The beleaguered former National Security Adviser (NSA), Col. Sambo Dasuki (rtd.), has again responded to the allegations contained in an interim report of the presidential panel set up by President Muhammadu Buhari to investigate the procurement of arms and equipment in the Armed Forces and defence sector from 2007 to date.
Mr. Femi Adesina, Dasuki provided evidence of the correspondence from the army and air force acknowledging the receipt of four Alpha jets, 12 helicopters and other military equipment that the panel accused him of not procuring.
Dasuki, who has had a running battle with the present administration and is being prosecuted by the federal government for illegal possession of firearms and money laundering, and is currently under house arrest, also accused the presidency of acting out a script.
The presidency on Tuesday had released the findings of its panel and ordered the arrest of Dasuki and other unnamed persons alleged to have misappropriated several billions of naira and dollars in the award of fictitious and 53 failed contracts, thus contributing to the needless deaths of thousands of Nigerians affected by the insurgency in the North-east.
Some of the contracts, which were said to be for the purchase of four Alpha jets, 12 helicopters, bombs and ammunition, the presidential report alleged, were not executed and the equipment never supplied to the Nigerian Air Force, neither are they in its inventory.
However, in a statement he personally signed, Dasuki said: “In a theatrical manner, the presidency fed the public with many allegations against my person and yet to be named former public officers.”
To draw sympathy, he said the presidency quoted some “absurd findings including extra-budgetary interventions; award of fictitious contracts; 53 failed contracts; payment for jobs without contractual agreements; non-execution of contracts for the purchase of four Alpha jets, bombs and ammunition”.
For undiscerning Nigerians, they may tend to assume that the allegations were true and pronounce the former National Security Adviser guilty as charged.
The statement issued by the Special Adviser on Media and Publicity, Mr. Femi Adesina, who should know better as a former President of the Nigerian Guild of Editors and a witness to history, was nothing short of propaganda to cast aspersions on Dasuki.
To set the records straight, Nigerians should appreciate that the AVM John Ode-led panel did not invite the ex-NSA under any guise before arriving at its ambiguous findings.
“At least, fairness demands that the panel ought to hear from Dasuki instead of its recourse to hasty conclusions. If the panel had been more patient and painstaking, it would have been availed of all relevant documents on some of the jaundiced findings,” he stated.
As if acting out a script, Dasuki said the presidency alleged that the panel accused him of awarding fictitious contracts between March 2012 and March 2015, when he was not even the NSA in March 2012.
“Contrary to this claim, Dasuki was not the NSA in March 2012 and he could not have awarded any contract in whatever name. The ex-NSA was appointed by ex-President Goodluck Jonathan on June 22, 2012,” he pointed out.
He stated that all contracts and accruing payments were with the approval of the President and Commander-in-Chief of the Armed Forces (Jonathan).
“Once the ex-President approved, the former NSA paid. So there was due process for every purchase in line with regulations guiding arms procurement for the Armed Forces.
“And Nigerians should note that all the services generated the types of equipment needed, sourced for suppliers most times and after consideration by the Office of the NSA, the president will approve application for payment.
“For sensitive sectors (military/security), there was no room for awarding fictitious contracts. The conclusions of the panel were presumptive, baseless and lacked diligence,” he said.
Dasuki maintained that there were no fictitious contracts, contract sums were not diverted, and the relevant services in writing acknowledged delivery of equipment.
He said for all procurements, the Nigerian Army, the Air Force and the Nigerian Navy have their contractors.
Providing details on the correspondence from the different services acknowledging the receipt of arms and equipment, he said: “While awaiting judicial process on these allegations, it is proper to make some references to show that the presidency was just desperate to hang some former public and military officers who served this nation at the risk of their lives.
“It is laughable for the panel to assume that four Alpha jets and 12 helicopters were undelivered. In a memo to the Office of the National Security Adviser (ONSA), referenced NAF/905/D/CAS of November 28, 2014, the immediate past Chief of Air Staff, Air Chief Marshal Adesola Amosu acknowledged the receipt of the 4x Alpha jets attack aircraft and the helicopters.
“On 10/21/14, the Chief of Air Staff also confirmed the receipt of F-7 N1 aircraft combination of 250kg bombs and accessories at $2,894,000 with the cost of freight at $1,200,000. The same Air Force confirmed getting 2xTri Shield 36DG tactical radars.
“In another letter of December 1, 2014 signed by L.S. Alao (on behalf of the Chief of Air Staff), the Air Force said it received five containerised fuel storage and dispensing units with equipment.
“The Nigerian Army wrote the ONSA to acknowledge the delivery of 14 armoured tanks. In a December 13, 2014 memo, the Brigade of Guards thanked ONSA for releasing N30m for RCA, operation allowance for troops on Op Urban Sweep II for third and fourth quarters of 2014. This is apart from the installation of CCT cameras at the Brigade Headquarters, two backscatter bomb detection vans and other equipment.
“On November 26, 2014, the immediate past Chief of Defence Staff, Air Chief Marshal Alex Badeh sought for approval of the award of one pair of uniforms (in the interim) for the Armed Forces at N165,375,000 to El-Jahab Mubarak Nigeria and N330,750,000 for two pairs.
“These are some of the acknowledgment letters submitted to me by the end-users (the services). It is not for me to go and find out whether the equipment was delivered or not. I am not the one keeping the inventories.”
To prove that he had nothing to hide, the ex-NSA said he submitted a comprehensive list of all requests for procurements by the services, “the items bought and those equipment being awaited to His Excellency, President Muhammadu Buhari long before I left office”.
“If there were issues, I should have been questioned. I was just the clearing house, I did not award contracts to my company or proxies. There was no contract awarded or equipment bought without approval from the then President and Commander-in-Chief. I am not a thief or treasury looter as being portrayed,” he added.
Dasuki however stated that there were many salient issues and contracts which he could not put in the public domain, in order not to endanger the nation’s security.
He said he was ready for trial on all these allegations in order to prove to Nigerians that he did nothing untoward in office. “We will certainly meet in court.”
“I have a lot to tell Nigerians but in the interim, they should not believe some of the allegations as the gospel truths. The good thing is that some of the key actors in the present administration were parts of the past process being viciously challenged.
“As for my tenure as the nation’s NSA, I acted in the interest of the nation and with utmost fear of God. I did not use the office for any self-serving agenda. I occupied the Office of the National Security Adviser at a difficult moment in Nigerian history when terrorism was at its peak and I am leaving posterity to judge me accordingly,” he stated.
When contacted to react to Dasuki’s response to the panel’s report and the discrepancies highlighted by the former NSA, the president’s media aide, Adesina, declined to make further comment on the issue.
“We have no comment at this time but I will let you know if we have something to say,” he said.
Meanwhile, following the presidential order for his arrest, the Department of State Services (DSS) has deployed more of its operatives in the residence of the former NSA in Asokoro, Abuja.
It was gathered that more security personnel were stationed in front of the building while some others were stationed at the junction of the Akwa Ibom governor’s lodge close to Dasuki’s home.
Dasuki has been under house arrest since the Federal High Court in Abuja granted him permission to travel abroad for medical treatment two weeks ago. -Thisday