Nigeria's anti graft agency, the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) on Wednesday grilled former Chief of Army Staff, Mr. Azubuika Ihejirika, over his role in the $2.1 billion arms procurement scandal under the administration of former President Goodluck Jonathan.
The retired military chief was questioned over the roles he played in the procurement of arms and ammunition as Chief of Army Staff.
He was one of the 18 retired army officials investigated for Defence Equipment Procurement fraud by a committee set up by President Muhammadu Buhari on assumption of office.
The work of the Committee covered the period 2007 to 2015.
The special committee had in its report indicted 18 top military personnel, 12 government officials and 24 heads of Companies for fraudulent dealings in the arms procurement contracts.
The committee led by AVM Jon Ode (Rtd) found that: “3 contracts with a total value of N5,940,000,000.00 were awarded to DYI Global Services Ltd and Doiyatec Comms Nig. Ltd (owned by the same individuals) for the procurement of military hardware including 20 units of KM-38 Twin Hull Boats and 6 Units of 4X4 Ambulances fitted with radios. The committee found that the 2 companies collected N5,103,500,000.00, representing 86% of the total value of the 3 contracts worth N5,940,000,000.00, but only performed to the tune of N2,992,183,705.31.
“In this regard, a review of the procurement carried out by Chok Ventures Ltd and Integrated Equipment Services Ltd established that between March 2011 and December 2013, the 2 companies exclusively procured various types of Toyota and Mitsubishi vehicles worth over N3,000,000,000.0 for the Nigerian Army without any competitive bidding.
“Though the committee found no credible evidence of delivery of the vehicles, the vendors were fully paid based on job completion certificate authenticated by the then Chief of Logistics.
The Committee added in the report that analysis of the various bank accounts of the two companies involved in the arms purchse contracts showed transfers to individuals related to Ihejirika, who was then the Chief of Army Staff.
According to The Nation newspaper, Gen. Ihejirika was asked by EFCC interrogators to account for the transfer of N115m, $132,000, €16,000 and £44,0000 to his relatives who allegedly did no job.
The five beneficiaries are Raymond Ihejirika, Nkechi Ihejirika, Ndubuisi Ihejirika, Orji Ihejirika and Kingsley Ihejirika.
He was also questioned for allegedly awarding N3, 658,293’846.94 contracts to two companies owned by his brother-in-law, Chinedu Onyekwere.
Another query raised for Gen. Ihejirika was seeking his explanation in respect of suspicious transactions to the tune of N845,600,000 and $3,450,619 made from Defence Industry Corporation of Nigeria’s (DICON’s) domiciliary and Naira accounts.
The former Army Chief is expected to account for the suspicious transactions alongside a former DG of DICON, Maj.-Gen. E.R, Chioba (retd) among others.
EFCC spokesman, Wilson Uwajuren who confirmed the development last night said Ihejirika requested to go back and gather more information and documents to defend himself against allegations by investigators.