While Boko Haram swept across the country, a former national security adviser awarded ‘phantom contracts’ to buy 12 helicopters, four fighter jets, bombs that were never supplied.
President Buhari has ordered the arrest of Nigeria’s former national security adviser for allegedly stealing up to $2 billion in fraudulent arm dealings which deprived the Nigerian army of ammunition and equipment at the peak of its battles with Boko Haram’s insurgents.
It follows an audit of arms and military equipment procurement since 2007. The probe is said to have unveiled fraudulent practices by high-ranking officials including the former national security adviser Sambo Dasuki, who had already been sacked in July a few weeks after Buhari took office.
The report says Dasuki awarded “phantom contracts” to buy 12 helicopters, four fighter jets, bombs and ammunition worth $2 billion that were never supplied.
At the height of the Boko Haram attacks on villages and towns across Nigeria’s north east over the last three years the army was often reported to be losing the fight against the insurgents because the armed forces were ill-equipped. Soldiers were reportedly without ammunition and also unpaid. With tensions high among the ranks, there were incidents of mutiny as soldiers refused to fight unless they were provided with better arms.
Dasuki, a retired army lieutenant colonel who was appointed by president Goodluck Jonathan in June, 2012, has been locked in a legal tussle with Nigeria’s state security services. He has been under house arrest on charges of money laundering despite a court order demanding his release and approving a trip abroad for a medical check-up. During Dasuki’s time in office, Nigeria was caught up in an embarrassing money laundering scandal as South Africa seized two planes carrying millions of dollars in cash allegedly for an arms deal. Now though, Dasuki has more serious problems.
While Nigeria’s ill-equipped soldiers fought a losing battle against Boko Haram, who relentlessly carried out devastating attacks, the military’s lack of arms was certainly not as a result of a lack of funds. Buhari’s office used Twitter to share the president’s concern about the early findings of the probe.
“The findings made so far are extremely worrying considering that within the same period our troops were in desperate need of ammo/equipment,” Buhari said on Twitter.