Query defense budgets since 2015, CSOs implores EFCC, ICPC – Nexus News
A Coalition of 200 Civil Society Organizations (CSOs) has implored the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC), Independent Corrupt Practices and other related offenses Commission (ICPC) and other relevant agencies to commence a strict investigation of defense budgets between 2015 and 2022.
This was as ICPC reported that a retired High Court judge frustrated the prosecution of a former military officer arraigned for diverting N4 billion from military budget into personal use.
Specifically, the group wants to focus on procurement processes, contract awards and welfare of personnel.
The expected query, the group added, must include the Office of the National Security Adviser (ONSA), as well as all former and present service chiefs within the period under review.
Operating under the aegis of National Coalition of Civil Society for Peace and Security, the group announced its demand on the rising insecurity in the country and other tendencies threatening national peace, amid the huge budgets for intelligence and security agencies.
In a press release signed by the National President, Dr. Umar Abdulkadir, and National Secretary, Dr. Gbenga Oshinowo, the group applauded President Muhammadu Buhari for the huge budgetary allocations he has made available to the defense and security sectors, in the last seven years.
According to the press release, the development was indicative of the dedication of the President towards a secure and orderly society, where investment opportunities will grow.
“Unfortunately, there has been no corresponding result to justify the huge investments in the critical defence and security sector, which run into trillions of naira, in the last seven years.
“These investments, to all intents and purposes, are a demonstration of Buhari’s commitment to the safety of Nigerians,” the group said.
It stated that the probe has become necessary, in view of the fact that Buhari will be leaving office on May 29, 2023, and the compelling need for the world to know the truth surrounding the trillions of naira budgeted for defense and security.
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In the case of the retired officer, ICPC did not disclose the name of the judge, but stated that such action would ensnare the fight against corruption in the country.
Speaking at a National Policy Dialogue on ‘Corruption and Insecurity in Nigeria’ in Abuja, yesterday, ICPC Chairman, Prof. Bolaji Owasanoye, disclosed that the former military officer, in the twilight of his reign, deposited N4 billion from the military budget into the accounts of two companies linked to him.
Owasanoye revealed that the money was used to procure properties in Abuja in the names of cronies and proxies. He, however, stated that the judge in charge of the case frustrated the recovery process by deciding to forfeit some of the assets to the Federal Government and the rest left to the suspect.
He said: “Recently, ICPC arrested a military contractor that received, over a period of less than 10 years, cumulative sum of about N6 billion from the Nigerian Army in suspicious circumstances and in violation of extant legislation.
“The commission’s recovery of huge sums in local and foreign currencies, luxury cars, customized mobile phones, designer watches, including three Rolexes, as well as property documents from the premises of the contractor underscore the corruption that often attend military procurement.
“Some former military and security personnel are being investigated by ICPC and our sister agency for embezzlement of funds allocated to security.”
The ICPC boss said that while the commission has filed notice of appeal, “this strange development aggravates an already bad situation and escalates insecurity and impunity.”