A review of vital documents shows that the ministry of police affairs benefited from CBN intervention funds as claimed by suspended Governor Lamido Sanusi.
Nigeria’s police affairs ministry deliberately misled the House of Representatives in feigning ignorance of a presidential directive mandating the Central Bank of Nigeria to provide N19.7 billion for police equipment, and in denying receipt of the funds, a PREMIUM TIMES examination of the case has shown.
The claim by the permanent secretary, James Obiegbu, of the ministry’s non-involvement with the funds, in what the chairman of the House committee on public account, Solomon Olamilekan, described as an “official discussion”, came as lawmakers reviewed disbursement of government funds this week.
The expenditure, made public two weeks ago by the suspended governor of CBN, Lamido Sanusi, was spent on financing the purchase of new helicopters and security equipment for the police.
Mr. Sanusi, suspended last month over allegations of financial recklessness, said the funds were released on President Goodluck Jonathan’s instruction, a disclosure that sought to underscore how Mr. Jonathan personally authorised some of the spending the CBN’s boss would later be vilified for by the president and his aides.
But at a dramatic meeting of the house committee Tuesday, the police denied knowledge of the funds, and the ministry of police affairs, which supervises the police, also distanced itself from the disbursement.
The inspector general of police, Mohammed Abubakar, said the police knew nothing about the CBN allocation. His representative at the meeting, Ilesanmi Aguda, an assistant inspector general, said the ministry of police affairs would be better placed to respond to queries on the matter.
But the committee chairman, Mr. Olamilekan, quoted the permanent secretary, Mr. Obiegbu, as also distancing the ministry from the CBN money. “The perm sec approached me formally and told me that they don’t know anything about the money,” Mr. Olamilekan said.
Mr. Obiegbu could not be reached on Wednesday.
But documents reviewed by PREMIUM TIMES show that Mr. Obiegbu was merely deceiving the committee chairman, as his ministry clearly requested for, and took delivery of the CBN funds.
The ministry, alongside the police echelon, and the CBN, have been summoned to appear before the house committee Tuesday.
The papers, obtained exclusively by PREMIUM TIMES, show how the ministry of police affairs initiated a memo in 2010 asking for the CBN intervention, followed through with an application for contract award clearance from the Bureau of Public Procurement, BPP, and eventually awarded the contract for the purchases, having received approval from President Jonathan.
The ministry claimed it sought the intervention of the CBN because of the “enormous” cost of the contract.
The ministry said it relied on three sources of the funding, namely, the 2010 budget; the CBN and the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation, NNPC; and contributions from the police reforms fund.
It is not clear what role the NNPC played and how much it paid to the ministry, as only contributions from the CBN were reflected in the communication between the ministry and the president.
In the first letter dated September 17, 2010 and signed by the then minister, Adamu Waziri, the ministry of police affairs explained to President Jonathan how the police needed more equipment to prepare for the 2011 elections and secure financial institutions, and how the CBN was in a good stead to help out.
The equipment requested by the ministry were four Bell 412 armoured helicopters, 60 armoured patrol vans, 40,000 Motorola communication radios (walkie talkies), at a total cost of N19.66 billion.
“The procurement of these critical equipment would greatly enhance the surveillance of the NPF on the financial institutions in addition to augmenting the requirements of the NPF for the conduct of the 2011 general elections,” Mr. Waziri wrote.
The letter was received in the State House on September 21, 2010. President Jonathan later requested a meeting with the minister over the plan, and on October 6, the president approved the funds.
In a handwritten assent, Mr. Jonathan drew the attention of the CBN governor, Mr. Sanusi, to his approval.
The ministry of police affairs later contacted the BPP for a “certificate of no objection” for the contract, to allow it award the supply job to its preferred firms.
The bureau responded on October 12, 2010, acknowledging that while the ministry’s request was lawful, it needed to show formally the CBN’s capacity to provide N19.7 billion.
“There is need for the ministry to provide documentation to show that the CBN has actually provided funds for the procurement,” the bureau said.
The CBN’s board of directors met October 22, and approved that the funding request be made part of its 2010 and 2011 budgets. It would take several months for the contract to pull through.
On June 10, the ministry of police affairs officially awarded the contract for the supply of the helicopters to Messrs Pauliza Ltd at N4.9 billion. In the letter, the ministry advised the company to liaise with one of the CBN deputy governors, for payment and delivery of the items. That letter was signed by one Kyari Gubio on behalf of the minister.
The first contract, at N4.9 billion, was for two helicopters. For the four choppers listed by the ministry in its letter to the president, the total cost was N9.9 billion-an amount the BPP said was “rather high”.
Other contracts for security equipment awarded by the ministry were 20,000 units of Motorola communication radios to Messrs Hades Meridian group at N3.4 billion; another 20,000 units of the same radios to Messrs Reliance Telecommunication Limited at the same cost; 60 units of armoured patrol vans to Messrs Hadassa Investment Security Limited at N1.5 billion; and anti-riot equipment by Messrs Armcom Limited at N1.5 billion.
The purchases totalled N19.657 billion