By Sonia O’Aba
For Sambo Dasuki, trouble doesn’t seem to come in trickles but in torrents. Fresh from the recent prolonged searches in his Abuja and Sokoto residents by officials of the Department of State Security (DSS) during which “damning” evidences were gleaned, and on the heels of his being charged to court last week for illegal possession of arms, the ex-National Security Adviser (NSA) reportedly has found himself in the heat of another potentially more serious mess.
According to the information pieced together by this medium in military and security circles over the weekend, the former NSA’s latest trouble stems from the series of arms deals consummated under his watch during the last few years of the Goodluck Jonathan’s administration, particularly when Boko Haram’s insurgency was at its zenith. Many of the deals, said to be worth billions of dollars, have been variously described as “questionable” and “inexplicable” even as a high powered panel has been established by the Presidency to probe those and other transactions.
Top on the list of the said questionable arms deals, as disclosed a military insider, was the $9.3 million cash which was seized by the South African authorities last year. The official explanation then was that the fund, which was stacked in a plane belonging to the President of Christian Association of Nigeria (CAN), Pastor Ayo, was for the purchase of sundry military equipment, including arms. But preliminary investigation by the South African authorities was said to have confirmed that contrary to the submission of the Jonathan administration, “there were sufficient grounds to believe that only was the said fund meant to be laundered; similar large funds had been funneled through such channels at least twice in the immediate past under highly suspicious circumstances cleverly camouflaged as arms purchase deals,” according to the source.
Specially, the Presidency is said to be interested in the role played by the Prime suspect, Dasuki in those infamous transactions which reportedly totals a whopping $43.8 million. “Curiously, a thorough inventory of the military hardware obtained in the past couple of years, show that no such items for which tens of billion of naira were supposedly spent, under the watch of the NSA. In a nutshell, the guy (Dasuki) has plenty of explanations to make regarding the whereabouts of these funds and/or the arms he supposedly procured,” the source added.
In the same vein, Dasuki is believed to be under investigation over the N3 billion contract awarded in 2013 for the six units of K-38 patrol boats to be supplied a Presidential committee. Even though the highly inflated deal was to be handled by the defunct Presidential Implementation Committee on Maritime Security (PICOMSS), the former NSA was said to have hijacked it “using some fronts, particularly a chieftain of the then ruling PDP and one of the former Service Chiefs, he not only cornered the contract but pocketed most of the funds. The consequence was that only a few unreliable patrol boats (believed to have been refurbished, instead of the brand new ones specified in the contract) were eventually supplied,” squealed a source close to an ex-Service Chief.
Another issue over which some burning posers are hanging over the embattled retired colonel is the $1 billion loan which was obtained by the immediate past administration supposedly for the purchase of military hardware with which to tackle Boko Haram. D/HERALD reliably gathered that as at May 28, 2015 when the Jonathan administration ended, no such equipment had been bought, even though the fund had been obtained following the Senate’s approval. “Between the then Finance Minister and the then NSA, nobody else knows what has become of the said $1 billion,” another source stated. “Did they divert the money, or simply pocketed it? Was it used for the PDP’s election compaign? Only Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala and Sambo Dasuki can tell”.
Dasuki’s name also reportedly features prominently in the $466.5 million contract which was awarded last year to “weaponise” some Puma helicopters. It was learnt that at least two of the then Service Chiefs had pointed out that with such a princely amount of hard currency the military could easily acquire “Brand new, fully weaponise helicopters with plenty spare parts to boot,” rather than merely weaponsing a handful of helicopters. Along the line, the office of the then NSA was said to have hijacked the deal.
“What happened next was the sort called stranger than fiction,” narrated an Army source who pleaded for anonymity. “The ridiculously inflated contract was awarded to a chieftain of PDP who had no expertise, let alone experience, in such stuff, thereby ending up doing the job shoddily. Not only that, out of the six planes that were to be weaponised, only two were partially done. In fact an inexperienced local mechanic could have done the job better. Sambo and the said PDP chieftain simply pocketed most of the money just like that, leaving the military in the lurch”.
Little wonder, the retired Colonel who, prior to his appointment by the Jonathan as the NSA was barely managing to survive, had become stupendously rich by the time he was unceremoniously sacked two months ago. Aside from the landed properties he allegedly accumulated in Abuja and else where within a few years of his tenure, the ex-NSA was found to have acquired a fleet of exotic bullet-proof cars estimated at over N850 million. The luxury cars, which were found in Sambo’s Abuja mansion when the DSS stormed there last month, had yet to be registered as at that time.
This medium was informed that as part of its determination to recover all the funds embezzled by officials of the Jonathan administration, and given that the funds meant for purchasing arms and ammunition are not vetted by National Assembly or Bureau of Public Procurement, the Buhari administration decided to appoint a panel of retired and serving military generals to handle this chore. In panel which has retired Air Vice Marshal J. Ode as President, will among other things, “investigate allegations of non-adherence to correct equipment procurement procedures and the exclusion of relevant logistics branches from arms procurement… which very often resulted in the acquisition of sub-standard and unserviceable equipment”.
Given the billions of dollars that went down the drain in the Jonathan era under the guise of procuring arms and ammunition, a certain Sambo Dasuki who featured prominently in these dirty deals, obviously needs no soothsayer to know that the chickens are coming home to roost now. Will he be able to wriggle out of this monumental series of questionable deals? That remains to be seen.
By Sonia O’Aba