The Economic and Financial Crimes Commission will this week interrogate at least 16 military officers as part of its investigations into $2.1bn arms scandal.
It was learnt on Saturday that among those to be quizzed were the immediate past Chief of Defence Staff, Air Marshal Alex Badeh (retd.) and a former Chief of Air Staff, Air Marshal MD Umar (retd.).
It was also gathered that a former Director of Production and the Defence Headquarters, Air Vice Marshal O. T. Oguntoyinbo would be quizzed too.
Another source said that invitations would be sent to those concerned early in the week and they would be required to appear before the commission on or before Friday
Findings showed that the officers were in the second batch of military officers that would be interrogated by the anti-graft agency.
It was gathered that the EFCC would investigate more military personnel recommended for probe by a presidential panel on arms probe.
A source in the EFCC, who spoke to SUNDAY PUNCH on condition of anonymity, said, “The commission will begin the second batch of interrogation of military officers this week. A former Chief of Defence staff, Badeh, and an-ex Chief of Air Staff, Umar, will appear before the commission this week.”
The source, who did not give the names of the other officers, said the former Chief of Defence Staff and Umar were in the second batch.
He said the commission commenced the first round of the probe with the questioning of the former Chief of Air Staff, Air Marshal Adesola Amosu (retd.), and another Air Commodore whose house was seized recently by the anti-graft agency in Kaduna last week.
It was gathered that more high profile interrogations would take place in the coming week, even though the source did not give the details of those scheduled to report to the commission on Monday.
Our correspondent could not get the Head of Media and Publicity of the EFCC, Mr. Wilson Uwujaren, as calls to his mobile telephone line could not connect.
President Muhammadu Buhari, on January 15, had ordered the EFCC to investigate 18 serving and retired military officers, including Amosu, Badeh and Umar.
The EFCC is also investigating 11 serving officers, including Air Marshal A.M. Mamu (Chief of Administration, Nigeria Air Force); AVM Oguntoyinbo (former Director of Production, Defence Headquarters); AVM T. Omenyi (Managing Director, NAF Holdings); and AVM J.B. Adigun (former Chief of Accounts and Budget).
Others are AVM R. A. Ojuawo (Air Force Tactical Air Command, Markudi); AVM J.A. Kayode-Beckley (Director, Armament Research in Air Force Research and Development Centre); Air Cdre. A.O. Ogunjobi; Air Cdre G.M.D. Gwani; Air Cdre A.Y. Lassa; Col. N. Ashinze (Special Assistant to the former NSA, Dasuki;) and Air Cdr. S.O.Makinde.
Also ordered to be probed are 21 firms and their directors, including Messrs Societe D’ Equipments Internationaux; Himma Aboubakar; Aeronautical Engineering and Technical Services Limited; Messrs Syrius Technologies; Dr Theresa A. Ittu; Sky Experts Nig Ltd; Omenyi Ifeanyi Tony; Huzee Nig Ltd; GAT Techno Dynamics Ltd; and Gbujie Peter Obie.
Other firms and individuals are Onuri Samuel Ugochukw; Spacewebs Interservices Ltd; Oguntoyinbo Tayo; Oguntoyinbo Funmi; Delfina Oil Geonel Intergrated Services Ltd, Sachi Felicia; Mudaki Polycarp and Wolfgang Reinl.
Meanwhile there are indications the EFCC may, this week, invite two sons of a former Minister of State for Defence, Senator Musiliu Obanikoro, for interrogation in connection with the ongoing probe into the $2.1bn arms fund adiversion.
It was gathered on Saturday that the commission would send invitation to Gbolahan and Babajide Obanikoro and that they would be required to appear before the EFCC before the end of the week.
The commission has traced N4.75bn from the Central Bank of Nigeria Imprest Account of the National Security Adviser to Silva Mcnamara, a company linked to the Obanikoros, between June 6, 2014 and December, 12, 2015.
The two sons of the former minister are said to be on the board of the company, while the third person, Mr. Ogunseye, was said to be sole signatory to the company’s account with Diamond Bank.
EFCC sources said the commission is probing Macnamara because there was no evidence of contract award for the release of the money to the company’s account.
The N4.75bn was transferred in several tranches from the CBN to the company’s account between June 6, 2014 and December, 12, 2015.
The source said, “The investigation into the N4.75bn is ongoing. It is only logical that these guys are questioned because of their involvement in the issue.
“They will be invited to appear before the commission to shed light on the company earned the money without contract award. Barring last minute changes, they may be summoned this week.”
Obanikoro’s media aide, Mr. Jonathan Eze, had on Friday denied allegations that the former minister was involved in any fraud.
According to him, the allegations are mere speculations and urged members of the public to treat them as such.
He said, “As far as Senator Obanikoro is concerned, these are mere allegations that have not been proven and can never be proved. The former minister insists that his children were never directors at the company and were never signatories.
“These allegations are the handiwork of Sahara Reporters and I have taken them to court. Very soon, the truth will be made known but I urge members of the public not to believe these allegations. Senator Obanikoro’s children are victims of cheap politics but the truth will be revealed.”
Obanikoro is currently resident in the United States where he has registered as a student of History at Oglethorpe University in Georgia, USA. One of the two sons is said to be resident in Suwanee, Gwinnett County, in the State of Georgia, US.
Our correspondent could not get the Head of Media and Publicity of the EFCC, Mr. Wilson Uwujaren, as the calls to his mobile telephone line did not connect.