A frontline Second Republic politician and Northern leader, Dr. Junaid Mohammed told The Guardian yesterday that some cabal in the Presidency doctored the Arms Procurement Probe Report to shield the former Chief of Army Staff and Minister of Interior, Major General Abdulrahman Dambazau (rtd) and former Director of Procurements, Defence Headquarters, who is also current Chief Of Army Staff, Major General Tukur Buratai.
Mohammed said: “Nigerians should recall that the three Chiefs of Army Staff who served during the period under review included Major General Abdulrahman Dambazau, who is also the current Minister of Interior, Major General Azubuike Ihejirika, Major General Kenneth Minimah and Major General Tukur Buratai, who before his appointment as the current Chief of Army Staff, was Director of Procurement, Defence Headquarters for years.
“The Report of the Committee was doctored in the Presidency by some cabal after it was submitted, to shield Dambazau and Buratai who were allegedly indicted.
“Dambazau is a close ally of Alhaji Mamman Daura, who is President Buhari’s nephew, and also head of the ‘cabal’ in Buhari’s presidency today. Buratai is an ally of Dambazau and President Buhari. So there is no way the Presidency will not shield the duo.”
Mohammed said that there was no way Buratai and Dambazau would not have been indicted in the Report, having served as director of procurement in the Defence Headquarters and Chief of Army Staff under the period reviewed.
“Why is Ihejirika under any form of detention now? Why is he being harassed, when the Presidency is shielding some persons indicted in the report? Is it because he is not President’s ally or not from the North? President Buhari should publish the original copy of the Report, the way that of Nigerian Air Force mess was made public.
“Nigerians should know that as far as the cabal holds sway in Aso Rock, nothing will happen to Dambazua and Buratai,” Mohammed noted.A source in the Presidency who craved anonymity told The Guardian that Dambazua was not indicted in the Report, because during his era as Chief of Army Staff, awarding of contracts and procurement of arms was being carried out by the Ministry of Defence, not office of the Chief of Army Staff.
“It was after Dambazua left office that his successor took charge of awarding of contracts and procurement in the service. So there is no iota of truth in the allegation that the report was doctored to shield him.”
On why Mohammed is alleging that the report was doctored to shield Dambazua, the source said: “You know that Mohammed and Dambazua are from Kano State. It has something to do with politics of the State, and choice of minister from the State. Some persons from the state preferred somebody else, specifically President Buhari’s longtime ally who got himself involved corruption act, not Dambazau, to be minister. They are not comfortable with his choice, but that was the President’s decision.
However, the Federal Government yesterday said there is no truth in the insinuation that the report of the Presidential Committee on the Audit of Defence Equipment Procurement in the Armed Forces (2007-2015) was doctored for whatever reasons.
Minister of Information and Culture, Alhaji Lai Mohammed, who stated this in a statement in Abuja, said what has been released so far is the report of the audit covering the period 2011 to 2015, adding that the Committee would commence the audit of procurement from 2007 to 2010 as soon as the necessary documents are available.
He said: ‘’When the documents regarding procurement from 2007 to 2010 are available and scrutinized, the committee will then issue its report on that. The audit is being done in phases, and the report that was released on Thursday is the third of such.’’ He assured that the Federal Government’s anti-corruption fight is non-discriminatory, and called on Nigerians to keep an open mind as events unfold.
No one should attempt to distract government from the seriousness of the issues involved in this audit of defence equipment procurement. It is important to note that even though the total amount spent for procurement and operations within the period were N185,843,052,564.30 and $685,349,692.49, the irregularities in the awards ensured that the military did not get value for money, with very serious consequences,’’ the Minister said.