Nigeria’s political elites hid behind military to steal billions of dollars – Report

Nigerian Army Headquarters
Nigerian Army Headquarters

A new report has highlighted how Nigeria’s political elites for years hid under the cover of the country’s military to steal billions of dollars that would have been channeled into improving the living conditions of the citizens.

Corrupt officials over the years exploited the excessive secrecy of the country’s defence budget to rip off the nation, says the report released Thursday in Abuja by Transparency International Defence And Security.

The 15-years-old war against Boko Haram insurgency has helped pushed up Nigeria’s defence budget and corresponding increase in corruption within the sector, the report said.

A former National Security Adviser, NSA, Sambo Dasuki, is currently standing trial for allegedly mismanaging funds meant for the procurement of weapons to prosecute the war against Boko Haram.

The report repeatedly mentioned Mr. Dasuki’s case as an example of how the country’s defence sector leaves room for exploitation.

The report also mentioned former President Goodluck Jonathan and the late military dictator, Sani Abacha, as some of the nation’s leaders who profited from the inherent weakness in the sector.

According to the report, the stealing is usually done through inflating of procurement contract values and creating of “phantom” defence contracts.

“Such contracts are used as a vehicle for money laundering: facilitated via weak or corrupted Nigerian banks, illicit financial flows are often hidden in property in the UK, United States, South Africa and Dubai,” the report says.

The stealing is done with the active connivance of the country’s military leaders.

“With oil prices at a record low, defence has provided new and lucrative opportunities for the country’s corrupt kleptocrats,” says the report.

“Former military chiefs have stolen as much as US $15 billion – a sum equivalent to half of Nigeria’s foreign currency reserves – through fraudulent arms procurement deals.”

The report, which was prepared in partnership with the Civil Society Legislative Advocacy Centre, CISLAC, is titled, Weaponising Transparency: Defence Procurement Reform As a Counterterrorism Strategy in Nigeria.

Corruption in the defence sector, according to the report, is a major threat to Nigeria’s internal security and political stability.

“Largely unaddressed, it has weakened Nigerian counterterrorism capacity whilst strengthening Boko Haram,” it said.

The report, though acknowledged President Muhammadu Buhari administration’s effort to tackle corruption in the country’s defence sector.

But it warned that, “Only a holistic reform agenda can deliver the deep, systemic changes and improvements in transparency and accountability needed to prevent the next US $15 billion quietly leaving Nigeria through the back door”.

“Since coming to power in May 2015, President Buhari has taken some bold action in tackling defence sector corruption. Central to his approach have been two ad hoc, temporary audit committees: one investigating spending by the Office of the National Security Adviser and one investigating defence arms and equipment procurement.

“Taking on the defence establishment was a significant move: the evidence uncovered by these probes revealed that several of the country’s former military chiefs, using dozens of companies, together stole as much as US $15 billion.

“President Buhari’s anti-corruption drive is a rare example of senior Nigerian defence and security officials being exposed to criminal investigation. By signalling that military impunity is not without limit, it is undoubtedly a positive step forward,” it said.

State governors in Nigeria are also known to have used the secretive “security votes” as an avenue to steal public funds, the report said.

The report recommends a unified anti-corruption strategy for the defence sector, the extension of public access to defence and security information, and the monitoring of confidential procurements as some of the ways of tackling the problem.

Other recommendations include the sharpening of international focus on fighting corruption in Nigeria, plucking off money laundering loopholes in banks, the extension of whistle-blower protection to cover the defence sector, and regulation of secretive security votes.

“Declassifying how the security vote funds have been spent, after a two-year information embargo, could also enable citizen oversight,” the report said.

Katherine Dixon, Director Transparency International Defence and Security, called for a quick action against corruption in the Nigeria’s defence sector.

“Corruption in Nigeria is not just a problem for Nigerians, but a concern for all of those looking to tackle violent extremism around the world.

“Entering into blind defence deals that ignore the rampant corruption in Nigeria’s defence sector means international partners could inadvertently be giving rise to Boko Haram. Likewise, the doors to allow corrupt officials to launder their ill-gotten gains out of Nigeria should be slammed shut, through the active denial of visas and other domestic legislation that targets corrupt money.

“With Buhari’s first term soon to end, the international community may soon find itself without a Presidential ally in this fight – now is the time to act,” Ms. Dixon said.


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  • Iyanda

    “With Buhari’s first term soon to end, the international community may soon find itself without a Presidential ally in this fight – now is the time to act,” Ms. Dixon said.
    Buhari would have written his name in Gold after leaving office as one leader who did not steal from the Nation’s coffers. It is left to us to decide who succeeds him.

    • Klarity

      @disqus_mJYO0u1ZIL:disqus ,

      Is Muhamadu Buhari a honest public official, really?

      BUHARI is not my own definition of a honest person. Stealing for others is as much a theft
      as living above one’s means as a retired military officer on salary and pension throughout.
      Buhari said he paid school fees for three or four children in pound sterling in England and
      without taking a loan owns a house in Abuja and three other houses in northern states,
      in addition to multi-million shares held in several oil and manufacturing companies,
      but he was clever by half to hide away the total value of those assets in his bogus
      declaration of worth to the general public. Had he totaled those assets and
      given a gross figure, Nigerians will burst into tears for hailing a tin god.

      Within 60 days of taking office as president on 29th May 2015,
      Muhamadu Buhari wangled one billion Naira from the Central Bank and stuffed it into the pocket
      of his crony – Brigadier Buba Marwa – without any executive council approval, but solely as
      Buhari’s one-man diktat over the cash assets of Nigeria; with a whisper and with Buhari’s
      forefinger firmly on his lips, signalling that secrets be kept secret.

      That first heinous decision in office burnt the borrowed robes of ‘integrity’ which
      few Nigeria’s un-thinking journalists had falsely dressed up Muhamadu Buhari in.
      That’s surely not the act of the apostles, that’s not the portraiture of a honest man
      of integrity – that’s rather the illustration of a reflexively corrupt president for sure.
      That’s why the Senate has said it will probe cash withdrawals by President Buhari
      from July to September 2015 – without promising to start with the simplest probe
      of whether Muhamadu Buhari sat for Wasc exam in 1961 and got a certificate.

    • W. Philips



      • Broadway2

        How many children do Buhari has schooling in England?

      • Iyanda

        There are reports that his children were sponsored by friends and relations and this is not impossible. Based on the hatred the political class has for the man, they would have released information about schooling of his children if he was the one who sponsored them.

        • Gary

          C’mon. Buhari may not have brazenly stolen money like his peers but has greatly benefited from his positions and associated patronage in government.
          He was rehabilitated by the muderous regime of Sani Abacha who restored all his benefits and gave him the Chairmanship of the cash-cow Petroleum Trust Fund. Under Buhari’s watch, his now-deceased son inlaw looted the PTF. Enough to fund the education of a boatload of kids in England.

          We all know how the system works in Nigeria.

        • MilitaryPolice01

          There are reports that his children were sponsored by friends and relations and this is not impossible.
          Why are you talking like this for goodness sake. Why ?

          • Julius

            Remember IBB said he had no money but his mansion was a gift from all of his friends !

          • MilitaryPolice01

            Which we know is a lie my brother, so also the absolute bunkum that Buhari’s kids are trained by outsiders. Absolute rubbish

          • Julius

            I know but I think Buhari should have the funds to send his children to school overseas. He has been in many of the high positions in the country from right after the civil war.I assume he has been getting paid since. Bro, I don’t know.

        • Sgt Soros

          I am NOT surprised that friends and relations are sponsoring his children’s schooling in England, after all friends helped pay his rent at his residence in Abuja just before he became President. Please take note of Buhari’s warning to everyone on the very day he was inaugurated: “I am beholden to no one”.

      • Spyman29

        Since you claim that you live in London, kindly investigate and let us know how many of PMB children are schooling in London

        • oyoko

          does it matter where one send his children to school, everyone want the best for his children. if you are not thinking along that line, then you are shortchanging your children.

        • FreeNigeria

          Don’t we have schools in Nigeria?

          • Julius

            We used to !

  • Uzoma John

    Please tell them. Tomorrow the no-do-gooders will wake and accuse PMB of all their economic woes. They can see how Jonathan and his cowboys brought Nigeria to her knees financially/economically. The reason they are all fighting tooth and nail to discredit this bold fight against stealing of public funds.

    • Emeka

      My broda if I tell you I never tire for the kyn moni my ear dey hear say dem thief, I lie! Goodluck Jonathan and his cohorts no do well o…

  • Toyee

    We assume too much and claim to know everything under the sun.
    Have you found out how much is the pension of a General in Nigeria?
    Same goes for ex-head of state.
    This man lives austere life and you think he cannot sustain that without looting?
    You even said that Abacha settled all his entitlement, are you saying what IBB did to him after dethroning him was in order?
    You also mentioned that his late in-law wrecked havoc on PTF,did he passed the loots which you alleged without evidence to Buhari?
    Pls when you talk in public, think about the discerning minds that will listen or read. Otherwise you get yourself ridiculed?

  • Tommy Soto

    “Such contracts are used as a vehicle for money laundering: facilitated via weak or corrupted Nigerian banks, illicit financial flows are often hidden in property in the UK, United States, South Africa and Dubai,” the report says.

    Katherine Dixon, Director Transparency International Defence and Security, called for a quick action against corruption in the Nigeria’s defence sector.”

    Madame Director Katherine should call for transparency and quick action on UK banks in the City of London that aid and abet the transferring and hiding of Nigerian funds. The kleptomaniacs still have the backing and support of the present day 2017 colonial masters. They say many in the UK Foreign Office and MI-6 are trained at Cambridge.

    Circa 2015


    Transparency International UK is delighted to announce that Katherine Dixon will be joining the team as Programme Director of the global Defence and Security Programme this spring.

    Dixon was formerly the Private Secretary to the UK Foreign Secretary. She has a background in counter proliferation and nuclear threat reduction. As the head of State Programmes team in the Foreign and Commonwealth Office Counter Proliferation Department, she designed strategies to prevent proliferation and illegal arms sales. Prior to that, she spent four years as the British Consul in Shanghai, and two years as a political analyst in the Ministry of Defence.

    “The abuse of power in the defence and security sectors is a critical threat to global peace and stability,” Dixon said. “Transparency International’s Defence and Security Programme has played a tremendous role in bringing together governments, defence companies and civil society to tackle corruption and build strong, transparent state institutions. I am delighted to be joining them.”

    She will be taking over the post from Mark Pyman, who has led it for the past ten years.

    TI-UK Executive Director Robert Barrington said “Katherine’s background in foreign affairs and global security is a great fit for our Defence & Security team. After a decade of successful engagement in this most sensitive of areas, we look forward to the skills and experience she will bring to the role.”

    Dixon has a degree from Cambridge, a Masters in Chinese Studies from SOAS, speaks fluent Mandarin and holds an MBE.

    She will join TI-UK on 1 March, and take over as Programme Director on 30 April.”

  • The Optimist

    kleptocrats indeed. The NIA example shows how they use military and paramilitary bodies to steal (as their bsba GEJ wants it called).

  • Frank Bassey

    If P/T’s story was the only version available, Nigerian’s would have been massively misinformed. The report was hard on PMB’s administration. The massive looting in the military did not stop after GEJ. The report said it is as massive as ever.

    • Uzoma John

      Wrong as ever. The report said this is the only Govt that has the balls to probe the military and bring top erring officers to book. Stop distorting facts.

  • May30th1967

    WHEN WAS THE LAST TIME AN IGBO WAS NIGERIA’S MILITARY CHIEF? 1966, with a few months of Ihejirika before the Boss of Nigeria, the Cabal forced him out.
    Who have stolen Nigeria into the 2nd century BC since 1967? HAUSA/FULANI/YORUBA.