EXCLUSIVE By DESERT HERALD
Since the emergence of President Muhammadu Buhari as the Commander in-Chief of the Armed Forces of the Federal Republic of Nigeria he has left no one in doubt through making huge financial commitments including obtaining loans for the purpose of procurement, training and retraining of armed forces personnel at the battle field to eliminate the terrorist group, Boko Haram.
Perhaps it was President Buhari’s commitment to provide succour to the helpless people of the North East that made him to give unprecedented security appointments to Officers of the North Eastern extraction. His National Security Adviser, Gen. Babagana Monguno (rtd), the Chief of Air Staff who is now at the centre of a contract controversy, Air Marshal Sadique Abubakar and the Chief of Army Staff, Gen. Tukur Buratai are all from the North East. The expectation of the President is that having come from a region that was devastated by rampant terror attacks, appointing officers from the same region will help in no small measure in defeating all the terrorists groups because ordinarily it will be expected that they will put in more dedication and patriotism to save their region from chaos and destruction.
While the NSA and the Army Chief have, despite occasional complaints and setbacks against them, demonstrated reasonable prudence in the administration and management of the funds dedicated to fight the terrorists, the case of the Nigerian Air force under Air Marshal Sadique, notwithstanding some questionable videos of ‘successful’ air strikes and other related propaganda in the media, is to say the least lamentable and calls for thorough investigation.
There is also growing resentment in the NAF about appointments under Sadique that promote and encourage insubordination which has become an abuse to the military’s culture of discipline and seniority. Key offices that were hitherto being given to more senior officers like Group Captains, Air Commodores are today under junior officers like Squadron Leaders, while many higher officers including Air Vice Marshals, AVMs on account of reported vendetta have over the years suffered being kept redundant or in offices not befitting their ranks.
It would be recalled that in an effort to give the Nigeria Air Force all the needed support it requires, President Buhari has since 2016 gave the NAF the approval to purchase 10 Super Mushshak light basic trainer jets from Pakistan. The deal for the purchase was finally concluded in April 2018. It is meant to boost training at the Air Force main flight Training School in the northern city of Kaduna.
The deal for the purchase of the planes was signed on behalf of the NAF by AVM Iya Ahmed Abdullahi now retired. The Super Mushshak planes, which are based on a Swedish design but built under license in Pakistan, are already in service with Saudi Arabia, Oman, Iran and South Africa. The only difference, therefore, between those of the countries mentioned and the ones that were purchased under Air Marshal Sadique is the questionable nature of the total contract sum, the standard of the aircrafts at the time of purchase and their actual present condition.
DESERT HERALD was opportune to see the contract details, specifications and the supposed grades of the aircrafts. This paper can confirm that there are glaring violations and clear instances of fraud if the current position of the 10 Super Mushshak aircrafts is anything to go by. In the course of filling this report we have also obtained credible information from some of the officers that used the aircrafts.
DESERT HERALD can reveal that while the final delivery of the 10 aircrafts was concluded in April 2018, all the 10 have already started giving problems by 2019, less than one year after delivery and elaborate ceremony/media propaganda that deceived the President and Nigerians. All the 10 aircrafts were based in Kaduna. This paper can confirm that their serviceability status considering the questionable nature of the contract which compromises standard and the approved quality is low.
Because of the deplorable condition of the aircrafts they require constant services with huge expenditure on the part of the NAF. Certainly, whenever Air Marshal Sadique is not in-charge there will be a lot of questions the likes of DESERT HERALD will asked for answers about what we believe to be a huge scandal in the purchase and management of the 10 Super Mushshak planes that were negotiated and bought by him.
Several NAF officers that spoke to DESERT HERALD on condition of anonymity lamented the deterioration of allowances and some entitlements of personnel under the leadership of Air Marshal Sadique even as the Navy in particular and the Army continued to make it a priority. This paper learnt that None Regular Allowances of officers and men are being paid by the Service, while IPPIS pays salaries of personnel.
While the Army and the Navy under their Chiefs have paid all None Regular Allowances of their personnel, Air Marshal Sadique as at the time of filling this report has refused to pay for similar personnel that are serving in the Defence Headquarters and other Tri-Service institutions like those in the Nigeria Defense Academy, Command and Staff College Jaji etc despite several directives by the Chief of Defense Staff in the last three months to effect the payment without further delay. The directives of the CDS, even though he is not even supposed to tell him what should have been a priority, were grossly disregarded by the NAF Chief.
The relationship between Air Marshal Sadique and his top officers even for the purpose of coordinating his team very well in order to succeed in the fight against Boko Haram and to prevent any possibility of internal sabotage is very poor. It is even worse with very senior officers. DESERT HERALD can reveal that even among the AVMs that recently retired from the service including the current Director General of NEMA AVM Mohammed, AVM Wakili, AVM Ebong, AVM Sani Ahmed, AVM Adamu S, AVM Awomodu, AVM Ntukogu, AVM Okoye and AVM Emma A all had poor working relationships with the NAF Chief and each of them with sad stories to tell about Sadique’s alleged nature of vengeance, vendetta and lack of human relations.
Credible inside sources confided in DESERT HERALD that the office of the National Security Adviser is not comfortable at all with the happenings in the NAF under Air Marshal Sadique and considers most of the acts against the Chief so far as not only acts of sabotage in the ongoing war against Boko Haram, but also a clear act of treason against the Nigerian nation. The sources also confided in this paper that silent investigations against the NAF boss have revealed chilling evidences of alleged corruption, contract inflation and violations as well as clear cases of alleged money laundering which they revealed in most cases were allegedly being executed by the official aircrafts of the NAF to ease the process.
The search light on Mr. Sadique has also been extended to members of his immediate family and that of his wife. While this paper is in compilation of most of those allegations against Mr. Sadique reportedly being carried out through some intelligent agencies, the name of one officer that is believed to be very close to the Chief of Air Staff has featured prominently.
He is one Squadron Leader Yakubu, who usually operates between Lagos in Ikeja to Abuja as an errand to his boss. Subsequent follow up reports as we gather them will reveal so much including who is actually Squadron Leader Yakubu and his relationship with his boss as well as the full details about the controversial and scandalous purchase of the 10 Super Mushshak planes.
Efforts by this paper to reach out to the NAF boss for comments particularly on the purchase of the 10 Super Mushshak aircrafts and his inability to pay the allowances of his men despite several directives by the CDS proved abortive as several calls by this paper to his known mobile phone was not answered.