- He is a rich farmer capable of buying choice property – Army
By DENNIS OKOSUN
The Presidency is riddled with confusion over a petition by Concerned Soldiers and Officers from the North East, a mutinous splinter of the Nigerian Army, sent a petition to President Muhammadu Buhari, accusing General Tukur Buratai, Chief of Army Staff (COAS), of mismanaging funds when he was Director of Procurement at the Army headquarters in Abuja and acquiring property in Dubai worth AED1.5 million (N120 million).
The proceeds of the fraud, the soldiers revealed, as reported Sahara Reporters, were used by Buratai to acquire two property paid for at once in Dubai in January 2013.
The agreement indicating full payment for the house and the handing over of ownership to the Buratais was signed on January 13, 2014. The document identified the COAS as “Mr. Tukur Yusuf Buratai, holder of passport No. A04250623.”
In the petition, two wives of the serving general were said to be co-owners of the properties: Project TFG Marina Hotel, Unit 2711 priced at AED1.5 million (N120 million).
Meanwhile, speaking to National Daily, Colonel Sani Usman, Director, Army Public Relations Officer, affirmed the clarification statement earlier made by the Army authorities. He reiterated that the petition is mere campaign of calumny against the COAS, noting that they did it last March but didn’t succeed and are now going through an online publication.
Usman stated that Baratai, apart from being the COAS, is also a big farmer and has money to acquire property as he desires, stating that the petition is to create distraction for the COAS.
He reassured Nigerians that the petition will not distract the COAS from performing his duties of restoring security in the country.
The COAS was said to have paid about N115 million through a company called SIGMA 111. The sellers, according to available documents, gave concessions of AED 43,466, made up of “incentives, promotions, and early payment bonus.”
The COAS’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.
At the peak of Operation Restore Order in the northeast three years ago, under former President Goodluck Jonathan, the army authorities were alleged to have acquired out-dated tactical and operational equipment for the prosecution of the counterterrorism campaign.
Many of the service chiefs, then, were investigated and taken to court. Among them were ex-COAS Azubuike Ihejirika, CDS Alex Badeh, and others.
And Buratai, the rebellious soldiers claimed, had been involved in the purchase of a fleet of second-hand vehicles coordinated by a front company owned by Usman Gamawa, founder of Baggash Investment Limited.
According to the petition, rather than supply new vehicles as the contract demanded, Gamawa shipped in second-hand vehicles and motorcycles from Niger Republic.
The vehicles were said to have been touched up at the Mogadishu Cantonment under the supervision of Staff Sergeant Dadan Garba.
The Army authorities have, however, responded. They admitted the COAS actually owns properties in Dubai.“It is a fact that the Buratai family have two property in Dubai that were paid for instalmentally through personal savings three years ago,” the army said in a statement on Friday.
The Army declared: “This, along with other personal assets, has consistently been declared by General Buratai in his Assets Declaration Form as Commander Multinational Joint Task Force Commander and as Chief of Army Staff.”
The force denied Buratai has an account with Skye Bank where the disgruntled soldiers said the money was deposited.
Discrediting Sahara Reporters and its sources, the Army headquarters said the COAS was never near either Defence Headquarters or Army Headquarters in 2013 or the Directorate of Procurement.
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However, information available on the Nigerian Army website regarding the career trajectory of Buratai contradicts the Army Spokesperson’s assertion. According the Army website, the embattled COAS was indeed director of procurement at the Defence Headquarters between 2014/2015.
“As a matter of fact, the Nigerian Army never had a Directorate of Procurement till when he established one last year when he became Chief of Army Staff,” the statement added, noting that the recent report was the first in a series of campaign of calumny against Buratai.
Obviously, this is about the third time in the eight years that element within the armed forces will be instigating an uprising against their authorities. In 2014, 97 soldiers were charged with mutiny by the military authorities. No fewer than 66 of them were sentenced to death.
In a separate incident, 12 soldiers who also opened fire on a general officer commanding were charged with mutiny and sentenced to death. A lot more of the sentences, however, have been commuted to jail terms.
What puzzles Nigeria about the fresh gang-up is the timing—when the military authorities and Buhari claim they are winning the war on terrorism.
The petitioners further claimed that, since his appointment as COAS last July, General Buratai had been making numerous hefty deposits in his various bank accounts. For example, his Skye Bank account (1770380452) received a deposit of N10 million on July 24, 2015. On August 7, 2015, another N10 million was paid into the same account. Three days later, the account was credited with yet another sum of N10 million. On August 11 and 17, N4 million and N3, 270,000 were credited to the account respectively.
SaharaReporters said it contacted the owner of the phone number on the Skye Bank Lodgement Voucher which was found to belong to a Major Adegbola, according to TrueCaller. It said Adegbola confirmed that he was “Major Adegbola” by saying “correct” but denied knowing Buratai and later said that his name was actually Joshua.
Sources speaking to Sahara Reporter said that the number on the voucher was of Mr. Buratai’s middleman.