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$2.1b arms deals: FG beefs up security for probe panel chairman, others

President-Muhammadu-Buhari

The federal government is not taking chances in the probe of arms deals under the last administration.

It has consequently beefed up security around the probe panel chairman, AVM J.O.N. Ode(rtd) and others members of the committee.

Sources said last night that the action was to check the desperation of some suspects being investigated in the arms deals to infiltrate the panel.

Already, the movement of an Israeli agent described as central to the arms deals, has been restricted to the country pending the conclusion of the investigation.

His passport has been seized to stop him from sneaking out of the country.

Investigations suggested that some under probe had gone as far as employing subtle means to woo relations and friends of the panel chairman and members with a view to prevailing on the panelists to ‘tread softly.’

But the committee members have vowed to get to the roots of the scandals in the Armed Forces.

A highly-placed source said: “Some of these suspects were so desperate that they were ready to do anything to escape justice.

“You can imagine how daring they have become by offering $150,000 to an EFCC operative.

“The government has decided to build heavy security round the Chairman and members of the Special Investigative Committee and their families.”

Other members of the committee are R/Adm J.A. Aikhomu (rtd.); R/Adm E. Ogbor (rtd.); Brig Gen L. Adekagun (rtd.); Brig Gen M. Aminu-Kano (rtd.); Brig Gen N. Rimtip (rtd.); Cdre T.D. Ikoli ; Air Cdre U. Mohammed (rtd.); Air Cdre I. Shafi’i; Col A.A. Ariyibi; Gp Capt C.A. Oriaku (rtd.); Mr. Ibrahim Magu (EFCC) and Brig Gen Y.I. Shalangwa(Secretary).

Responding to a question, the source said: “The ongoing exercise comes with a lot of risks for the chairman and members of the committee.

“The probe of the procurements by the military is just about 50 per cent level and the panel has uncovered mind-boggling frauds.

“By the time the panel is fully done, Nigerians will appreciate the extent of the rot in the system.

“Yet, most of these suspects are really daring and too desperate in wielding influence.

“Phase II of the investigation borders on inflation, diversion, reduction and embezzlement of salaries and allowances of troops by senior officers. This committee is yet to get to this bend.”

Investigation also revealed that some of the serving military officers being probed are still retained in their command positions for strategic reasons.

Some of those affected are the most senior Air Force officer, AVM A. M. Mamu(the Chief of Administration); AVM O.T. Oguntoyinbo (former Director of Production, Defence Headquarters); AVM R.A. Ojuawo (Air Officer Tactical Air Command, Makurdi; AVM J.B. Adigun(former Chief of Accounts and Budgeting in NAF); and AVM JA Kayode-Beckley(Director, Armament Research in Air Force Research and Development Centre); AVM T Omenyi (MD, NAF Holdings)four top officers at the Defence Headquarters(DHQ), Air Cdre AO Ogunjobi; Air Cdre GMD Gwani; Air Cdre SO Makinde; Air Cdre AY Lassa and Col. N. Ashinze , who was the Special Military Assistant to the ex-National Security Adviser, Col. Sambo Dasuki.

A defence source said the military hierarchy left these officers in charge of their formations to “protect their right to fair hearing, their innocence until proven guilty and prevent them from leaving the country under any guise.

“They are no doubt distracted by the allegations against them but it is tactical to leave them in their positions until it is ripe to invite, arrest or detain them.

“As long as they remain in service, it will help the assignment of the Special Investigative Committee.

“We want them to be in the system and answer all the allegations against them. It is like putting them in a tight corner.”

As at press time, it was learnt that the movement of an Isareli agent, who facilitated some of the arms procured, has been restricted.

Another source close to the committee said: “The passport of the Israeli agent has been seized and had us virtually restricted to his residence pending the conclusion of the ongoing probed by the committee.”

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