N4b Fraud: ‘Retired Judge Frustrating Prosecution Of Ex-Military Officer’
A Coalition of 200 Civil Society Organisations (CSOs) has called on the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC), Independent Corrupt Practices and other related offences Commission (ICPC) and other relevant agencies to undertake a comprehensive investigation of defence budgets between 2015 and 2022.
This was as ICPC alleged that a retired High Court judge frustrated the prosecution of a former military officer arrested for diverting N4 billion from military budget into personal use.
Specifically, the coalition wants focus to be on procurement processes, contract awards and welfare of personnel.
The anticipated probe, the group added, must include the Office of the National Security Adviser (ONSA), as well as all former and current service chiefs within the period under review.
Operating under the auspices of National Coalition of Civil Society for Peace and Security, the group predicated its demand on the growing insecurity in the country and other tendencies threatening national peace, despite the huge budgets for intelligence and security agencies.
In a statement signed by the National President, Dr. Umar Abdulkadir, and National Secretary, Dr. Gbenga Oshinowo, the group commended President Muhammadu Buhari for the huge budgetary allocations he has made available to the defence and security sectors, in the last seven years.
According to the statement, the development was indicative of the commitment of the President towards a secure and orderly society, where investment opportunities will thrive.
“Unfortunately, there has been no corresponding result to justify the huge investments in the critical defence and security sector, which run into trillions of naira, in the last seven years.
“These investments, to all intents and purposes, are a demonstration of Buhari’s commitment to the safety of Nigerians,” the group stated.
It said the probe has become imperative, in view of the fact that Buhari will be exiting office on May 29, 2023, and the compelling need for the world to know the truth surrounding the trillions of naira allocated for defence and security.
In the case of the retired officer, ICPC did not reveal the name of the judge, but said such action would hamper the fight against corruption in the country.
Speaking at a National Policy Dialogue on ‘Corruption and Insecurity in Nigeria’ in Abuja, yesterday, ICPC Chairman, Prof. Bolaji Owasanoye, revealed that the former military officer, in the twilight of his tenure, deposited N4 billion from military budget into the accounts of two companies traced to him.
Owasanoye said the money was used to purchase properties in Abuja in the names of cronies and proxies. He, however, said the judge in charge of the case frustrated the recovery process by deciding to forfeit some of the assets to the Federal Government and the rest left to the suspect.
He said: “Recently, ICPC arrested a military contractor that received, over a period of less than 10 years, cumulative sum of about N6 billion from the Nigerian Army in suspicious circumstances and in violation of extant legislation.
“The commission’s recovery of huge sums in local and foreign currencies, luxury cars, customised mobile phones, designer watches, including three Rolexes, as well as property documents from the premises of the contractor underscore the corruption that often attend military procurement.
“Some former military and security personnel are being investigated by ICPC and our sister agency for embezzlement of funds allocated to security.”
The ICPC boss noted that while the commission has filed notice of appeal, “this strange development aggravates an already bad situation and escalates insecurity and impunity.”