s kitchen cabinet consisting of a web of powerful Northern element now appears to be crumbling in the face of growing ego and interest conflicts, mutual suspicion as well as mounting allegations of corruption among its members, causing it to split into two strong opposing factions, PowerSteering investigations have revealed.
Few weeks back, June 22 to be precise, the nation’s media space was awash with stories of President Buhari’s meeting with hundreds of State House staff. The gathering which appeared to be a routine has since become subject of intense speculations
An early pointer to unease within the system was the quite grumblings that greeted Jalal Arbi, the State House Permanent Secretary, when he told the expectant members of the staff that they had been assembled to give President Buhari a warm welcome from his medical trip abroad.
Arbi was quoted as having said to Buhari “This is the congregation of your children privileged to work in the Villa. We have gathered to welcome you and reassure you of our commitment to integrity, accountability and most importantly fear of God. We pray God to continue to strengthen you and give you peace of mind and tranquility to govern”
No questions were entertained from the motley crowd once Mr President was done with his speech. The show of solidarity and support, inside sources confided in PowerSteering News Magazine were meant to conceal from Mr. President the growing disenchantment and to portray cohesion within and among the fractured leadership of the President’s closest aides, where there was none.
Coincidently, on the same day, news broke of a major conflict involving perhaps, two groups of the closest members of Buhari’s kitchen cabinet working at cross-purposes. An ego war was reported to have pitched Buhari’s Chief of Staff, Abba Kyari, Lawal Daura, DG, DSS, the Chief of Army Staff, Lt. General Tukur Buratai and Lt. Gen. Danbazzau, Minister for Interior on one side against the Chairman, Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, (EFCC), Ibrahim Magu, who allegedly belong to another group of strong men called the General Aliyu Gusau boys, among them the NSA, General Monguno, Air Commodore Umar Muhammed (rtd) popularly called “Mai Mota” and Minister of Defence Alhaji Dan Ali. According to our source, Magu only happened by chance to be friendly with this group who share the same ideology but not treated as equal with them. General Babagana Monguno is alleged to head this group.
The bone of contention that sparked up the most recent trouble, inside sources claim, was Magu’s “intransigence” over attempts by Abba Kyari and the DG, DSS, backed by Lt. Gen. Danbazzau, the Interior Minister and Attorney General and Minister for Justice, Abubakar Malami to pervert investigations and cover up corruption allegedly perpetrated by Jide Omokore of Atlantic Energy Drilling Concept Nigeria Limited (AEDCNL), a well known ally of Diezani Allison-Madueke, former Minister of Petroleum who is now embroiled in corruption scandal.
The in-fighting within the ranks is said to have been accentuated with the recent orchestrated arrest and detention of Air Commodore Umar Muhammed, a member of the presidential panel investigating arms procurement who is on the side of Magu and NSA. The arrest was on the orders of the DSS boss, a co-member of the same panel on the side of Abba Kyari. It was allegedly done in retaliation of Magu’s action on Omokore’s case which further strained the relationship between the DG, DSS and NSA.
According to our source, Gen. Monguno, who is a close ally of the retired Air Commodore was furious about the manner the DSS raided the Air Commodore Umar’s house before detaining him. Gen Monguno had repeatedly complained to some security officials close to him that Daura appropriated to himself the job traditionally assigned to the office of the NSA, our source said.
Sources say the exercise was meant to avenge the arrest and prosecution of Omokore and to spit Magu, the EFCC Chairman, as Commodore Umar is accused of acting as a front for him and Monguno who are both close in the alleged massive looting of state resources. The report alleged that a certain Air Commodore Umar Mohammed (rtd) a member of the Committee had been arrested for alleged fraud and that he was “fronting for some members of the committee” including “high ranking officials in the EFCC and ONSA”. Interestingly, Magu who heads EFCC happen to be the only member of the panel from EFCC and has systematically washed his hands off the allegation, apparently to save his skin and keep his job.
It was also revealed further that Mr. Kyari had threatened openly to deal with Mr. Magu following the recent raid of Lagos and Abuja offices of oil firm Sahara Energy’s involvement in crude oil swap deals running into billions of Dollars which the company benefitted from. The company is believed to have channeled millions of Dollars into president Buhari’s campaign in 2015. This threat was allegedly issued in the presence of the staff members in the Villa after the report published by SaharaReporters few weeks back about the Chief of Staff’s shady attempts to interfere with anti-corruption investigation. Our source further emphasized that the arrest of Umar, a member of the panel investigating arms procurement by the DSS was aimed purely at implicating Mr. Ibrahim Magu, and rubbish him before Mr. President so as to force him out of EFCC.
One other source had revealed that even after the arrest, the DSS had put pressure on Air Commodore Muhammed to implicate Monguno, the National Security Adviser, (NSA). It was revealed that Air Commodore Muhammed Umar has so far refused to budge, reportedly urging DSS to take him to court if they find he had committed any crime. He remained in detention in Abuja until 12th July 2016 when he was granted bail but not released because of the bail condition he had not met as at the time of going to press.
President Buhari’s National Security Adviser, Babagana Monguno and the Director General of the Department of State Security, Lawal Daura, have been locked in the bitter battle of supremacy for a while now. This cold war between two of the nation’s most senior security officers has festered to the extent that it is beginning to have implications on national security, government officials revealed.
The row started last August, when Mr. President directed the NSA to set up a committee to probe military procurement from 2007 – 2015. Multiple security sources revealed that as Nigeria’s secret police, it was taken for granted that the DSS would be represented in the committee. But at the point of selecting members of the panel, Gen. Monguno expelled the DSS representative, it was revealed.
The NSA explanation for his action was that he wanted the panel to be made-up of mainly retired military officers since it was purely military affairs and only a representative from the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, (EFCC), to be close-knit, to stem to the possibility of leakage of information about the committee’s work to the public before submission to Mr. President.
“The DG of the DSS found that insulting.” Our source said. “According to him it was rude to claim that an agency in charge of intelligence gathering and other serious confidential security issues for the entire country is not considered worthy of keeping information about a committee.” It is unclear if DSS is still included in the committee. From then the relationship between both men deteriorated and has not recovered, the official said.
Sometime last year, an online media outlet obtained a memo sent by President Buhari’s aide de Camp, Mohammed Abubakar, a Lieutenant Colonel, dated June 24, 2015 ordering DSS operatives to stay away from the interiors of ASO ROCK Presidential Villa, and restricting them to the perimeters of the Villa. Abubakar directed DSS operatives to steer clear of areas such as “Admin Reception, Service Chief Gate, Residence Reception, Rear Residence, Resident Gate, Office Reception, C-In-C Control Office, ACADE Gate, C-In-C Control Gate and Panama.
However, the personnel of the DSS in conjunction within other security forces are to man other duty beats/locations located with the immediate outer perimeter of the Presidential Villa.” He said in the memo. Despite a counter memo from the president’s Chief Security Officer, a DSS operative at the time, Abdulrahman Mani, who said Lt. Col. Abubakar’s directive should be ignored, DSS personnel still guard only the periphery of Aso Rock, the source said. Mr. Daura who is a kinsman of president Buhari, is still seething about that too,” our source added. According to our source, Mr. Daura had constantly accused General Monguno, a retired Major General and former Chief of Defence Intelligence, of supporting the expulsion of DSS from inner ASO ROCK. Traditionally, all the security agencies including the DSS are supposed to report to the NSA and regularly brief him on intelligence gathered and take directives from him. However, since both men no longer see eye to eye, the DSS stopped briefing the office of the NSA and hardly takes directives from that office, our source said.
However, Daura in defence have argued that the NSA was never available for his work since he has been too busy travelling around the world with Mr. President leaving a vacuum in the co-ordination of National Security. What on indictment.
Sources revealed to PowerSteering that the quite rumblings within the kitchen cabinet have not gone un-noticed, and that President Buhari is in his usual way of “silent drill” said to be chewing softly on the matter because of its sensitive nature, and his well-known stance against corruption. However, the two officials have stopped talking to each other, and the president has been unable to make them call a truce.
But at the turn of the recent events it is so glaring that Mr. President has taking side with the DG DSS/Abba Kyari’s group when he openly agreed to the tailoring of the Arms Audit Committee result in favour of General Dambazzau.
An insider accounts revealed to PowerSteering that very recently Ibrahim Magu of EFCC in order to disentangle himself from this messy power tussle between the two security giants had humbly in protest gone to Mr. President to see him and to intimate him with what had happened while he was away. Magu sincerely thanked President Buhari and asked if the administration’s fight against corruption was an all inclusive fight or a selective one with some exception to the fight. He then recounted to the president how his Chief of Staff, Abba Kyari and the DG, DSS Lawal Daura and their group had frustrated him and severally ordered the release of some suspects and even prevented him and the commission from affecting the arrest of some high profile suspects. Magu, Chairman of EFCC thanked Mr. President for giving him the opportunity to work with him for this short period of time as an Acting Chairman and appreciated him even if the president did not confirm his appointment afterwards. Magu further revealed to the president how the Chief of Staff had been a stumbling block to his anti-corruption war.
Prompted by this revelation, Mr. President, PowerSteering learnt commended Magu and gave his commission the go ahead to intensify the fight against corruption without minding whose ox is gored. The president gave approval for EFCC to go after all those indicted in the fresh report that has just been submitted to him by the presidential panel set up to probe arms procurement between 2007 and 2015.
He then promptly recommended Magu for confirmation through the office of the Vice President Yemi Osinbajo which we were reliable informed Abba Kyari frustrated the process while Lawal Daura his collaborators was also busy himself doing the background recheck on Ibrahim Magu to find a way of stopping his confirmation even as the President and Commander-In-Chief had ordered.
Two sources at the Presidential Villa in Abuja thereafter disclosed to PowerSteering that President Muhammadu Buhari’s Chief of Staff Abba Kyari who now doubles as the member of the NNPC Board of Directors in collaboration with the Senate President, Bukola Saraki have attempted to withdraw the letter of confirmation for the Chairman of Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, (EFCC) Ibrahim Magu from the Senate.
PowerSteering learnt that Mr. Magu’s confirmation letter, which is currently at the Senate, would be withdrawn and sent back to the Villa on the ostensible ground that it needed to be signed by President Buhari and not. Vice President Yemi Osinbajo who had allegedly signed the letter when Mr. Buhari was on medical trip to London. However, the letter was later read on the floor of the Senate on Wednesday 13th July, 2016 but does not mean approval and confirmation.
Abba Kyari’s Move to Remove Magu, EFCC Boss
A detailed account recounted to PowerSteering was that Abba Kyari, the Chief of Staff to President Muhammadu Buhari, along with the Director General of the Department of State Security (DSS), Lawal Daura, newspaper publisher Nduka Obaigbena and with full knowledge and support of the Interior Minister; Lt. General Abdulrahman Danbazzau and Attorney General of the Federation, Abubakar Malami have commenced a full-scale war against Ibrahim Magu, the Chairman of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC).
Under the scheme, Magu will allegedly be replaced systematically with a man, already identified, who is more amenable to the ways of Mr. Kyari and other kitchen cabinet person. Abba Kyari is insisting that Magu must not be confirmed and should be replaced against the wish and the directive of his boss, the president.
Sources at the presidency said that there has been a cold war between Magu and members of the president’s kitchen cabinet, who seek to interfere with ongoing corruption cases at the EFCC.
Matters reportedly came to a head recently when SaharaReporters did an exposé that revealed how the Chief of Staff perverted an investigation that the commission had commenced against a powerful indigenous oil company, Sahara Energy, with Mr. Kyari directly accusing Magu of being the brain behind the leaking of the story after he thought he had perfected the cover up.
Related issues of contention include the commencement of the trial of Jide Omokore, an alleged controversial and shady businessman known to have been involved in multi-billion naira oil deals with former Minister of Petroleum Resources, Diezani Alison-Madueke. The Chief of Staff had apparently assured Mr. Omokore that he would not be prosecuted by the EFCC having known him to be one of the financiers of the Buhari’s campaign in 2015. Omokore was alleged to have funded both Buhari and Goodluck Jonathan’s campaign and such funding was allegedly routed through Abba Kyari himself. So Mr. Kyari thinks that such a man should not be touched by EFCC under the present administration, given his previous contribution to the campaign that brought them to power.
Kyari and Daura have allegedly been collaborating to whittle down the pace of investigation in addition to issuing threat to some media organizations whose bosses are implicated in the arms procurement scandal, to slow down on the stories which would expose the extent of the company’s contribution in the presidential election which the president himself may not have known about.
Our sources further revealed that Magu’s letter of nomination to the senate for confirmation through Vice President having been successfully delayed by the Chief of Staff, Abba Kyari and the Attorney General of the Federation, Mr. Abubakar Malami (SAN) because of Magu’s “intransigence.” And now that Mr. Jide Omokore and Andrew Yakubu have both been granted conditional bail, while their defender from the presidency Mr. Abba Kyari has also been more empowered by his recent appointment as a member of the NNPC newly constituted Board, the Omokore’s case will be as good as dead and close on arrival. With the collaboration of the Minister of Justice, Abubakar Malami who in his capacity can frustrate the prosecution by EFCC, only God’s infinite mercy can save Magu. He will make sure the president does not sign the letter when it is returned from the Senate. The new Group Managing Director of NNPC, Dr. MaiKanti Kacalla Baru is from Bauchi State, the same geo-political zone with Abba Kyari, which makes it easier for manipulation in favour of Omokore, more so that Abba Kyari allegedly influenced the choice of Baru. The removal of Magu as planned will also seal the deal of letting Omokore off the hook, an analyst asserted. Coincidently Abba Kyari, Gen. Monguno and Ibrahim Magu are from the same Borno state. So the question is “whose interest is being protected if Magu is removed?”
On the part of the DSS, sources within the administration say Magu was alleged to have stepped on their toes by constantly questioning why they usurped the role of EFCC in carrying out raids into the homes of corrupt former government officials, which is the domain of the EFCC. Since there are matters of economic and financial crimes, the chairman of EFCC felt overran and shortchanged by the constant interference of the DSS in the raid of some selected suspects without collaboration and due intelligence sharing. The DSS reportedly raided at least 30 homes of officials and aides of former President Goodluck Jonathan, but allegedly managed to render meager sums of N47m and $1.943m only. Worse still, some of the monies allegedly recovered were never delivered to the federal government treasury and during reconciliation; some of the foreign currencies were allegedly found to be fake. The DSS operatives have been accused by many of being very dishonest in the disclosure of seized and confiscated property especially liquid cash since the present administration came to power, thereby questioning the rationale behind the fight against corruption of Mr. Buhari
To buttress that point, the sources cited the February raid on the Abuja home of the son of Ngozi Olojeme, who was removed as Chairperson of Nigeria Social Insurance Trust Fund, (NSITF) after Buhari came to power. It is strongly alleged by an informed insider that while the DSS agents reportedly found $500,000, only $50,000 was allegedly declared and delivered to the Treasury. Olojeme was never prosecuted either. If she had been arrested and properly investigated and interrogated, she would have revealed exactly how much money she lost. The most recent search and arrest of Air Commodore Umar Muhammed (rtd) is also a good example of the two agencies working at cross-purpose just to outwit each other and discredit Magu.
The tension between the EFCC and the DSS grew to unimaginable proportions June 19, 2016 when the DSS raided the home of a member of the Arms Probe Committee, Air Commodore Umar Muhammed (rtd) who reportedly had $1.5million hidden in his premises in Abuja from bribes he purportedly received on behalf of other panel members. The reporting of the story appeared only in ThisDay Newspaper, owned by Nduka Obaigbena, the publisher with a score to settle over how he was forced by the EFCC to return monies he collected from the office of the National Security Adviser for alleged compensation of his media house that was burnt, or contract that was never implemented.
A knowledgeable source in government and law enforcement told PowerSteering that Obaigbena was stopped from travelling to the United Kingdom few weekends back by airport immigration officials who told him he was on the EFCC no-fly list.
The source alleged that Mr. Kyari, a former member of the Editorial Board of Nduka Obaigbena’s ThisDay, then intervened, through the cooperation of the Interior Minister, General Dambazzau, following which Obaigbena was eventually allowed to travel the next day. Sources at the EFCC said that by securing Obaigbena’s travels, Mr. Kyari, the DSS DG and their group have apparently obtained his cooperation now to commence a media war on the chairperson of the agency.
Despite Obaigbena being on the security watch list of EFCC for being a partaker of the arms deals money, Mr. Kyari and Information Minister Lai Mohammed did not find it necessary to dine with him with a long spoon but recently organized a high-profile meeting between President Buhari and the Newspaper Proprietors Association of Nigeria (NPAN) at the presidential Villa in which the publisher featured prominently as NPAN president all to spite Magu and rubbish his fight against corruption. Mr. Mohammed had his own issues with Magu as well, as it is claimed that the EFCC boss had previously frozen about N10bn in funds of the National Broadcasting Corporation (NBC) as former officials there began last-minute looting. Mohammed intervened to get Magu to unfreeze the account so that it could be used while he awaited approval of his budget, but Magu refused. It will be recalled that, recently an online news had it that he had written and obtained some loan from some agencies under his ministry to enable him pay bills and travel expenses.
The minister also reportedly sent a request to the EFCC chairman to return monies retrieved from Obaigbena and other newspaper proprietors who were caught in the $2.1b scandal, but Magu also refused to budge. Furthermore, Mr. Magu and his officials are said to have extended their probe to others in the media that include another publisher of the Source News Magazine, Comfort Obi, whose account was also allegedly frozen. PowerSteering has it on indisputable authority that the Chief of Staff and Mr. Mohammed took those Newspaper proprietors to meet with President Buhari, but it was unclear if he gave them any concessions, but was only seen in a group photograph with them.
ThisDay’s role in releasing information about the arrest of the retired Air Commodore popularly called Mai Mota accused of receiving a bribe was consolidated as Nduka Obaigbena’s travel ban was lifted, one source revealed.
Speaking to our source by phone from London after his arrival, Obaigbena confirmed that he was actually stopped at the Murtala Muhammad International Airport but claimed it was because of an EFCC warrant left at the airport last December. He denied that anyone intervened to facilitate his travel thereafter, but did not state how the warrant was overturned except that he alleged that the head of the Immigration department in Abuja which everybody knows is under the supervision of Lt. General Dambazzau apologized to him by phone. Asked about his relationship with Kyari, he admitted that Kyari once served on the Editorial Board of his newspaper. PowerSteering has learnt from a reliable source that DSS is making frantic moves to embarrass Magu by inviting him for interrogation and possibly detain him over the claim that retired Air Commodore Umar Muhammed from Bauchi took $300K from some persons under corruption probe so that they could hold a meeting with Magu during his visit to IDP camps in Maiduguri weeks ago. It is unclear if Magu actually had such meetings, but we are sure Magu is not unaware of the fact that he is being haunted by those or friends of those he is haunting.
Air Commodore Umar Muhammed appears to be the best shot yet at Magu from the onslaught launched by Abba Kyari and his collaborators since it was revealed that Ibrahim Magu is more amenable with Air Commodore Umar Muhammed (rtd) and particularly General Monguno (rtd) and AVM John Odeh, (rtd) Chairman of the Committee on Arms Procurement investigation who have both worked for General Aliyu Gusau before their engagement. Although it is also alleged that Ibrahim Magu does not have any personal but only working relationship with (Air Commodore Umar) this group
It was revealed that General Monguno (NSA) recommended AVM John Odeh and Air Commodore Umar Muhammed to the president having been asked to form a committee, contrary to the other side of the story that it was Air Commodore Umar that even recommended virtually all the members of the committee to Mr. President being the arrow head that revealed the military dirty arms deals. This allegation is still unconfirmed but critics say the composition of that committee is lopsided and may not produce an unbiased report.
PowerSteering learnt that the Arms Procurement Investigation Committee had long been fractured along lines of bias, as pressure had mounted on them not to probe a former Chief of Army, Lt. General Abdulrahman Bello Danbazzau, who is now the Minister of Internal Affairs. Keen observers have continued to raise alarm over why Lt. Generals Ihejirika (rtd) and Minimah, the two Southerners would be investigated without Lt. Gen. Danbazzau if the period under review is between 2007-2015. Magu and a few others were said to have favoured inviting and investigating him, which may have been the reason why the report of the army came out without Dambazzau’s involvement. Dambazzau is alleged to been deeply implicated or indicted and removing his name would render the report of no effect.
It may also be one of the reasons why Dambazzau is alleged to be at war with NSA and the COAS, General Tukur Buratai whose team have allegedly worked seriously to make sure the report is totally extinguished. In defining their relationship, Monguno is alleged to have taken Dambazzau’s preferred job of NSA. He had hoped during and after the 2015 elections to be appointed the NSA after which he also looked forward to getting the Defence Ministerial position where he could influence the committee judgment in his favour to no avail.
An insider revealed that Dambazzau and Monguno’s strained relationship did not start today but dated back to the days of Abacha in the 90s when both of them were Academic Registrar and Academy Adjutant of the Nigerian Defence Academy respectively. Dambazzau was alleged to have been the spy within the system that spied on virtually and implicated every officer that was put into trouble during the Abacha famous coup including bogging Monguno’s office and interfering in his job in NDA.
However, at the time of going to press, an information reaching PowerSteering News Magazine revealed that there is tension and frantic scheming among former army chiefs and other top officers of the Nigerian Army as the Presidential Committee on Defence Equipment Procurement in the Nigerian Armed Forces released the result of its task and submitted same to President Muhammadu Buhari without Dambazzau’s name.
A reliably source close to the committee, which was set up by Mr. Buhari to probe the procurement of arms, ammunition and equipment in the military from 2007 to 2015, told PowerSteering that several top retired army officers were indicted and some had already schemed to suppress the content of the report, while Mr. President approved the persecution of Ihejirika, Minimah and 52 other officers.
Our source who described the report as “damning” and “explosive”, said retired top army officers indicted had included present Minister of Interior, Abdulrahman Bello Dambazzau, the immediate past Chief of Army Staff, Kenneth Minnimah, and his predecessor, Azubuike Ihejirika, but was later tailored by presidency to exclude Dambazzau and Buratai considered to be Northern Muslims and Buhari’s boys. Mr. Dambazzau was particularly mentioned as one of those who suppressed the content of the report through the help of Mr. President. He was appointed the Chief of Army Staff by late President Umaru Yar’Adua, and served between 2008 and 2010.
Our source explained that the committee uncovered a whole lot of things including the outright stealing of money meant for equipment for the army, inflation of contract, diversion of money for soldiers’ welfare, money for the rehabilitation of barracks and military facilities and many other corrupt practices.
In a sharp reaction, President Buhari’s critics on Friday the 15th July, 2016 carpeted his government for allegedly lying about the terms of reference of the latest interim reports on the ongoing probe into arms procurement by successive governments since 2007.
Mr. Buhari had on August 24, 2015, raised the Committee on Audit of Defence Equipment Procurement in the Nigerian Armed Forces to keep with his “determination to stamp out corruption and irregularities in Nigeria’s public service.” But many are now raising concerns not about what the committee included in its latest report but what it might have deliberately left out.
The investigative committee submitted its third interim report on Thursday, the 14th July 2016 which detailed how former senior military officers, political appointees and private individuals allegedly channeled security funds into their pockets while the war against Boko Haram floundered. Among the big names the report indicted were Azubuike Ihejirika and Kenneth Minimah. Both served as Chief of Army Staff under President Goodluck Jonathan.
But government critics immediately raised concerns about the exclusion of the name of a close ally of Mr. Buhari and the current Minister of Interior, Abdulrahman Dambazzau.
Mr. Dambazzau served as the chief of army staff between 2008 and 2010 and critics said it was highly curious that he was not investigated even when the probe was designed to capture all procurements from 2007 to 2015. Our findings show that those accusing government of doctoring its latest arms panel may have a point.
Buhari Government’s Claim
In an attempt to ward off allegation of bias, the Buhari government, via a statement from the office of the Minister of Information and Culture, Lai Mohammed, said Mr. Dambazau’s name was not included among those indicted because the third interim report only looked into procurement and contracts awarded for and by the military between 2011-2015.
“When the documents regarding procurement from 2007 to 2010 are available and scrutinised, the committee will then issue its report on that,” Mr. Mohammed said in a statement signed by his media adviser Segun Adeyemi. “The audit is being done in phases, and the report that was released on Thursday is the third of such.”
A PowerSteering examination of the report showed that the terms of reference in its heading said it queried all procurement from 2007 to 2015. “Press Release on the Third Interim Report of the Presidential Committee on Audit of Defence Equipment Procurement from 2007 to 2015,” it read. The first paragraph of the seven-page report also indicated the 13-member committee used 2007-2015 as reference. “In continuation of its assignment, the Committee on Audit of Defence Equipment Procurement (CADEP) in the Nigerian Armed Forces, analysed procurement contracts awarded by or for the Nigerian Army between 2007 and 2015.”
PowerSteering also observed that in page two of the report, the committee looked into procurement far back as 2005, two years earlier than 2007.
“Similarly, between 29 April 2005 and 19 October 2010, the MOD (Ministry of Defence) awarded 2 contracts to Progress Limited for the supply of 42 units of BTR-3U Armoured Personnel Carriers and spare parts for the Nigerian Army.
“However, neither the MOD nor the NA could provide the contract agreements to ascertain the cost of the APCs. Although 26 of the APCs were delivered in 2007 and immediately deployed for Peace Keeping Operations in Sudan, the APCs scandalously broke down on induction,” the report read in part.
In page four where the committee looked into tax infractions in the military, it was also revealed that the members looked beyond 2011. “The Committee observed breaches of laws and regulations on payments of With-holding Tax (WHT) and Value Added Tax (VAT). The unremitted WHT from 2007 to 2015 amounted to about N862,962,065.99, $2,093,710.06 and €2,700.00 respectively.”
Premium Times had also reported on July 7, citing top administration sources, that Mr. Dambazzau’s name was amongst those indicted by the panel and that he was making concerted efforts to have his named removed, and he has succeeded.
Also reacting to the earlier accusation, the EFCC in a press statement had contended the ThisDay report linking the agency to corruption associated with retired Air Commodore Umar, that this is simply a case of corruption fighting back.
The Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) has challenged anyone who has evidence that a member of the Presidential Committee on Arms Procurement was arrested by the Department of State Security has any link with the commission to come forward and present it. The agency therefore decried the report as untrue and an attempt to tarnish its efforts and image in the sight of less discerning Nigerians and members of the International Community regarding the integrity of its Acting Chairman.
However, a background check revealed that the retired Air Commodore was previously married to late oil Minister Rilwanu Lukman’s daughter and the widow of late Lt. Gen. Haladu who was a Minister in Abacha’s government divorced. An opportunity which he allegedly exploited very well to the fullest and got stupendously rich and influential, as he has always lived a flamboyant lifestyle close to most former heads of state and presidents, including late president Umar Yar’Adua. It was alleged that his marriage to Lukman’s daughter and Haladu’s widow broke-up because he had allegedly sold two of her landed properties strategically located in Abuja without her prior consent.
Our investigations also revealed that Umar was the best man in Isa Yuguda’s marriage to Umaru Yar’Adua’s daughter. He was also allegedly involved in the disappearance of the Bauchi State owned Embraer ERJ 145 aircraft which was finally recovered some time in Sept., 2015 after the incumbent governor Mohammed Abubakar had suggested that the aircraft was stolen by his predecessor and hidden in Morocco. Those who know him well characterized him as a conduit for passing funds to other heads of state and governments in Africa. During former President Jonathan’s era, for instance, he was alleged to have been a go-between several African Heads of State, particularly those of Chad, Niger and Ghana. He runs a massive office in Abuja that surpasses any presidential office in Africa in terms of lavished furnishing where he refers to himself as “Don”
His posh homes at No. 4 Lundi Close Off Mississipi Street, Maitama and No. 1 Gado Nasko Street, Asokoro all in Abuja reportedly have at least 50 luxury cars, including Rolls Royce, Ferrari, Buggatti, BMW 750 and many others. He was regularly in the company of high-profile local and international visitors. Former FCT Minister, Bala Mohammed who came from the same state with him was a regular visitor to his home, and he reportedly was involved in passing money to the Chadian government during the botched Boko Haram negotiation involving Hassan Tukur, the former Principal Secretary to President Jonathan, who was also arrested weeks back.
It is unclear how the retired Air Commodore, given such profile, was put on a panel by the Buhari government to investigate high-profile corruption cases when he himself needed to be investigated, a man whom the government had blacklisted before now. But reliable source revealed that General Monguno, the NSA was the one who first introduced him to Mr. President when he needed to reveal what he knew about the back hand dealings in the armed forces – arms procurement as it was claimed that Mr. President did not know him previously. He automatically became part of the committee because of the information he had.
If Magu is removed from the leadership of the EFCC, the Chief of Staff and his collaborators plan to replace him with another police officer so far simply identified as “Abdulrahman” an instructor at the Nigerian Police College in Kaduna.
“Abdulrahman” is said to have once worked with Farida Waziri, during the darkest days of impunity and corruption in Nigeria, and appears to be the kitchen cabinet’s perfect replacement for Magu as they will control him just as Farida was controlled by Umar Yar’Adua’s Aso Rock gang. But popular opinion sampled so far have urged Mr. President to quickly confirm Magu as the preferred man for that office because of his boldness and resilience.
The DSS interference with EFCC line of duty and probe, our sources were unanimous, could aimed at generating a report that would end Magu’s tenure and tarnish his image.
In reaction to Abba Kyari and Lawal Daura’s rising and uncontrollable profiles someone said, “if Buhari cannot find the conviction to chop off the head of the crocodile he has reared as a pet in Aso Rock,” he continued “his anti-corruption claims will be in silent mode by the time he returns from the United Nations General Assembly in September, and will be the laughing stock of the world by the time he reads his Christmas speech.
As the web of conspiracy continues to widen and the venom of the deep seethed hatred between and among the two cliques begin to gather, dirtier revelations are made daily. PowerSteering also reliably gathered in the cause of this investigation that the Director General of DSS is on a wide goose chase after the recently retired Army officers for being responsible for the controversial revelation of the ownership of the two Dubai-based properties valued at N4.3billion ($1.5)million) allegedly purchased by Lt. General Tukur Buratai.
Reliable sources told PowerSteering that the Department of State Security (DSS) may have placed some recently retired Army officers on surveillance on the belief that they may be the principal sponsors of the disclosure, which they see as a smear campaign on military top brass. How this is DSS business, many have wondered, but many observers say it is also good for the country as the DSS now serve as a strong check on the EFCC operations.
The Army, last month, sacked 50 officers over charges bordering on corruption.
PowerSteering News Magazine gathered that the revelation on Buratai’s Dubai interest might be the handiwork of some of the retired officers itching to get back at the COAS for booting them out of office.
It will be recalled that just returning from a needed medical vacation cum rest in London for a ‘troubling’ earache brought on by an infection, President Buhari had barely settled in than a latest scandal relating to his top Army General broke the media waves.
Buhari’s select Army Chief who restored the Nigerian army’s fighting capacity to its pre-Jonathan reputation, Lieutenant General Tukur Buratai was revealed to have acquired $1.5million in personal properties in Dubai between 2014 and 2015, at the height of the prior era of cataclysmic army funds diversions the Buhari government was given its victory to curb.
Saharareporters had revealed that the Army General, then a Major General on a salary of less than $3,500/month, purchased properties of $419,826 and another of over a million dollars with payments made in wholesome chunks which earned him purchase incentives. The damning reports implicated a fellow Major General Emmanuel G. Adegbola who was allegedly used as Buratai’s middleman in the lodging of massive deposits in Skye bank accounts to pay for the tasty Dubai Properties. This revelation political watchers say may not have been unconnected with the on-going battle of supremacy within and among the close aides of Mr. President and even the recent retirement in the Army.
Multimillion dollar estates and farms were also exposed to be owned by the Army Chief who has been accused of being part and parcel of the very problem Buhari was handed his victory to dismember. While surprisingly denied by the Nigerian army, being subverted into an instrument that defends its leaders of their personal and political issues, facts have shown even in his personal data on the internet that then Major General Buratai was appointed the head of Procurement of Defence Headquarters. The Director of Army Public Relation Col. S.K. Usman had argued that Gen. Buratai had at no time been in the army Procurement office. But is on record that Buratai as a Major General was the Director of Procurement in the Defence HQTS which is definitely higher by rank and responsibilities than the Army HQTS. While Usman may logically be right, Buratai had been in a place of procurement at that point when large amount of money meant for arms and ammunitions was diverted. He was alleged to be a prized member of the Dasuki-Jonathan-Badeh-Gusau corrupt military machine that looted billions of dollars in funds meant to fight Boko Haram. His promotions and silence while his backyard was being destroyed by Boko Haram suddenly seems to have a fat explanation.
At the time of going to press, the Army General is yet to publicly defend himself of the latest allegations against his person and continues to divert the military official apparatus, unconstitutionally engaging its official spokespersons to defend him of his personal troubles. Tested defenses have varied from “his wives did it” to “its shared property and not his own alone.” The defenders of the accused General have surprisingly labeled the media and activists that exposed these allegations of gross corruption as “terrorists” promising to unleash a sponsored “cyber army” against them. Although it won’t be the first time security agencies of the state during the current administration have been accused of sponsoring cyber-warriors to attack activists and reporters over damning reports of agency corruption or murder, but it will be surprising if this will give the media a bad name just to hang it.
While that may be going on, the opposing camp are also not resting on their oars or taking chances but planning a big exposé to reveal the antecedence of the DG, DSS, Lawal Daura and Minister of Interior, Lt. General Abdulrahman Dambazzau’s career who many believe and alleged did not have clean past enough to be involved in the Buhari’s war against corruption. The outcome of the in-fighting will be in the open in the weeks ahead while we wait anxiously to see who blinks first.