Operatives of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) and the Department of State Services (DSS), yesterday, swooped on prominent Nigerians allegedly connected with the $2.1 billion arms procurement scam. For the security agencies, it was a harvest of arrests as the EFCC quizzed and detained former governor of Sokoto State, Alhaji Attahiru Bafarawa, and the Chairman of Daar Communications Plc., Chief Raymond Dokpesi, in connection with the arms scam.
The separate arrests of the two chieftains of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) – Bafarawa and Dokpesi – coincided with that of the immediate past National Security Adviser (NSA), Col. Sambo Dasuki (rtd), by DSS operatives. Dasuki had been put under house arrest for almost one month. Highly placed sources at the headquarters of the EFCC in Abuja told New Telegraph that Bafarawa and Dokpesi were being grilled over alleged suspicious dealings.
The anti-graft agency, which had made an unsuccessful attempt in the past to arrest Bafarawa, picked up his son, Sagir, on Monday, alongside the son of Dr. Bello Haliru, former Minister of Defence and Chairman of the PDP Board of Trustees (BoT). The EFCC allegedly traced about N4 billion to the account of the former governor’s son, which was said to have come from Dasuki’s office.
Sagir is said to be a front in the deal. For Dokpesi, New Telegraph gathered that the owner of Africa Independent Television (AIT), was arrested about 12p.m. in Abuja, and driven to the Idiagbon House of the Commission, where he was still being quizzed as at press time.
It was gathered that Dokpesi’s arrest was based on the discovery that he allegedly collected about N2 billion from the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN), based on an alleged instruction from the former NSA, Dasuki. The Head of Media and Publicity of the EFCC, Mr. Wilson Uwujaren, could not confirm the arrests of Bafarawa and Dokpesi, but a highly placed source at the commission’s head process and underhand dealings, have been made. Already, an interim report by the panel has indicted Dasuki and former Chief of Air Staff (CAS), Air Marshal Adesola Amosu (rtd), thus recommending their prosecution by the EFCC. When New Telegraph visited Dasuki’s Abuja residence yesterday at 1:54p.m., two operational vehicles of the DSS were stationed at the entrance, even as three personnel of the secret service were seated beside the gate.
Those arrested so far in connection with the arms deal include a former Director of Finance and Administration in the NSA Office and staff of the National intelligence Agency, Mr. Shuaibu Salisu; former General Executive Director, Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC), Mr. Aminu Baba Kusa, Mohammed Baba- Kusa, Abba M.T. Usman and Evegny Kundaev. Others arrested are: Attahiru Maccido, Salisa Umar Garu, Oyinmiebe Bribena, Olukoya Olusegun Godwin and Olukayode Raimi. President Muhammadu Buhari had, in August, constituted a 13-man panel to investigate arms procurement deals between 2007 and 2015.
In the interim report of the panel that indicted Sambo and others, fictitious contracts to the tune of N2,219,188,609.50, $1,671,742,613.58 and €9,905,477 were said to have been awarded between March 2012 and March 2015. By its mandate, the panel is expected to probe the following Chiefs of Defence Staff (CDS): the late Lt.-Gen. Andrew Azazi (2007-2008), Air Chief Marshal Paul Dike (2008-2010), Air Chief Marshal Oluseyi Petinrin (2010- 2012), Admiral Ola Sa’ad Ibrahim (2012-2014), and Air Chief Marshal Alex Badeh (2014- 2015).
The former COAS are: late Lt.-Gen. Luka Yusuf (2007-2008), Lt.- Gen. Abdulrahman Dambazzau (2008-2010), Lt.-Gen. Azubuike Ihejirika (2010-2014), and Lt.-Gen. Kenneth Minimah (January 2014- July 2015). For former Chiefs of Naval Staff, those to face probe are: Vice Admiral GT Adekeye (2005-2008), Vice Admiral II Ibrahim (2008-2010), Vice Admiral OS Ibrahim (2010-2012), Vice Admiral Dele Ezeoba (2012-2013), and Vice Admiral Usman Jibrin (2013- 2015). Former Chiefs of Air Force, whose tenures are being investigated are: Air Marshal Paul Dike (2006-2008), Air Marshal Oluseyi Petirin (2008- 2010), Air Marshal Mohammed Dikko Umar (2010-2012), Air Marshal Alex Badeh (2012-2014), and Air Marshal Adesola Amosu (2014- 2015). Former NSAs under this category are: Lt-Gen. Aliyu Gusau, the late Gen. Azazi, Lt-Gen. Sarki Mukhtar, and Col. Dasuki. Meanwhile, Senate President Bukola Saraki has dissociated himself from the N60 billion arms deal involving Dasuki. Saraki, in a statement by his Special Adviser (Media and Publicity), Mr. Yusuph Olaniyonu, stated that contrary to report published in an online medium, he had never had anything to do with purchase of security equipment.
“As a member of the Seventh Senate, Dr. Saraki was not a member of any of the committees, which have or the intelligence and national security apparatus. If he was tagged the leader of the opposition to the Jonathan administration, how then will he be privy to arms purchases and have the influence to blackmail any government agency or institution over the release of funds?” Olaniyonu asked.
The Senate President also denied collecting money from any official of the CBN in respect of the arms deal. Also, Governor Adams Oshiomhole of Edo State has justified the prosecution of Dasuki over the arms deal. Oshiomhole also accused the ex-Minister of Finance, Dr. Ngozi Okonjo- Iweala, of culpability in the arms deal. The governor said that the ex-minister breached constitutional provisions in releasing funds meant for the procurement, which were not appropriated by the National Assembly.
The PDP has described the arrest of Dokpesi as continuation of political persecution and witchhunt of opposition by the Federal Government. National Publicity Secretary of the PDP, Chief Olisa Metuh, noted that more notable PDP leaders have been listed for arrest over unproven allegations pursuant to the plot by the All Progressives Congress (APC) to cow and silence opposition in the country.
His words: “We demand a proper investigation and lawful prosecution instead of the reprehensible resort to outright political persecution, which can only have a place in a military regime. “We also note that this development may not be unconnected with the planned onslaught against the media, following its commitment in holding this dictatorial regime accountable since it took office.
“Finally, we call on the international community and rights bodies worldwide to note the growing impunity and gross violation of human rights by the President Muhammadu Buhari-led government tailored to decimate the opposition and cow the media in Nigeria.”oversight function on the Ministry of Defence