Graphic details of how two defence ministers, top presidential aide, Inspector General of Police and Permanent Secretary connived with a contractor to divert and share a whopping N35 billion meant for the acquisition of arms and logistics for Nigerian troops on peace-keeping operations have emerged, more than a decade after.
Vanguard learned that the N35 billion loan, which was obtained from the Debt Management Office, DMO, was for the award of contracts for the provision of logistics and equipment for Nigerian troops on peace-keeping missions under the Nigerian Contingencies in Peace Keeping Missions, CADEP.
However, documents obtained by Vanguard last night indicated that the bulk of the cash was diverted by the ministers, permanent secretary and a Chief of Staff to the President at the time, using fronts to masquerade as genuine contractors who did not only disappear with the cash but also provided substandard facilities that the troops have not been able to use till date, in some cases.
According to documents sighted by the newspaper, the documents also showed that the contractor, Richfield Technologies, which was used as front to divert the funds, exposed how the top government officials dictated to him how to share the cash, instead of executing the contracts and got full payment, even when the jobs were not satisfactorily executed. According to the documents, while the defence ministry officials ordered the full payment of the cash to the contractors when the equipment were yet to be supplied in full, some of the facilities supplied were discovered to be substandard and could not be utilized by the military till date.
It was also gathered that some of the contracts were later terminated by the ministry after all the cash had been paid to the contractors without any refunds made to government by the defaulting contractors, making the nation to lose huge sums of money. The document, which is now before the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, EFCC, details how the cash was taken, who got what and how much and how the cash was paid out to the beneficiaries after the jobs had been given out by the ministry.
It was learned that part of the cash had been traced to the acquisition of two mansions in Asokoro district of Abuja for two former top government functionaries, while others requested for and got cars for themselves, wives and associates. “The ownership of the two property has been traced and confirmed by the Abuja Geographic Information System, AGIS, Development Control Department, while EFCC has already begun moves to get them forfeited to the Federal Government.
Already, the Managing Director of the four firms: Richfield Technologies Limited, VTB Exports &Imports Limited, Freerose Limited and African Integrated Services Limited that got the defence contracts, (names withheld) 47, has been quizzed by operatives of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission on why he failed to deliver on the jobs given to him and has spoken out on what transpired between his companies and the officials who awarded him the jobs.
The alleged connivance and diversion of the huge cash under questionable contracts took place between 2007 and 2012 when no fewer than three ministers, one chief of staff to the President and one Inspector General of Police held sway. Among those mentioned in the report now before the EFCC a former Chief of Staff to the President, two chieftains of Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, and a Permanent Secretary who served as one of the permanent secretaries within the period under review by the anti-graft agency. The contractor has blamed the failure of his companies to satisfactorily execute most of the jobs given to his four companies to the huge sums of money which the top government officials demanded and collected as bribes before awarding him the jobs and has listed what each person collected and how he paid them either through cash, cheques or outright acquisition of property for them.
The contractor said he paid N100 million to a former Chief of Staff to the President through a company nominated by him as bribe for the N1.2 billion contract he facilitated for the award of contract for arms supply. I also paid out another N80 million to a company, West African Business Platform as directed by the Chief of Staff and another $240,000 cash to the same man and a former Defence Minister for facilitating the jobs. “Forty million each was paid to the personal assistant to the Permanent Secretary in the Defence Ministry, for facilitating the letter of credit for the N533 million Simulation equipment supply contract to the Nigerian Army in Lagos. “After the Permanent Secretary gave me three contracts worth N120 million to execute on his behalf, I paid the sum of N50 million each to him through his personal assistant, and he asked me to buy a new Honda Accord for his new wife.
He also asked me to buy a Passat and a Jetta for his personal assistant. “The sum of N30 million was also paid in cash to the former Personal Assistant to the former defence minister for the award of N347 million contract the Perm Sec had earlier directed the bank “The permanent secretary told me not to execute the N120 million aircraft refueler contract but to pay him the cash through his PA who has since stopped picking his calls and severed contacts with him since I became the subject of investigation over the contracts,” the contractor wrote. He said he was also forced by one of the former ministers to part with the sum of N490 million which they used in buying two properties at No 2 and 2A Udo Udoma Street in Asokoro District of Abuja.
The EFCC’s Acting Head of Media and Publicity, Tony Orilade, confirmed the investigation of the case and promised that the suspects would soon be charged to court for abuse of office, diversion of public funds and stealing.