Procurement wrongdoing blamed for 'thousands of deaths' in Nigeria's battle against Islamic...

posted by Anna Scott
28 November 2015

The alleged siphoning of billions of pounds from Nigeria's defence budget has been blamed for causing thousands of deaths in the country's battle against Boko Haram.

Several “illicit and fraudulent” financial transactions have been uncovered by an interim report into the procurement of arms and defence equipment by the Nigerian government, ordered by President Muhammadu Buhari.

A committee – set up by the Office of the National Security Adviser to audit armed forces and defence sector procurement from 2007 to the present – found evidence of ₦643 billion [naira] (£2.14billion) spent outside the Ministry of Defence’s budget.

The report also found evidence of payments totalling ‎₦3.85 billion (£12.8 million) made to a single company by the former national security adviser Sambo Dasuki, without any evidence of contractual agreements or fulfilment of tax obligations.

In addition, between March 2012 and March 2015, the committee alleges that Dasuki awarded “fictitious and phantom” contracts for the purchase of four Alpha jets, 12 helicopters, bombs and ammunition, which were never supplied to the Nigerian Air Force. The contracts, awarded in different currencies, totalled ₦2.2 billion (£7.4 million), $1.6 billion (£1.1 billion) and €9.9 million (£7 million).

Dasuki, who was dismissed from his position by Buhari in July this year, is on bail awaiting trial for charges of money laundering and unlawful possession of firearms. However, Nigeria’s director of public prosecution, Mohammed Diri, has issued a notice to the Federal High Court in Abuja to revoke bail on the basis of the new allegations.

President Buhari’s spokesperson Femi Adesina said: “It is worrisome and disappointing that those entrusted with the security of this great nation were busy using proxies to siphon the national treasury, while innocent lives were wasted daily.

“The findings made so far are extremely worrying considering that the interventions were granted within the same period that our troops fighting the insurgency in the north east were in desperate need of platforms, military equipment and ammunition.

“Had the funds siphoned to these non-performing companies been properly used for the purpose they were meant for, thousands of needless Nigerian deaths would have been avoided.”

Meanwhile, speaking at the National Democratic Institute in Washington, former Nigerian President Goodluck Jonathan, who was in power at the time of the alleged fraudulent transactions, has denied Dasuki's allegations that he gave approval for separate contracts for arms procurement worth $2 billion.

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