Anti-graft coalition, the Civil Society Network Against Corruption (CSNAC), has called on the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) to imvestigate General Tukur Yusuf Buratai, the Chief of Army Staff, over alleged illegal diversion of Army funds to purchase two properties in Dubai, United Arab Emirates. The call was made in a petition addressed to the EFCC. Signed by CSNAC’s Chairman, Olanrewaju Suraj, the petition described Buratai’s conduct as a violation of public service rules.
“The Nigerian military, in times past, was known for diligence, professionalism and high sense of discipline.
“However, it is quite unfortunate that in recent times, corruption has continued to wreak havoc on the once revered institution,” said CSNAC.
The group observed that it is especially saddening that the corrupt practices directly impacted on the welfare of gallant officers. According to CSNAC, if revelation is found to be true, “then the actions of the COAS is a great disservice, an act of sabotage against the Nigerian State and a violation of the law prohibiting a public officer from investing or participating in any other business safe for farming.”
CSNAC also argued that a situation in which funds earmarked for the welfare of troops fighting to protect the country’s territorial integrity and uphold internal security are diverted for personal use demands serious, immediate investigation and prosecution of anyone involved.
Drawing from a report published on 24 June by SaharaReporters, CSNAC said the medium exposed how Buratai and his two wives bought a Dubai property that was paid for in one transaction.
Quoting copiously from the report, CSNAC invited EFCC’s attention to the fact that the purchase of the properties was funded by monies from a vehicle contract scam executed during Buratai’s time as the Director of Procurement at the Army Headquarters.
The said contract, SaharaReporters reported, was awarded by the Nigerian Army for the supply of new vehicles and motorcycles for the use of troops involved in the anti-terrorism offensive in the northeastern part of the country.
However, second-hand vehicles and motorcycles were imported from the Niger Republic by Usman Gamawa, founder of Baggash Investments Limited and Buratai’s front. When the vehicles and motorcycles arrived Nigeria, they were moved to Mogadishu Cantonment for refurbishment. This was supervised by one Sergeant Dadan Garba.
Some of the vehicles and motorcycles have since broken down, leaving troops exposed to danger.
This sparked anger among the troops, resulting in a petition addressed to President Muhammadu Buhari, urging him to order an investigation into the contract scam. The petition, authored by the Concerned Soldiers and Officers from the North East, accused Buratai of using Gamawa as a front to supply second-hand vehicles and motorcycles and of buying a property, along with his wives, funds diverted from the dodgily executed contract. Attached to the petition was a document purchase agreement, showing that Buratai and his wives had, on January 13, 2013, reached an agreement with the seller for the purchase of the property, Project TFG Marina Hotel, Unit “2711.”
The asking price for the property was AED 1,542,000.00 (or $419,826.06 or N120m). The documents showed that Buratai paid a total sum of AED 1,498, 534.00 (N115.6m) because the sellers gave concessions of AED 43,466, made up of “incentives, promotions, and early payment bonus.”
The agreement detailing full payment for the property and the transfer of its ownership to the Buratais was signed on January 13, 2014. In the purchase agreement, the Army boss was captured as “Mr. Tukur Yusuf Buratai, holder of passport No. A04250623.” The general’s wives were identified as Mrs. Aishatu Tukur Buratai, holder of passport No. A03400260, and Mrs. Umar Kalsum Tukur Buratai, holder of passport No. A03239920.
Also, the aggrieved soldiers and officers alleged that Buratai, since assuming office as COAS last July, had been making huge deposits in his various bank accounts. His Skye Bank account (1770380452) was credited with N10 million on July 24, 2015. On August 7, 2015, N10 million was paid into the same account. Three days later, the account received yet another N10 million. On August 11 and 17, N4 million and N3, 270,000 were deposited in the account respectively.
A Skye Bank lodgement voucher obtained by SaharaReporters showed that the phone number on it belongs to a Major Adegbola, according to TrueCaller. Adegbola confirmed his identity to SaharaReporters, but denied knowing Buratai. He later claimed and later his name was actually Joshua.
A statement signed by Colonel Sani Kukasheka Usman, acting Director of Army Public Relations, attempted a desperate and flimsy defence of Buratai and his family. Usman said the Buratais own two properties in Dubai that were paid for in installments through personal savings. The purchase of the property, he also claimed, was made three years ago. The claim is at variance with purchase agreement sighted by SaharaReporters.
Colonel Usman was again exposed as a liar by claiming that Buratai was never a Director of Procurement at the Defence Headquarters. He was exposed by the website of Bureau of Public Procurement (BPP). According to the site bpp.gov.ng, Buratai attended the 2014 Defence Headquarters Procurement Seminar as the Director of Procurement and even delivered a paper in that capacity.