• Tuesday, June 25, 2024
businessday logo

BusinessDay

Arms procurement probe: CSO recommend judicial action against Dambazau and Buratai

dambuzor

The Coalition Against Corrupt Leaders (CACOL), a Civil Society Organisation (CSO), is calling for an independent and immediate investigation of the roles of the Minister of Interior, Abdulrahman Dambazau and the Chief of Army Staff (COAS), Tukur Buratai over the arms procurement scandal.

In an open letter dated July 20, 2016 and addressed to President Muhammad Buhari, the coalition equally called for investigation into the role the Code of Conduct Bureau (CCB) in the assets declaration processes undergone by the COAS and public officials generally.

dambuzor
Chief of Army Staff (COAS) Tukur Buratai & Abdulrahman Dambazau

In the letter signed by Debo Adeniran, Executive Chairman CACOL, the anti graft crusader said it found it curious that the duo of Dambazau and Buratai were excluded from the probe ordered by the President, following the approval of the recommendation of the Presidential Committee on the Audit of Defence Equipment Procurement in the Armed Forces led by AVM Jon Ode.

This is against the background that the duo were part of the top echelon of the military and partook in one or the other in the arms procurement processes within the period which the Presidential Committee reviewed.
The letter posited that, it is dialectical to include the COAS and Minister in the probe, for the purpose of transparency and fairness, the group was convinced that even if they are not guilty of any of the allegations that have been widely reported, there could still be witnesses, given the positions they occupied in the period under review.

“On the Code of Conduct Bureau, CCB, Your Excellency, the COAS is currently in the eye of the storm following the revelation that he owns two properties in Dubai, even though both the Army and the CCB have affirmed the respected General declared his assets when he passed through the asset declaration processes on two occasions.

“As widely reported by the media, the COAS has affirmed that the properties were declared with your Bureau when he underwent assets declaration on two occasions with the CCB and that he acquired the said properties with his ‘life savings’. It is has also been reported that the CCB corroborated the claims of the COAS.

“From empirical analysis, it is clear that the arithmetic does not add-up even if the General never spent a dime out of what he was to have officially earned since he joined public service via the Army. How a General with his ‘life savings’ and even possibly other legitimate means could afford the said properties is no doubt very questionable!

“Circumspection tells us that, it is the duty of the CCB to ascertain the value of all assets declared by public official before it, and bring to fore if discrepancies exist in the declarations. That is how other agencies like EFCC can swing into action to investigate if financial or economic crimes are being violated.

“The reason why the verification of the value of the assets of the COAS was not carried out by the CCB is suspicious and makes it crucial for the government to investigate the circumstances that led the CCB to clearing a public official whose assets value did not correlate with his life savings all put together and possibly other legitimate means”, the letter read.

A copy of the letter obtained by BusinessDay insinuated that, perhaps the agency was in cohorts with the COAS if the allegations against him are proved to be valid. And this is why the assertions by the Army and the CCB that Buratai had declared his assets and have been ‘cleared’ even without confirming whether the value of the Dubai properties under question were verified, and the source of the money used to acquire them, is not sufficient.

It was consequently averred that since at this stage, there is the possibility that the Army or some Army officials and the CCB or some of its officials may have been in cahoots with COAS over the allegations against him to cover up their negligence; their submissions on the saga remain suspect.

“We propose that the Army and CCB should hands-off the COAS case for an independent judicial action; this will expose if violations had been committed by officials of the Army and CCB or not, and will also exonerate the innocent and apply punitive against the culpable”, the group said.