35BIL NAIRA DEFENCE CONTRACTS: EX-DEFENCE PERM SEC, KWANKWASO’S FORMER AIDE IN EFCC NET

From Yusuf Alli, Abuja 

A former Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Defence, Mr. Haruna Sanusi, has been invited for questioning over the award of contracts worth N35billion for equipping the Nigerian contingents on UN peacekeeping missions.

Also under probe is Abba Yusuf, a former Personal Assistant to a former Minister of Defence, Senator Rabiu Kwankwaso.

Yusuf was alleged to have received N100million (in separate tranches of N30m and N70m) as bribes.

It was learnt that Economic and Financial Crimes Commission’s (EFCC’s) probe will ascertain the contract fees, the bribe that was given and taken.

Yusuf was the PDP governorship candidate during the 2019 election in Kano.

The EFCC said it may watch-list a former Chief  of Staff to a former president. He has not responded to the anti-graft agency’s invitation to explain his alleged involvement in the defence contracts.

Although a former minister of defence was implicated for allegedly collecting $240,000 as bribe, the EFCC investigators were said to be closing in on him in establishing the veracity of the allegation.

More suspects might be quizzed because some of the cash were allegedly disbursed to different military officers and formations including a former Chief of Army Staff, a former Chief of Naval Staff and a former Permanent Secretary in the State House

The Nation exclusively reported that although 131 split contracts were awarded with the N35billion vote, some of the cash was diverted into private accounts.

According to the fact sheet released by the EFCC, ex-Permanent Secretary Sanusi was invited  to explain whether or not he was “purportedly paid N120million out of the contract sum of N433million for three simulators.

The fact-sheet said: “The ex-Permanent Secretary has been formally invited for interrogation. He was alleged to have compelled the contractor to part with N50million and a brand new Honda Accord car for his wife from Honda Place.

The fact-sheet added: “The contractor indicated that he took the N50,000,000.00 to Dr. Haruna Sanusi’s house on Urban Close, off Aso Drive in Asokoro.

“On the supply of Arms and Ammunition award to VTB EXPORT at N778,529, 000, the contractor alleged that  Abba Yusuf was given cash of N70,000.000 at his former residence Asokoro for Alh. Kwankwaso.

“Yusuf allegedly got N30million from the contract fees for the award of aircraft refillers when he was a Personal Assistant to another former Minister of Defence.”

“He also gave Mike Jnr N12,000,000.00 for himself and father for the supply of fuel tanker awarded to at about N85,000,000.00.

“The former Perm Sec was given the sum of N3,000,000.00 through their PA, Ibrahim Kofarmata for the contract of supply of 450 Restitution impact maker award at N30,000,000.00 cash at his former residence.

“The former Perm Sec received N40,000,000.00 cash he gave Ibrahim Kofarmata to give him. The sum of N40,000,000.00 was also given to Ibrahim Kofarmata at GTB Maitama branch for Dr. Haruna Sanusi.

“All these monies were demanded by  Haruna for influencing the award of the contract.

“That Mike Jnr received from him(the contractor),  the sum of $240,000.00 cash on behalf of a former Minister of Defence and the money was given to ex-minister in  cash at his guest house in Asokoro.

The fact-sheet also covered the latest bend of the investigation including payments for jobs not done.

It said: “The report highlighted that in June 2008, the Ministry of Defence obtained a N35billion Loan Bond  from the Debt management Office(DMO)  for the provision of  logistic items and equipment for the  Nigerian Contingents for peace keeping missions from which contracts were awarded and monies disbursed.

“It was also revealed that some of the contracts were non-performing as the contracts could not deliver within the stipulated time assigned which ranged from three to six months.

“Also highlighted was the fact that some contractors supplied substandard materials which were accepted by the ministry but could not be utilized till date.

“While other contracts were terminated after full contract sums were paid to the contractors without any refunds to the Ministry of Defence.

“Richfield Technologies Limited was awarded four contracts for the supply of equipment for peace-keeping amounting to about N1.4billion

“Letter of investigation was sent to the Ministry of Defence for details of all peace-keeping  contracts awarded from 2009 to 2015. Response was received and analyzed thoroughly. The contracts were identified and payments traced to the company’s account.”

As at press time, it was gathered that the EFCC may watch-list the former Chief of Staff.

“If he refuses to come for interrogation, we have no choice than to watch-list him. Wherever he is, we will fish him out.”

When contacted, the Acting Head of Media and Publicity of EFCC, Mr. Tony Orilade said: “Investigation is ongoing on the N35billon contracts.”

The background to the contracts in the fact-sheet reads in part: “In 2007, the UN told the Federal Government to equip the Nigerian contingents on peacekeeping missions all over the world. The UN asked the Federal Government to raise the money while it will reimburse later.

“There were three options opened to the Federal Government namely, (a) borrowing from banks (b) use of normal budget and (c) sourcing funds from the Capital Market.

“The Federal Government chose the Capital Market and directed the Debt Management Office ( DMO) to raise the cash.

“In June 2008, DMO raised the N35billion and transferred it into the account of the Ministry of Defence domiciled in Unity Bank.

“Investigation confirmed that some of the cash was disbursed to different military officers and formations including a former Chief of Army Staff and a former Chief of Naval Staff and a former Permanent Secretary in the State House.

“Contracts were awarded to about 131 companies from the cash.

“Also, about $4,347,529.67 from the votes was allegedly used to establish an embassy in Brazil by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs.

“The disbursement of the N35billion spread from 2008 to 2013 with different purposes being used to divert the money.”