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Reps summon arms audit committee chairman over $459m Navy surveillance project

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The House of Representatives committee investigating the status of recovered loots has summoned the Chairman of the panel that investigated arms procurement from 2007 to 2015, John Odey, 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 of 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, had submitted a third interim report in 2016.

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

Director of Finance and Admin in the ONSA, Brig. Gen. Ja’afaru Mohammed, who represented the Office of the National Security Adviser (ONSA) 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.

Ja’afaru, 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.

A member of the committee, Sada Soli (APC, Katsina), queried, “If it was a post no debt, why was there movement in the account? The ‘in and out’ shows that there were transactions.”

Responding, Ja’afaru 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.

Read also: Reps, ONSA, disagree on whereabouts of $44m recovered from Lagos apartment

“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.”

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

By Victor Uzoho…

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