There are indications that the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission has started an investigation into the activities of 20 companies recommended for further probe by the third arms scam report, The PUNCH has learnt.
It was gathered on Thursday in Abuja that no fewer than six of the companies would pay a total of N2.4bn as withholding tax for defence contracts between 2007 and 2015.
The investigation of the companies and the payment of the withholding tax were part of the recommendations made by the Presidential Committee on Audit of Defence Equipment in the Nigerian Armed Forces in its report, a copy of which was obtained by The PUNCH on Thursday.
It was gathered that the EFCC had pencilled down seven chief executive officers and four former top civil servants as the first set of people to be interrogated before the end of the month as part of its investigation into the firms.
It was learnt that they would be quizzed over N381bn that was allegedly spent illegally on arms procurement from 2007 to 2015.
The companies’ heads include the Chief Executive Officer of Doiyatech Comms Ltd; Mr. Amit Sade (an Israeli); and Naom Sade, who is also a director of the company; CEO of Bamverde Ltd, Col. Olu Bamgbose (retd.); CEO, Dalfam Nigeria Ltd, Alhaji Bello Mohammed; CEO, Baram International Nig., Alhaji Gujja Attom; and the CEO of SEI Nigeria Limited, Hima Abubakar.
It was gathered that those in the first batch of individuals to be interrogated included a former Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Defence, Alhaji Aji Goni (also formerly the Head of Service); a former Accountant General of the Federation, Mr. Jona Otunla; an ex-Permanent Secretary, Ministry of Defence, Usman Sanusi, and another former Permanent Secretary, E.O. Oyemomi.
A top source in the EFCC, who confided in The PUNCH, said, “All those listed in the first batch will soon be invited to tell the commission what they know. They have questions to answer relating to the contracts.”
The PUNCH gathered that the commission had started the process of recovering the N2.4bn withholding tax from six of the 20 companies.
The Air Vice-Marshal Jon Ode-led panel had last month submitted the third interim report to President Muhammadu Buhari.
The President subsequently gave the EFCC approval to investigate two former Chiefs of Army Staff (COAS), Lt.-Gen Azubuike Ihejirika; and Lt.-Gen. Kenneth Minimah; a former Minister of State for Foreign Affairs II, Dr Nurudeen Mohammed; and three former permanent secretaries in the Ministry of Defence – Mr. Bukar Goni Aji, Mr. Haruna Sanusi and Mr. E.O, Oyemomi – for alleged corrupt practices.
Our correspondents gathered that the EFCC was working on the recommendations of the committee that withholding tax should be recovered from some companies and individuals involved in arms contracts during the period.
The presidential panel, in its report, recommended that DYI Global Services Limited and Doiyatec Comms Limited should jointly pay N2,260,925,479 as withholding tax.
According to the report, the Ministry of Defence, between 2007 and 2008, awarded contracts for the procurement of assorted ammunition, 20 units of twin hull boats and six units of ambulances fitted with radios to the two companies.
It stated in part, “Assorted ammunition and 20 units of K-38 twin hull boats were awarded on October 6, 2008 at the cost of N2,730,000,000.00 and N3,120,000,000.00 to DYI Global Services Ltd and Doiyatec Comms Ltd for UN Peacekeeping and Niger Delta operations respectively.
“DYI Global Services Ltd had been paid N2,593,500,000.00, representing 95 per cent with the delivery of ammunition worth N1,744,183,705.31, only, (representing 63 per cent). Doiyatec Comms Ltd was paid N2,496,500,000.00, representing 80 per cent with the delivery of only eight out of the 20 boats, worth N1,248,000,000.00, representing 40 per cent.”
The report further stated that the two companies would pay any accruing interest on the amount collected for items not delivered.
It was learnt that the commission would also invite two ex-army officers, Col. A.A. Abubagaji, and Lt.-Col. E.L. Hussaini Boyi, to account for N35,000,000 paid by Suncraft International Ltd and Singapore Kinetics Technologies Ltd as withholding tax on a contract for the retrofitting of MK1 fast patrol crafts and procurement of 50 Scorpion fast patrol crafts respectively.
A source in the EFCC said although the Nigerian Army deducted the money from the contract sum, there was no evidence that it was remitted to the Federal Inland Revenue Service.
“Abubagaji and Boyi, who made the payment, will be invited to account for the withholding tax deduction,” the source added.
The panel also stated that Bamverde Nigeria Limited should pay N41,709,832 as withholding tax over a contract for the procurement of three units of Charlie Horse Level-1 Field Hospital on January 12, 2011, at the cost of N1,241,129,497.62 at a unit cost of N413,709,832.54.
“There was no evidence of payment of N41,709,832 as withholding tax by the company,” the report stated.
The panel recommended that TS-Y International Limited should pay N27,452,970 as withholding tax on a contract for the procurement of spare parts for artillery guns between November 2008 and December 2009 at the cost of N549,059,400.00
It said a company, Hadassa Investment Security Nigeria Limited, should be probed for non-delivery of N78,440,090 worth of items and non-payment of N93,090,090 as withholding tax on a contract in 2011 for the procurement of Twin Free Fall and Airborne Training Parachutes for Independent Day Celebration and Airborne Training, respectively at a combined cost of N290,300,000.00
It was gathered that the EFCC was investigating a presidential approval that granted waiver to Barnes and Tubbies for the payment of import duty, pre-shipment inspection and associated taxes for a N1,081,625,600 contract.
Besides the six companies which were recommended for investigation over alleged non-payment of withholding tax, others that are being probed over the contracts relating to defence equipment procurements include Baram International Nigeria Limited, SEI; Dalfam Nigeria Limited; 2020 Nigeria Limited; Chok Ventures; Clover Nigeria Limited and Westgate Global Trust Limited.
Others are Hercules Manufacturing Nigeria Limited; Conella Servives Limited; Phoenix Technology Trading Company; Richfield Technology Limited; Jiangxi 299 Metal & Stones; Berwick Integrated Ltd; and Rapiscan System Services Limited.