• Says the President is on pay back mission
By DOMINIC UZU, Regional Editor, North West
TWO renowned elder statesmen, Alhaji Tanko Yakassai, and Dr. Frederick Fasehun, have berated President Muhammadu Buhari over what they considered as deliberate neglect of the rule of law or re-introduction of subtle autocracy in the leadership of the country.
Both elder statesmen articulated their views in response to the defiance of court orders by the Directorate of Security Service (DSS) in the case of alleged illegal arms deal involving erstwhile National Security Adviser (NSA) to former President Goodluck Jonathan, Colonel Sambo Dasuki (retd).
Speaking to National Daily at the weekend, Yakassai, Chairman, Northern Elders Council (NEC), accused President Buhari of violating the Oath of Office he took barely six months ago to govern the country in accordance with the constitution.
Yakassai said that both President Buhari and the Attorney General of the Federation have no right to disobey the ruling of a competent court of law of the country. He added that in doing so, they will be jettisoning democracy and re-introducing dictatorship which many Nigerians fought in past years with immense sacrifices.
“Since President Buhari and the Attorney General have decided to disobey the court order which says that Col. Sambo Dasuki be allowed to travel abroad for medical attention, it means that Buhari is all out on a revenge mission,” Yakassai said.
According to him, Buhari has disappointed Nigerians and, particularly, those who fought for the freedom of this country and its democracy. “I would like the Arewa Consultative Forum (ACF), Northern Elders Forum (NEF) and Jama’atu Nasril Islam who were bent on making Buhari president to take note of his autocratic system of his government,” he said,
Also speaking to National Daily, Fasehun, Founder, Oodua People’s Congress (OPC), scolded the president for condoning impunity and weakening the judiciary, which, he said, is an arm of government like the executive.
The National Chairman, Unity Party of Nigeria (UPN) contended that the country is not in democracy yet, and neither is the government guided by the rule of law. “There is so much lawlessness and impunity that the judiciary is fast losing its significance in our democratic process,” Fasehun declared.
He decried that the government, though civilian in making, is actually governing with impunity and seeming tyranny. “Where a court order has been given and the President flouts the court order, how can you claim change in the democracy, except change from democracy to autocracy, as we are seeing now.” He asserted that democracy is the rule of law.
Fasehun also protested the earlier charge of treason against Dasuki before his recent indictment by a Presidential committee. “We also noticed that they don’t commute anybody for treason without actually looking into the circumstances for his being a suspect. You must set up a committee to look into his activities, why you want to charge him for treason. Treason is the most grievous offence a citizen can commit against the country,” he said.
“For the government to charge a citizen for treason, which it is not prepared to show the result of investigation leading to the discovery of that offence, smacks of a deliberate attempt to give a dog a bad name in order to hang it,” he declared.
The UPN Chairman further argued that it requires a handsome figure to bail anybody charged with treason; and granting bail on self recognition is not, particularly, pleasant; such treason charge is not believable, not credible.
Fasehun attributed the Dasuki episode to political vengeance. According to him, what Nigerians are getting all over the place is payback time because the treason charge wasn’t sustainable. ‘They created the committee that indicated Dasuki to find acceptable legal basis to accomplish their set agenda. So, Buhari is merely on payback mission against Dasuki.”
Fasehun expressed the expectation that the Nigeria Bar Association (NBA) should speak up and throw better light on the situation, which he said is a serious threat to the country’s developing democracy.
“You don’t wait until somebody’s rights have been trampled to death before you start shouting. You don’t close the door when the horse has bolted away. This is the time to guide our democracy.
“If the NBA believes that the rule of law is what we call democracy, and they are custodians of the rule of law, they should, then, enlighten the country and the citizens whether the rule of law permits state authorities to flout orders of the court of law with impunity.
The NBA must be seen to be correcting the situation and the judiciary also that is an equal arm of government must rise to the challenge,” he declared.
The OPC leader was of the view that the picture being painted goes to show that the other arms of government are not equal with the executive.
According to him, it only means there is only one arm of government in this country and the judiciary is not equal to that arm of government.
“That is not constitutional, The judiciary, the legislature and the executive are arms of our democratic government and if you violate the right or suppress the power of one arm, you violate the rights and suppress the powers of the others; that gives room to injustice,” Fasehun stated.
The Presidential Probe, the indictment
President Buhari had in August directed the National Security Adviser, Major-General Babagana Monguno (rtd), to set up a committee to investigate the procurement of arms and equipment in the Armed Forces and Defence sector from 2007 to 2015 used in the fight against the Boko Haram insurgents. The 13-member committee was inaugurated on 31 August, 2015.
The committee was constituted and inaugurated after the Directorate of Security Service (DSS) had carried out search in two houses owned by Dasuki in Abuja and Sokoto and came up with reports that huge cache of arms including bulletproof cars were found at both houses.
Thereafter, Dasuki was put on trial for treason but was granted bail by the court on self recognition. His diplomatic passport was, however, confiscated. When he needed to travel overseas for medical treatment, the court directed the DSS to release Dasuki’s passport but was ignored while the DSS continued to lay siege on Dasuki’s house.
It was gathered that while the committee is yet to conclude its investigation, it released an interim report which was said to have uncovered certain illegal and fraudulent financial deals.
The committee’s findings revealed interventions from organizations that provided funds to the Office of the National Security Adviser, Defence Headquarters, Army Headquarters Naval Headquarters and Nigerian Air Force Headquarters, both in local and foreign currencies.
The interim report revealed that total extra budgetary interventions articulated by the committee is N643,817,955,885.18. The foreign currency component is to the tune of $2,193,815,000.83.
These amounts exclude grants from the State Governments and funds collected by the DSS and Police. It was observed that in spite of this huge financial intervention, very little was expended to support defense procurement, according to the report.
The committee also observed that of 513 contracts awarded at $8,356,525,184.32; N2,189,265,724,404.55 and €54,000.00; Fifty Three (53) were failed contracts amounting to $2,378,939,066.27 and N13,729,342,329.87 respectively.
The committee also disclosed that the amount of foreign currency spent on failed contracts exceeded in double the $1bn loan that the National Assembly approved for borrowing to fight the Boko Haram insurgents in the northeast.
The panel also discovered that payments to the tune of N3,850,000,000.00 were made to a single company by the former NSA without documented evidence of contractual agreements or fulfillment of tax obligations to the FGN.
Further findings revealed that between March 2012 and March 2015, the erstwhile NSA, Lt Col MS Dasuki (rtd) awarded fictitious and phantom contracts to the tune of N2,219,188,609.50, $1,671,742,613.58 and €9,905,477.00. The contracts which were said to be for the purchase of four Alpha Jets, 12 helicopters, bombs and ammunition were not executed and the equipment were never supplied to the Nigerian Air Force, neither are they in its inventory.
It was further revealed that out of these figures, two companies, were awarded contracts to the tune of N350,000,000.00, $1,661,670,469.71 and €9,905,477.00 alone. This was without prejudice to the consistent non-performance of the companies in the previous contracts awarded, the report noted.
The committee also discovered that the former NSA directed the Central Bank of Nigeria to transfer the sum of $132,050,486.97 and €9,905,473.55 to the accounts of Societe D’equipmente Internationaux in West Africa, the United Kingdom and the United States of America for un-ascertained purposes, without any contract documents to explain the transactions.
Meanwhile, a statement, last week, by the Special Adviser to the President on Media and Publicity, Femi Adesina, indicated inter alia, that “In light of these findings, President Muhammadu Buhari has directed that the relevant organizations arrest and bring to book, all individuals who have been found complicit in these illegal and fraudulent acts.”
Dasuki, Jonathan react
Dasuki, reacting to the indictment, had said that that all contracts and accruing payments were made based on the approval of former President Jonathan, adding that due process and military procurement regulations were followed in all the transactions.
“Nigerians should note that all the services generated the types of equipment needed, sourced suppliers most times and after consideration by the Office of the NSA, the President will approve application for payment,” Dasuki declared.
Former President Jonathan, at a forum in Washington DC, while speaking on: “Presidential elections and democratic consolidation in Africa: Case studies on Nigeria and Tanzania”, said he never awarded any contract in the range of $2 billion dollars.. “Where did the money come from…? Sometimes, I feel sad when people mention these figures,” he said.
The National Daily findings indicate that the latter configuration of the issue arising from the contradictory responses of the former President and Dasuki appears to complicate the case for the NSA but Nigerians insist the rule of law must be followed.