Nige­ria in­dicts firms over arms fraud con­tracts

Nairobi Law Monthly - - Briefing -

Nige­ria has in­dicted more than 300 lo­cal and for­eign com­pa­nies and in­di­vid­u­als, in­clud­ing mil­i­tary of­fi­cers, over an arms scan­dal.

They are ac­cused of de­fraud­ing the country of $241m (Sh24 bil­lion) in fake con­tracts, a govern­ment state­ment says.

Pres­i­dent Muham­madu Buhari or­dered a probe last year af­ter funds meant to buy weapons to fight Boko Haram mil­i­tants were al­legedly di­verted.

More than $35m (Sh3.4 bil­lion) has been re­cov­ered in the in­ves­ti­ga­tion so far.

The con­tracts were awarded by the of­fice of the na­tional se­cu­rity ad­viser from 2011 un­til 2015, the state­ment from the of­fice of the pres­i­dent says.

It lists all the com­pa­nies and in­di­vid­u­als in­dicted in­clud­ing for­mer Na­tional Se­cu­rity Ad­viser Sambo Da­suki, who is fac­ing sep­a­rate fraud charges linked to the arms scan­dal.

Mr Da­suki, who served un­der for­mer Pres­i­dent Good­luck Jonathan, has pre­vi­ously de­nied the al­le­ga­tions of cor­rup­tion in re­la­tion to phan­tom con­tracts.

The in­ves­ti­ga­tion was done by a spe­cial com­mit­tee ap­pointed by Pres­i­dent Buhari, who came to of­fice in May partly on a prom­ise to clamp down on graft.

The com­mit­tee found that con­tracts were awarded “with­out any con­trac­tual agree­ment or ev­i­dence of jobs ex­e­cuted”, the state­ment says.

It gave an ex­am­ple of how one of the com­pa­nies, So­ci­ete D’equipement In­ter­na­tional, “was over­paid to the tune of $8.9m and $7m”.

The scale of the al­leged fraud is mas­sive con­sid­er­ing the num­ber of com­pa­nies and in­di­vid­u­als in­volved.

This is the first time such a de­tailed re­port has been made pub­lic and the fact that both serv­ing and re­tired mil­i­tary of­fi­cers have been in­dicted ap­pears to show the pres­i­dent’s com­mit­ment to root­ing out en­demic cor­rup­tion that has stag­nated the de­vel­op­ment of Africa’s largest econ­omy and oil pro­ducer.

One thing that un­der­lines the sus­pi­cious na­ture of some of th­ese deals is the sta­tus of the com­pa­nies in­volved - it ap­pears that some of them were just set up for th­ese phan­tom con­tracts.

Even in sit­u­a­tions where the con­tracts were ex­e­cuted, it is al­leged that some of­fi­cials who owned th­ese firms through prox­ies helped them to avoid pay­ing tax.

Apart from cash, govern­ment says it has seized some prop­er­ties be­long­ing to some of the in­dicted in­di­vid­u­als.^ (BBC)

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