Account For N7.5bn Arms Fund, Contract Panel Tells Ex-army Chiefs
The Presidential Committee on Audit of Defence Equipment Procurement (CADEP) has recommended that two former Chiefs of Army Staff -Lieutenant-Generals Azubuike Ihejirika (rtd) and Kenneth Minimah- be asked to account for the utilisation of N7,598,977,828.62 funds during their tenures.
The panel in its report said the money was expended on ‘purposes incompatible’ with the projects for which it was approved and released in the first instance.
It also gave an insight into why the war against Boko Haram turned difficult for the armed forces.
The AVM JON Ode committee said most of the platforms and ammunition procured for the Army and deployed for the Northeast operations were over aged or had expired while support spares were insufficient or completely not available.
“The platforms were prone to frequent breakdown without immediate recovery support,” it said.
“The non-adherence to the procurement procedures resulted in the procurement of some unreliable equipment that reduced the capacity of the Nigerian Army in the NE operations and resulted in avoidable loss of lives and equipment.”
The army authorities, the panel pointed out violated the Public Procurement Act between 2007 and 2015.
The presidency has commenced the implementation of the panel’s recommendations in phases beginning with the probe of those said to have mismanaged over $15billion.
The report said: “The Committee’s interactions with the field operators revealed that although the platforms and ammunition procured for the Nigerian Army were deployed for the NE operations, most of them were over aged or expired and support spares were insufficient or completely not available.
“The platforms were prone to frequent breakdown without immediate recovery support. The non-adherence to the procurement procedures resulted in procurement of some unreliable equipment that reduced the capacity of the Nigerian Army in the NE operations and resulted in avoidable loss of lives and equipment.
“Additionally, training of personnel for the NE was grossly inadequate, ineffective and inefficient. The officers and men had little or no knowledge of their comrades as most of them met their immediate commanders for the first time on arrival in the North-East (NE). The much desired confidence in commanders and comrades was almost totally absent.
“Likewise, the officers and men had very little working knowledge of the combat equipment.
“These anomalies therefore adversely affected the operations in the NE. Furthermore, the access to several sources of funding for procurement and operations made accountability difficult and encouraged profligacy.”
The panel also faulted non-compliance with the Public Procurement Act in its arms and equipment contracts between 2007 and 2015, saying: “Generally, it was observed that except for the procurement funded by the NNPC, virtually all the Nigerian Army procurement handled by MOD, Nigerian Army and ONSA were fundamentally not executed in compliance with the PPA 2007.
“The Committee further established that contracts were conceived without the involvement of relevant specialists and awarded to incompetent contractors.
“The non-conduct of pre-shipment inspection resulted in procurement of degraded, obsolete and wrong equipment in most cases resulting in the procured items not meeting the Nigerian Army’s operational requirement.”
In asking the Federal Government to ask the two former Chiefs of Army Staff, to account for the utilization of N7,598,977,828.62,the panel said: “It was established that the sum of N10,631,812,708.25 representing 55.54% of the total sum was expended on purposes for which the funds were approved and released.
“However, the sum of N7,598,977,828.62 representing 39.69% of the total sum was spent on purposes inconsistent with the requirements for which the funds were approved.
“The Committee for instance noted that out of the N4,156,500,000.00 released for Regular Recruit Training, the sum of N3,890,004,214.19 was expended on purposes incompatible with the approval such as AHQ Operating expenses – N543,913,420.00, COAS administrative expenses – N381,978,000.00, formations and units Operating expenses –N735,172,265.00, Nigerian Army Schools – N412,505,725.00 and Command Secondary Schools – N111,411,181.00 among others.
“Furthermore, the sum of N320,000,000.00 earmarked for the construction of detention facilities, sustenance of QRGs and FOBs and emergency procurement of combat requirements was expended on the construction of Nigerian Army Language Institute (NALI) Ovim, Abia State. “Out of this amount, the sum of N50,000,000.00 was paid into Brig Gen M Mamman’s personal account for the NALI project. It was also confirmed that the sum of N645,848,114.43 out of N1,129,394,064.13 was utilized for activities not related to the construction of detention facilities at both Giwa Barracks Maiduguri and Wawa Barracks New Bussa.
“The diversion of this fund truncated the construction of befitting detention facilities and consequently exposed Nigeria to international ridicule. The Committee further found that the sum of N620,000,000.00 representing 3.23% of the total sum being funds for Immediate Requirement for Operation BOYONA was not accounted for.
“It was further established that funds expended for the emergency procurement of 30 Mine Resistant Ambush Protected (MRAP) vehicles and other accessories valued at $18,423,000.00 was executed without the Nigerian Army exercising due diligence.
“These vehicles were procured by the then COAS; Lt Gen OA Ihejirika (rtd) on the spur of the moment based on “common sense, instinct and intuition”.
“Despite the Technical Assessment Reports that observed inadequacies such as the vulnerability of the vehicles to attack, recovery vehicles and lack of support spares including their unsuitability for deployment in the NE, the Nigerian Army made full payment to the Vendor.
“The induction of high number MRAP vehicles into Service was therefore considered rash, ill-advised and wasteful as they had insignificant impact on the war against terror in the NE. Lt Gen OA Ihejirika (Rtd) and Lt Gen KTJ Minimah (Rtd) therefore should be held accountable accordingly.
“In March 2014, the ONSA made a case for the release of N1,000,000,000.00 to sustain offensive operations against Boko Haram insurgents across Nigerian borders. Although the amount was approved and released, the Committee could not establish the utilisation of the fund.”