Nigeria indicts firms over arms fraud contracts


Nigeria has indicted more than 300 local and foreign companies and individuals, including military officers, over an arms scandal.

They are accused of defrauding the country of $241m (Sh24 billion) in fake contracts, a government statement says.

President Muhammadu Buhari ordered a probe last year after funds meant to buy weapons to fight Boko Haram militants were allegedly diverted.

More than $35m (Sh3.4 billion) has been recovered in the investigation so far.

The contracts were awarded by the office of the national security adviser from 2011 until 2015, the statement from the office of the president says.

It lists all the companies and individuals indicted including former National Security Adviser Sambo Dasuki, who is facing separate fraud charges linked to the arms scandal.

Mr Dasuki, who served under former President Goodluck Jonathan, has previously denied the allegations of corruption in relation to phantom contracts.

The investigation was done by a special committee appointed by President Buhari, who came to office in May partly on a promise to clamp down on graft.

The committee found that contracts were awarded “without any contractual agreement or evidence of jobs executed”, the statement says.

It gave an example of how one of the companies, Societe D’Equipement International, “was overpaid to the tune of $8.9m and $7m”.

The scale of the alleged fraud is massive considering the number of companies and individuals involved.

This is the first time such a detailed report has been made public and the fact that both serving and retired military officers have been indicted appears to show the president’s commitment to rooting out endemic corruption that has stagnated the development of Africa’s largest economy and oil producer.

One thing that underlines the suspicious nature of some of these deals is the status of the companies involved – it appears that some of them were just set up for these phantom contracts.

Even in situations where the contracts were executed, it is alleged that some officials who owned these firms through proxies helped them to avoid paying tax.
Apart from cash, government says it has seized some properties belonging to some of the indicted individuals.(BBC)



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