By Mustapha Usman
The House of Representatives has mandated a Joint Committee on National Security and Intelligence and Public Procurement to investigate the Jon Ode-led Presidential arms probe panel which was recently disbanded by the federal government.
The joint committee, chaired by Aminu Jaji of Committee on National Security and Intelligence and Oluwole Oke of the Committee on Public Procurement, will begin investigation of the probe panel and arms procurements from January 2012 to May 2015.
The committee has called for submission of written memoranda/position papers from top government officials and 241 firms.
A member of the committee who would not want his name in print told PRNigeria that other stakeholders and the general public with relevant information on the matter are requested to make submissions before holding the public hearings.
Those officially invited to make submissions of their memoranda include the chairman and members of the panel, National Security Adviser, defence minister, finance ministers, interior minister, governor of Central Bank of Nigeria, accountant general of the federation and auditor general of the federation.
Other invited include Secretary to the Government of the Federation, Service Chiefs and Ex-Service Chiefs from 2010 to 2016, director-general of State Security Service, director-general of National Intelligence Agency, acting chairman Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, director-general Bureau of Public Procurement, executive chairman of the Federal Inland Revenue Service, director-general of the Pension Commission, director-general Industrial Training Fund and managing director Social Insurance Trust Fund.
The arm probe panel was inaugurated in 2015 by the Presidency to investigate procurement of hardware and ammunition in the Armed Forces from 2007 to 2015 and to identify irregularities and make recommendations for streamlining the procurement process in the military.
The panel had submitted its first interim report in November 2015 and presented the second report in January 2016.
Following that, President Muhammadu Buhari ordered the EFCC to investigate some serving and retired military officers, mainly from the Nigerian Air Force, NAF.
The president also directed investigations on the roles of the officers as well as some companies and their directors in fundamental breaches associated with the procurements by the office of the national security adviser and the Nigerian Air Force.
During their investigations, some members of the arm probe panel were accused of receiving bribes from individuals and companies that were being probed by the same panel. One of the members was later arrested and detained by the SSS for money-laundering and illegal possession of firearms.
Meanwhile, some serving security officials also accused the panel of merely criminalizing critical institutions and indicting groups and individuals through media trials without being arraigned in courts of competent jurisdiction where the accused could defend themselves.
Members of the disbanded arms probe panel include Mr Ode (chairman) Rear Admiral J.A. Aikhomu (retd.); Rear Admiral. E. Ogbor (retd.); Brig.-Gen. L. Adekagun (retd.); Brig.-Gen. M. Aminu-Kano (retd.); Brig.-Gen. N. Rimtip (retd.); Cdre T.D. Ikoli; Air Cdre U. Mohammed (retd.); Air Cdre I. Shafi’i; Col. A.A. Ariyibi; Group Capt C.A. Oriaku (rtd.); Acting Chairman of the EFCC, Mr. Ibrahim Magu and Brig-Gen Y.I. Shalangwa as its Secretary.