CSOs Carpets Buhari Over Commissioning of Alleged Substandard Police Equipment

Kenechukwu Ofomah

Kenechukwu Ofomah

A coalition of Civil Society Organizations under the aegis of CSO-PTF Support and Oversight Group has berated President Muhammadu Buhari for commissioning alleged substandard police equipment allegedly fraudulently purchased by the Nigeria Police Trust Fund (NPTF) Management.

The group believes the development which is in violation of the NPTF Establishment Act, is prejudicial to the ongoing investigation by the ICPC and subversive to the fight against corruption.

The coalition which includes over 200 civil society organisations and activists spread across Nigeria, committed to promoting transparency and accountability in the implementation of the NPTF Act, on Thursday, said it received with serious concern the news of President Muhammadu Buhari’s commissioning on the 13th of January 2022, of 200 Buffalo Toyota operational vehicles and other equipment purchased by the Police Trust Fund for the Nigeria Police Force through alleged contract fraud.

In a statement on Thursday, signed by over 40 members, the group said its concern arises from the fact, not only that the said equipment were fraudulently purchased in utter violation of the PTF Act, but also that the equipment are currently subject of an ongoing investigation by the Independent Corrupt Practices & Other Related Offences Commission (ICPC), based on a petition alleging abuse of due process, corruption and mismanagement of funds by the PTF Management.

The coalition wondered why such could happen, when fighting corruption is one of President Buhari’s signature commitments and the mantra on which he campaigned to be elected President.

“Several news media reported this scandal.

“According to the Vanguard Newspapers report of September 20, 2021, captioned “N11bn police equipment contract fraud: How infighting within NPTF management led to ICPC’s petition, investigation over N11 billion substandard equipment were fraudulently purchased for the Nigeria Police by the management of the PTF.

“The report further revealed that ‘sharing formula of proceeds from the fraudulent purchase of substandard equipment led to the petition’.

“The Chairman of the PTF Board of Trustees former IGP Abba Suleiman, was reported to have testified before ICPC investigators as a witness, during which he made startling revelations of fraud, abuse of due process and mismanagement of the PTF funds by the management.

“Management staff of the NPTF have also been invited by ICPC over the matter.

“It was further alleged that a former Deputy Governor who is a serving Senator eyeing 2023, and a Minister were fingered in the substandard equipment purchase.

“It was, for instance, alleged that the bulletproof vests that ought to possess double-sided shields were found to only possess shield on one side.

“It was further alleged that the helmets were too small and the Toyota Buffalo vehicles procured were largely substandard,” the group said.

They maintained that it was wrong of the President to have gone ahead to commission the equipment, despite the alleged scandal associated with its procurement, which allegedly breached due process and despite the ongoing investigation by the ICPC over the petition alleging fraud and corruption.

“The chairman of the board is quoted to have denied knowledge of the procurement process and that the management of the NPTF has been frustrating him from resuming work with his staff at the office provided by the Nigeria Police Force.

“Is it that the President is unaware of these facts despite being widely reported in the media or is it that someone or a group of people are misleading the President?

“We note that President Buhari was represented at the commissioning by the Minister of Police Affairs who was quoted to have described the provision of the equipment as part of the ongoing reformation of the Nigeria Police Force.

“How can the commissioning of equipment that are alleged to be substandard and capable of exposing police personnel to grave danger if faced with criminals, be part of any reformation?

“The Minister, speaking for President Buhari also commended the Board of Trustees, Management and Staff of the NPTF “for meticulously and meritoriously completing the project.”

“We dare to ask: what can be meticulous and meritorious about an alleged fraudulent act that breaches the laws of the country?

“The IGP, Usman Baba in his remark during the commissioning was quoted to have said that ‘the items provided for the force are largely in line with the requisite operational specification, tested and found to be standard that would enhance effective and efficient policing’.

“Again, we dare to ask: on what did the IGP base this assessment?

“We are not unaware that the ICPC has concluded or made public the outcome of its investigation into allegations that the equipment were substandard and unsuitable, in fact dangerous, for use by the police.

“Again the IGP’s remark is preemptive of and prejudicial to the ongoing ICPC investigation.

“Was the IGP under pressure or in cahoots with those accused of mismanagement of police trust fund?” it queried.

The group called on the ICPC to expedite action, conclude its investigation into the serious allegations of fraud and mismanagement of PTF funds and make its findings public urging that those found to be involved in the allegations should be brought to account.

It said the ICPC owes Nigerians the legal, moral and sacred duty of ensuring that nobody or group of individuals or groups, no matter how powerful, should be allowed to interfere with or derail the investigation

The group said it will continue to monitor and regularly update Nigerians on the progress of this investigation and generally on the operations of the PTF to ensure transparency and accountability in the management of the PTF and to ensure that the purpose of establishing the fund- which is to fill the funding gap for the Nigeria Police with a view to enhancing their operational capabilities to effectively discharge their functions of securing and protecting Nigerians from crimes and insecurity is achieved.

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Professor Jideofor Adibe


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