August 09, 2023

Nigerian Ex-Army Chief Buratai Secures Court Order Through Proxy To Recover Funds, Posh Vehicles, Other Properties Seized By Anti-Corruption Body, ICPC.

In June 2022, SaharaReporters reported how the ICPC recovered funds (including foreign currencies) from a house registered to someone fronting for Buratai, a military contractor and Managing Director of K Salam Construction Company Nigeria Limited, Mr Kabiru Sallau. A former Chief of Army Staff, Lt Gen Tukur Buratai (retd.) has secured a court order through his proxy to recover funds and other items seized from him by the Independent Corrupt Practices and Other Related Offences Commission (ICPC). In June 2022, SaharaReporters reported how the ICPC recovered funds (including foreign currencies) from a house registered to someone fronting for Buratai, a military contractor and Managing Director of K Salam Construction Company Nigeria Limited, Mr Kabiru Sallau. The suit numbered FHC/ABJ/CS/165/2023 was filed by Buratai’s proxy, Sallau at the Federal High Court, Abuja. A document obtained by SaharaReporters shows the ICPC received the court order on July 18, 2023. SaharaReporters had reported that N2.1 billion was recovered by the ICPC, which was later taken to the Central Bank of Nigeria.
SaharaReporters had also reported that the commission was under pressure not to disclose the full amount recovered to the public. The initial plan was to reduce the figure to as low as N30 million. But the commission, in a statement, later said it recovered money and other items "from the property viz. N175,706,500; $220,965; G-Wagon; 2022 editions of BMW and Mercedes Benz cars; customized mobile phones; several designer wristwatches, including three Rolexes, and some property documents". A source on Tuesday told SaharaReporters that “Buratai has got a court order through his proxy to get seized properties returned to him from ICPC”. “The Mercedes Benz 2022 recovered from him. The Commission placed a lien on N1.9 billion and recovered 220 USD plus N174 million when the house was searched. “BMW also recovered from him during the execution of a search warrant. Bulletproof G Wagon voice customized that was recovered from him was valued at N150 million,” the source added.
SaharaReporters had gathered that the huge cash was part of the billions of naira earmarked for the purchase of arms and ammunition by the then-Muhammadu Buhari-led government. Buratai, a retired Lieutenant General was the COAS between 2015 and 2021. Despite denials by his lawyer and other faceless individuals, the army general later admitted to a newspaper that the property was his and no search warrant was obtained before it was raided. A source later told SaharaReporters that the ICPC would approach a court to seek the forfeiture of the monies, house, posh vehicles, jewellery and other things recovered from the building. “N2.1 billion was recovered and it has been taken to the CBN. ICPC is set to apply for forfeiture of the money, vehicles and the house where these items and monies were found. But the commission is still under immense pressure,” the source had said.
'Missing' Arms Funds
In March 2021, the then-National Security Adviser (NSA), Babagana Monguno revealed that funds running into billions of naira meant for the procurement of arms and ammunition under the past service chiefs were unaccounted for. His revelation came a few months after then-President Buhari replaced Buratai and other service chiefs. Others were former Chief of Defence Staff, Gabriel Olonishakin; Chief of Air Staff, Abubakar Sadique and Chief of Naval Staff, Ibok Ibas. According to Monguno, neither the money nor the arms were on the ground upon the resumption of the new service chiefs. “Now that he (President Buhari) has brought new people (service chiefs), hopefully, they will devise some ways. I’m not saying the former service chiefs diverted the money, but the money is missing. We don’t know how, and nobody knows for now,” he had said.
“The President will surely probe this matter. As we speak, the Nigerian Governors’ Forum too is also wondering where all the money went. I can assure you the President takes issues of this nature seriously. “The fact is that preliminary investigation showed the funds are missing and the equipment is nowhere to be found. “When the new service chiefs assumed office, they also said they did see anything on the ground.”
Buratai's History Of Graft
SaharaReporters in a series of publications in 2016 exposed how Buratai procured expensive assets in Dubai, the United Arab Emirates, between 2013 and 2015, from proceeds of crime. He and his two wives 2013 paid the sum of 1,498,534.00 AED (N120 million/$419,000) for the first property, Project TFG Marina Hotel Unit 2711. Sale documents indicated that the first property was handed over to the Buratais on January 13, 2013. Eleven days after he was appointed by Buhari, the retired Army General made arrangements for the purchase of a second property from the same company in Dubai. Between July 24 and August 17, 2015, he paid a total sum of N42.2 million into TFG Sigma 111’s account in Nigeria (Skye Bank 1770380452).
Evidence exclusively obtained by SaharaReporters revealed that Buratai made N10 million payments on July 24 and August 7 respectively. Three days later, another N10 million was paid into the real estate firm’s account. The phone number listed on the Skye Bank teller was 08033349740. SaharaReporters' investigations showed that it belonged to a Nigerian Army Major, Emmanuel G. Adegbola of the Nigerian Army Finance Corps (N/10808). On August 17, 2015, the Chief of Army Staff paid the sum of N3,270,000 into the account. Buratai, who owned up to purchasing the two properties in Dubai, however, claimed that he amassed his wealth through “personal savings” and not ill-gotten gains. He added that he made a lot of money from his snake farm along Keffi-Abuja Highway in Nasarawa, just 50 kilometres from the nation’s capital.

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