The Economic and Financial Crimes Commission has arrested Air Vice Marshal, Salihu Atawodi(retd), former chairman presidential implementation committee on marine safety over what a source at the Commission describe as a case of conspiracy, abuse of office and misappropriation of public funds.
He allegedly abused his position as chairman of presidential implementation committee on marine safety to defraud the Nigerian government to the tune of over N600m through a dubious contract to procure military boats. He awarded the contract to one Alhaji Rabiu's Hypertech Nigeria Limited. The contractor was fully paid, but the boats were never supplied
The source further disclosed that the contract award process violated the Procurement Act.
AVM Atawodi, who has been on the radar of the anti- graft agency since 2013, was quizzed for several hours on Wednesday, December 2015 after he responded to the invitation extended to him. He arrived the headquarters of the Commission at about 11 am.
EFCC spokesman, Wilson Uwujaren confirmed Atawodi's presence at the Commission, adding that he is assisting the investigation.
In 2013, Rabiu Hassan wrte the testimony below about how monies meant for arms purhases are treated by officials:
EVIDENCE ON AVM ATAWODI (RTD)
I, Rabiu Hassan, hereby confirm, re-assert and declare that it is absolutely true that the N620, 910,000.00 paid to me by AVM Atawodi and credited into my account on the 28th November, 2011 with A/C. No. 1830010246947901- HYPERTECH NIGERIAN LTD was indeed and in fact mostly converted into USD$ which AVM Atawodi collected and diverted for his private use. EXHIBIT A here attached is an extract from the official statement of account detailing the transactions carried out by me, the dates, specific amounts, the names of the beneficiaries and the Bureaux De Change that I used to purchase USD$ which, with the exception of the last item on the extract, were mostly delivered by me personally to AVM Atawodi. The Extract statement from ECOBANK speaks for itself even though it excluded some of the transactions carried out through a micro-finance Bank to purchase USD$ for the same purpose. The extract also does not contain details of some direct withdrawals by me and or through other parties, all of which were for and at the behest of AVM Atawodi (please find here Exhibit A 1 which is from the original statement of account showing those items omitted in Exhibit A above). What is fundamentally proven by the extract from ECOBANK is the fact that monies from the N620,910,000.00 paid by PICOMSS were at various times and in varying quantum withdrawn or used to purchase USD$.
Exhibits A & A1 on their own do not prove that the Dollars so converted were actually collected by AVM Atawodi, it may be argued.
But I have three (3) living witnesses that could testify and (two) 2 have indeed testified, one via sworn court affidavit and the other in witness statement as being privy to the fact that AVM Atawodi did collect the monies. In fact, on the 1st occasion, one of the witnesses was actually physically present.
These 3 witnesses are:?(a) The Bank branch manager-Ecobank Plc.?(b) Jingina Mohammed – My driver and a witness to the
actual exchange of the 1st sum of USD$ 1.3 Million given to AVM Atawodi.
(c) Mr. Roland (second name unknown to me) a protégé, close confidant and right hand man of AVM Atawodi, who in fact lives with the Atawodi family in the family home at Maitama, Abuja, for very many years and is, as far as I know, still living there.
Mr. Roland took physical possession of the money USD$ 1.3million at the car park of the IBB Golf Club and on the instructions of AVM Atawodi.
From the very beginning, I was fully aware that the N620 million was meant to be stolen because Atawodi made it very clear to me that he was in a hurry to get some money and service some judges handling the various litigations that followed the outcome of the Kogi State gubernatorial election disputes in which Atawodi was a candidate. Atawodi also confided in me the need to service some members of the National Assembly working for his bill before the NASS for the conversion of PICOMSS from an AD-HOC Committee into a full government agency.
I am no saint myself in this matter. On Atawodi’s instruction, I took USD$400,000 for myself. I have freely confessed to this fact in my statements to the SSS and EFCC investigators.
The transfer to my account was done without any documentation whatsoever. I never ever presented any invoice or demand for payment. I did not sign any payment voucher nor was there any contract or agreement between PICOMSS and myself
as at the time the money was credited into my account.?For the record the N620,910, 000.00 paid by PICOMSS is not USD $ 4.4 million as reported by The Nation newspaper. As at the 28/11/2011 the open market value of the Naira to Dollar was at N167.5 – USD $ 1, which means the N620,910,000 was worth USD $3,760,925.37. EXHIBIT A1 also shows that Mohammed Mustapha of Hypertech Nig. Limited received the sum of N10 million from the N620 million largesse. M. Mustapha should step forward and tell Nigerians what the N10 million he collected was for. For the record, M. Mustapha was a direct
beneficiary and part and parcel of the stolen N620 million.
2. ON N 1 BILLION CLAIM
“There is fresh evidence showing that over N1 billion was paid out so far but none of the six Boats has been delivered”. The quote is attributed to a source close to the SSS investigation team as reported in The Nation’s news story.
I bought these six (6) boats at an auctioned price of only Euros • 250, 000.00 each (basic), which amounts to Euros •1.5 million for the six (6) boats.
Atawodi requested the inclusion of optional items such as Radars, Navigation equipment’, night vision systems and spare parts etc. which after negotiations brought the total cost of the boats to Euros • 2,013,563.00million. And it was this price that the then NSA – Gen. Azazi (late) insisted on paying for the boats, less the cost of shipping and my agency fee. See Exhibits B1 – B10. So where does the alleged N 1 billion come from? I challenge anyone in this world to come up with proof that I got paid N 1 billion or more!!
Exhibits B3 – B5 are proof that I paid Euro 1, 820,000 to TP Marine out of Euro 2,013,000.00 with all transfers and receipts attached. Exhibit B6 is a copy of the certificate of ownership all of which have been released to me by TP Marine.
2A. WHY THE SIX BOATS ARE NOT DELIVERED
The conspiracy between Atawodi, the “2 Jews” who own M15 – and Mohammed Mustapha of Hypertech Nig. Ltd is the reason why the Boats have not yet been delivered. 1st, M15 sued Mohammed Mustapha in court in Holland and obtained a temporary court order attaching 3 of the 6 boats. See EXHIBITs C1 -C7. Place these in context with particular notice to the dates and the conspiracy is glaringly clear. With Azazi out and Sambo Dasuki in (Dasuki being another colleague and course mate of Atawodi), Atawodi must have been emboldened to re-launch his bid to defraud Nigeria of the 15.5 million Euros.
The “2 Jews” are ostensibly claiming USD$500,000 from M. Mustapha which they allegedly paid as deposit for the boats on behalf of Mustapha and 50% of the PICOMSS contract profit due to M. Mustapha. They showed an agreement they signed with M. Mustapha as proof.
I challenge anyone including the “2 Jews” Mustapha and PICOMSS to produce any contract awarded by PICOMSS to Mustapha to supply the 6 boats! I aver and assert that no such legally binding contract exists anywhere between PICOMSS and anybody.
I challenge the “2 Jews,” Mustapha and PICOMSS/Atawodi to show proof that PICOMSS or any of them paid a single kobo to TP Marine on the so-called PICOMSS contract. And I assert that the claim of the “Jews” to have invested USD$500,000 is a fraud and blatant lie! Exhibit B10 proves that beyond doubt.
3. ON HOW THE N 620,910,000.00 (USD $ 4 MILLION CAME ABOUT)
The deal for the purchase of the six (6) boats at the cost of Euros •15.5 million was based on Atawodi’s claim that the then NSA (now late General Azazi) had in fact jointly with Atawodi determined that the boats should be bought by PICOMSS at the cost of Euros 3.2 million each. Azazi was going to release the money to PICOMSS to pay for the boats. Atawodi reminded me that Azazi was a very close friend and confidant, that they were actually course mates at The Nigeria Defence Academy and that with Azazi in on the deal and paying, we had no need for due process certification. In fact, Atawodi assured me that the full •15.5 million would be paid by Gen. Azazi within a week and that the entire deal would be wrapped-up in 2 weeks time.
Atawodi collected my banking details, summoned his accountant and ordered that the sum of USD $ 4 million in local currency be paid into my account. N620, 910,000.00, apparently calculated as the equivalent of USD $4,000,000.00 at the official rate, was paid into my account by PICOMSS. My evidence here is the sales contract signed between PICOMSS and Hypertech UK Ltd/Hypertech Nig. Ltd for •15.5 million without recourse to any due process or approval. See Exhibits D1-D3 (Note: The EXHIBIT here attached is a back-dated document. My witness is PICOMSS’ secretary, Col Gabriel Musa).
4. ON GENERALAZAZI (LATE)
After a period of one month passed with no payment coming from Azazi, and with my personal investment already committed and the N620,910,000.00 paid by PICOMSS already gone, I became very worried and decided to enquire as to what was going on.
Atawodi’s response was that he had suddenly realised that Azazi was his enemy and was in fact not only refusing to release the money to PICOMSS but was also behind the withdrawal of PICOMSS bill before the National Assembly.
Atawodi assured and advised me not to panic as he had cut a deal with the National Assembly for PICOMSS to be voted huge sums of money in the 2012 budget which this time around would not be buried under the NSA’s budget, but would be paid directly to PICOMSS. He also said that I should just wait for the budget details to come out and he, Atawodi, would have the money to pay me to continue with the transaction.
Atawodi informed me that all he needed to do was pass my papers through the BPP, obtain a certificate of no objection and that he didn’t need the NSA anymore.
This was patently absurd and total madness to me. Here was a man, whom Atawodi alleged was in on the deal to inflate the price of the boats and overnight this same very man became Atawodi’s greatest enemy on earth. My senses simply could not accept this abrupt somersault and I knew something had gone badly wrong with the deal.
I personally knew Gen. Azazi as a friend and associate to whom I had free access as the NSA. I decided to check on Azazi to find out what had gone wrong as I was still working on the assumption that Azazi was part and parcel of the deal.
I made arrangement and saw Gen. Azazi, confronted him with the case of the PICOMSS deal and required to know what had gone wrong.
Azazi was utterly and totally shocked and rendered speechless by my assertion that he and Atawodi had fixed the price at which the boats should be bought by Nigeria and which had led me into a major financial commitment only for things to go awry at this late stage.
After Azazi had regained his composure, he sat me down and swore in all the names of what is holy that he has never sat down with Atawodi to discuss, determine or fix the price at which the boats were to be bought by PICOMSS.
Azazi informed me that Atawodi came to him requesting him to approve and release •15.5 million to enable PICOMSS acquire 6 boats which they had sourced in Holland, and that his response to Atawodi was that he couldn’t release that kind of money to PICOMSS unless Mr. President approved such an expenditure.
Azazi told me he advised Atawodi to write him an official memo stating PICOMSS’ requirement, and he (Azazi) would then forward his own memo to Mr. President seeking for Mr. President’s approval for such expenditure by PICOMSS.
Atawodi presented the memo on the basis of which Azazi filed a memo to The President on PICOMSS request.
According to Azazi, Mr. President, having gone through the memo informed him that he would only approve the request if the original due process certification of the contract for the boats originally awarded by MOD in 2007, was made available to him.
Mr. President’s position was conveyed back to Atawodi by Azazi, with a request that Atawodi comply and present the certification for presentation to Mr. President. Azazi insisted that was all that ever occurred between him and Atawodi on the issue of the 6 boats.
In fact, Azazi went on to intimate me of the fact that on 3 consecutive occasions Mr. President had cause to ask him about the due process papers and that he felt very embarrassed before The President and that consequently, he chose to completely ignore Atawodi/PICOMSS on the matter of the boats and never referred to it again.
I had every reason to believe Gen. Azazi’s version because he was clearly unaware of the true cost of the 6 boats which was only •1.5 million, as against the •15.5 million PICOMSS was requesting and was stunned beyond belief when I casually revealed to him the actual cost of the boats.
I suggested to Azazi that since Atawodi was one floor below his office, he should Summon Atawodi to join us and confront him with all these facts.
Gen. Azazi decided on a different approach, probably considering it beneath his dignity to have an open confrontation with Atawodi, especially in front of a relative outsider like me.
On the spot, Azazi took a number of decisions:
He directed me to steer clear of the PICOMSS contraption, and deliver the 6 boats to the Nigerian Army and not PICOMSS; and he assured that he, Azazi, as the NSA, would pay me for the boats as part of his contribution to the Nigerian Army.
In front of me he summoned the Chief of Army Staff, who arrived Azazi’s office while I was still within the premises. And Azazi later informed me that he had asked the Chief of Army Staff to, with immediate effect, forward him a memo as to whether the Nigerian Army still required the boats or not, and that the COAS promptly submitted a memo strongly soliciting for the boats. Azazi also informed me that he had already given his approval to the transaction on the memo submitted by the COAS.
Azazi made it very clear to me that he was not awarding me a contract but is only cleaning up the mess created by PICOMSS and therefore he was paying for the boats at the exact auction price that I got them for i.e •2, 013,000.00 million – not a kobo more, not a kobo less – and that he would pay me for my services only the sum of •600,000.00, for which I thanked him and indicated my acceptance.
See EXHIBITS D1 & D2 in evidence of the instalments approved and paid me by Azazi and Col. Sambo Dasuki, the new NSA. Both Azazi & Sambo paid me and dealt with me as HYPERTECH (MR) Ltd. Neither of them recognised any other company or names.
As far as the case of the Army Boats is concerned, Gen. Azazi played a very positive role by stopping the PICOMSS scam and saving the Federal Government of Nigeria over 13 million Euros. If he – Gen. Azazi – was part of the scam, he wouldnt have done this.
Gen. Azazi is now late and cannot speak for himself. But Mr. President is very much with us and is best placed to stand up for Azazi by confirming or denying what Azazi had attributed to him. The Chief of Army Staff is still with us as the COAS. The Special Assistant to the late Gen. Azazi and Gen. Wiwa, Azazi’s Chief of Operations are all alive and may have been privy to Gen. Azazi’s side of the story. I think the least that Gen. Azazi
deserves from the COAS and those that worked closely with him is the moral courage to speak up for the dead man who was their close friend and mentor. See Exhibit D3.
5. ON THE “JEWS” (DAVID MAMAN AND SHAY TAL) OF M15
There have for decades been operating in Nigeria, largely legitimately, serious minded, committed and honest Israeli businessmen and women with very solid names and reputations built over time.
The “JEWS” typified by the characters behind M15 are relatively new breed of Israelis and distinguished from the normal Israelis we knew by their utter and complete lack of conscience, insatiable and vicious greed and their capacity and willingness to do anything for money. These characters are the “MONEY GRUBBERS”, “the USERERS” and “heartless exploiters.”
M15 or David Maman and Shay Tal, whose generally unscrupulous conduct in handling government contracts is widely known, are out only to fleece Nigeria at all cost. These crookish businessmen are not only behind the 145 million Euros project designed to dupe Nigeria on the so-called 5 year contract for the leasing of 2 Israeli spy satellites from IMAGESAT – an Israeli state owned company – a project whose real value is less than USD $40 million (note: USD $ not Euros), they also are guilty of having duped both the BPP and the FCTA administration into approving the purchase of 1 unit surveillance balloon at USD $1.9 million while the actual cost of the project is less than USD 300,000. The same Jews were kicked out of Akwa Ibom state by current Governor – Godswill Akpabio – for duping the state in a deal for provision of equipment and material support for the tracking and apprehension of kidnappers. The duo are also, even as I write, still being investigated by the EFCC for alleged criminal breach of contract against the FGN.
These “2 JEWS” are Atawodi’s henchmen and professional experts at misleading, manipulating, concocting and feeding false information to the BPP for Atawodi – PICOMSS to obtain the desired Certificate of No Objection on the 15.5 million Euro boats deal. They deliberately lied by giving the BPP false information and specifications about the boats. They also lied and presented themselves to the BPP as the manufacturers’ representatives. See Exhibits E1 – E3.
6. ON MOHAMMED MUSTAPHA OF HYPERTECH NIG. LTD
This is a young, very hungry, unprincipled, opportunistic and desperate Nigerian. It is very easy to understand how and why M. Mustapha can so easily be drawn into the web of conspiracy and deceit by Atawodi and the 2 “JEWS,” given the figure of 15.5 million Euros being dangled before the eyes of such an unprincipled and desperate character.
Mohammed Mustapha was nothing more than an ingrate, a liar, impostor, betrayer and convenient tool at the hands of Atawodi and M15 – the “JEWS”. The boy is so desperate that he actually wrote the NSA asking for a double payment of N659,332,144.00 to get the boats delivered.
7. CRUX OF THE MATTER: ARE THE 6 BOATS PAID FOR BY ME OR NOT? WAS THE MONEY PAID ME BY THE NSA FOR THE BOATS DIVERTED OR APPLIED FOR THE PURPOSE IT WAS MEANT FOR?
Here, I need not comment. Refer to EXHIBITS B1 – B10 above. And I challenge anybody in this world to prove the contrary! I have paid fully for the boats less an outstanding balance of Euro 154,000 which my lawyers in Holland refuse to release in view of the court attachments by M15.
8. THE CONSPIRACY OF SILENCE: A COVER-UP OF JUST SHEER INCOMPETENCE?
Here is a very interesting question! You have a situation in which The President’s NSA paid up a total sum of EURO 1.5 million to me for the supply of the 6 boats to the Nigerian Army! On the other hand, you have “2 JEWS”, M. Mustapha and Atawodi/ PICOMSS claiming ownership of the very same 6 boats on which the ONSA expended the sum of EURO 1.5 million!
And yet, neither the NSA nor any other relevant authority in Nigeria is asking questions or bothered to find out what is going on until my open petition to The President and the D-G SSS. This is so incredible! What is going on? The least one will expect is that I be taken to task to explain the anomaly? No one did! And this is in spite of my innumerable letters, reports, memos and pleadings to the NSA, all of which to date I’ve never ever received even an acknowledgement letter. This is also in spite of my Holland lawyers’ several written requests to the NSA and other authorities which were never either acknowledged or replied. This is also in spite of the various written communications by TP Marine – the manufacturer of the 6 boats – to both the NSA, the Army authorities and the MOD, none of which was ever acknowledged or responded to!
EXHIBITS F1 – F5 here attached speak for themselves!
So why the conspiracy of silence? Is it an attempt to cover- up and save one of “our own” or just sheer incompetence or the usual NO ONE GIVES A DAMN!! I demand an answer!!!
9. BELLO FADILE & THE NSA’S INVESTIGATION
The investigation instituted by the NSA and being handled by Col. Bello Fadile (rtd), Director for Special Duties, ONSA was from the very beginning either diversionary or mischievous or is meant to achieve an undisclosed agenda. Clearly, the investigation is not really about the 6 boats/PICOMSS. Nor was it about the very serious crimes against Nigeria as reported by me in my petition which includes the Euro 145 million satellite deal, the Naval Dockyard fraud, the MOD failed contracts scam deal, amongst others. What agenda are the NSA and Bello Fadile pursuing?
Are the NSA and Fadile on the side of Nigeria or whose interest are they serving? See Exhibits G1-G3.
10. ON PICOMSS
Most of the Newspaper stories about the scandals at PICOMSS have focused largely on the issues of the supply of the six patrol boats and the scam associated therein.
In my actual petition, I had emphasised more on the fundamentally very very corrupt and rotten structure that PICOMSS had become, principally used as a vehicle for the siphoning of public funds.
I had for instance, referred to the 2011 National budget of Nigeria in which PICOMSS, an ad-hoc committee set up by the presidency, was somehow allocated the sum of N50 billion, which is twice the N25 billion allocated to the Office of National Security Adviser (ONSA) in the same 2011 national budget.
Nobody seems to have paid much attention to this anomaly. In spite of the fact that legally and constitutionally, PICOMSS is not entitled to a share of the national budget of Nigeria in its capacity as an ad-hoc committee, it was allocated such a mind-boggling amount in the Appropriation Act of 2011, hidden under the budget of the ONSA.
This has been the tradition since I knew PICOMSS. To the best of my knowledge, PICOMSS was not set up by, neither does it report to the NSA.
PICOMSS was originally set up by the presidency under the umbrella of the Federal Ministry of Transport with the Honourable Minister of Transport as Chairman and membership drawn from various places.
In fact, PICOMSS was originally housed within the premises of the Ministry of Transport. I’m not privy to how it came about that the Minister of Transport no longer Chairs PICOMSS. Nor am I aware as to the fact and circumstances under which PICOMSS was lent office spaces within the office of the NSA.
It is a fundamental breach of our constitution for PICOMSS to have direct access to the national budget of Nigeria. But it was very convenient for PICOMSS and its promoters and patrons for PICOMSS to appear to be part of the office of the NSA.
My petition did not focus on the so-called N3 billion scam over the supply of six units of K38 boats. I had, in my petition, brought up specific charges of massive official corruption, total disregard to and the manipulation of the due process or procurement law which under the leadership of AVM Atawodi led to the massive fraud perpetrated in the acquisition of two or three private air crafts, the project for hanger construction in Benin and Lagos and the project or contract for the supply and installation of a National Maritime Rader coverage of the coastal waters of Nigeria, to mention just a few.
All these allegations have been totally ignored by the Bello Fadile-led NSA’s investigation in spite of my assertions that if investigated none of these projects would be found to have conformed with, or passed the due process of Government in the management of public funds. These projects have cost Nigeria tens of millions of Dollars & Euros, carried out by an ad-hoc committee which I still challenge to produce evidence of a Presidential or Federal Executive Council (FEC) approval for any of its projects or contracts.
But this has always been the case in PICOMSS, as even before the ascendency of Atawodi as Chairman of PICOMSS, a fraud of monumental proportion in which Nigeria was bled of over •240 million Euros, ostensibly paid as the cost of a contract for the total radar coverage of Nigeria’s Maritime borders, at the end of which only three units of unserviceable UAVs and five units of 40 nautical mile capacity of unusable radars were supplied and dumped in Nigeria, none of which had ever worked to date, occurred.
This grand theft was perpetrated by an even more notorious Israeli defence contractor called Amit – owner of the infamous company known as DOLYATECH – through a front company registered in Israel called AERONAUTICS and with the active connivance and collusion of the leadership of PICOMSS and very top-placed government and close personal aides of The President of Nigeria.
The recent revelations by the Nuhu Ribadu committee about the over N19 billion paid to PICOMSS from the NNPC accounts only confirm my stated position that PICOMSS has been a massively corrupt and major drain pipe of the Nation’s resources, not accountable to any body and operating in total disregard to any laid down procedure or due process of Government.
11. THE THREAT TO MY LIFE
My life and that of my family have been under threat since my petition on the official corruption and the subversion of Nigeria’s security and defence interests through the award of fraudulent and often unexecuted defence and security contracts or projects.
This threat to my life and my family are very real and serious. Just last week, Thursday, December 27, 2012, my house was invaded and forcefully broken into by 3 truck-load of heavily armed policemen in company of the “2 Jews,” Shay Tal and David Maman, at about 2pm in the afternoon. Investigations are going on to determine where from and by whose authority the police came and invaded my house in company of the “Jews.”
The invading policemen and the “2 Jews,” where at my house demanding for my whereabouts, knowing fully well my office address. The invaders illegally arrested 4 of my domestic staff, and had them detained for hours at the Life Camp Police Division on no account.
My lawyer and I have sought for protection from the SSS and Police. Suffice it to say that no amount of threat to my life or my freedom can silence me. I have a lot more documents and information on what has been going on. And I will sing like a canary. I say to all my detractors, please bring it on. I am equal to the challenges, even though they control and have access to the apparatus of state coercion and I stand alone with only the truth and with God on my side.
I hereby call on Mr. President to institute a high-powered judicial commission of inquiry into the Defence and Security contracts awards for the last two decades to see how Nigeria lost hundreds of billions of US Dollars.”
Signed: Rabiu Hassan Abuja 02-01-2013