Nigeria: Reps Panel Summons Arms Audit Committee Chairman Over $459 Million Navy Surveillance Project

The audit committee investigated procurement of arms for the military from 2007 to 2015.

The House of Representatives committee investigating the status of recovered loot has summoned the Chairman of the panel that investigated arms procurement from 2007 to 2015, John Odey, a retired air vice-marshal, over the $459 million falcon eye project.

The committee on Tuesday also summoned the management of RTCom Nigeria Limited, the company that executed the project, which is a maritime surveillance infrastructure for the Nigerian Navy.

The panel, set up by President Muhammadu Buhari to audit procurement of arms by and for the Nigerian military between 2007 and 2015, submitted a third interim report in 2016.

Mr Odey and RTCOM were summoned to explain the circumstances surrounding the transfer of N6.1 billion to the NSA account.

Mohammed Jafar, who represented the Office of the National Security Adviser at the hearing, said the ONSA was not involved in the recovery of loots.

When queried about the transfer of funds in and out of the recovery account, he urged the committee to summon the Odey-led committee.

Mr Jafar, who is the Director of Finance ONSA, had said the account was a post no debit account, but the committee discovered some transactions from the account.

"If it was a post no debt, why was there movement in the account? The 'in and out' shows that there were transactions," Sada Soli (APC, Katsina), a member of the committee, said.

Responding to the question, Mr Jafar said: "The committee had the mandate to audit all the defence procurements and expenditures. The committee commenced its tasks at ONSA and had members drawn from various security and intelligence agencies, including the EFCC. During the audit, a recollection account was opened in the Central Bank of Nigeria for the deposit of recovered funds.

"The account was designated NSA funds recovery account, by the time the committee was rounding off its tasks, the total amount recovered was N9billion and $7.4million, and they were deposited in the CBN account. This account was a post no debit account, as such, no withdrawal was authorised or made from that account.

"On the issue of N6.1billion paid to NSA in August 2017 and later returned in January, it was for the falcon eye project, the contractor is RTCOM. The project was awarded in 2014, before this administration. The total amount for the project was $459 million.

"The NSA met that project ongoing when the investigation started, they invited them for contract verification exercise. At that point, the money was paid to us, not on request.

"The same amount was paid back to the company when the committee cleared them."

Mr Jafar also explained that the Osborne Tower loot is not with the ONSA.

"NSA coordinates the activities of security agencies but does not participate in the recovery of assets, unless when the president directs otherwise.

"I am not aware of the amount. The money with us is not from Osborn Tower. Let me give you the background. At the heat of crisis in NIA, Mr President directed the committee, headed by the Vice President, Yemi Osinbajo, the then Minister of Finance, Kemi Adeosun and National Security Adviser, Babangana Monguno. In the course of that investigation, I was tasked to go and take over the office of finance in the NIA, in the interim by the Vice President.

"They said all the funds there, I should count them and document them properly. The one that I actually took over, I was asked to move that money to the NSA and keep--It is not that the money was looted, that I should keep the money until they are done with the investigation. So I went to the account and took over that money. When they concluded their investigation, Mr President directed that we should return the money. That was the money we returned and I have presented the certificate."

The Chairman of the House committee, Adejoro Adeogun, gave the directive for both Mr Odey and RTCOM to appear.

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