The Independent Corrupt Practices and Other Related Offences Commission (ICPC) has confirmed the recovery of cash, vehicles and other items worth billions of Naira from a military contractor fronting for former Chief of Army Staff, Tukur Buratai in Abuja.
Buratai, a retired Lieutenant General was the COAS between 2015 and 2021.
Azuka Ogugua, the spokesperson for the commission, disclosed the arrest in a statement on Friday.
Ogagua identified the suspect as the Managing Director of K Salam Construction Company Nigeria Limited, Mr. Kabiru Sallau.
SaharaReporters had reported how ICPC officials last Thursday invaded a property in Abuja, recovering cash, vehicles and wrist watches worth billions of naira from a man who said they belonged to Buratai.
Sources said the anti-graft agency was tipped off about the cash haul by the Nigerian Financial Intelligence Unit (NFIU) during a probe of Kabiru.
Subsequently, the NFIU transferred the matter to ICPC, which deployed its operatives to invade the property in Wuse 2 of the Federal Capital Territory (FCT), Abuja.
SaharaReporters gathered that the huge cash was part of the billions of naira earmarked for the purchase of arms and ammunition by the Muhammadu Buhari-led government.
“Last week Thursday, ICPC officials stormed a house in Wuse area of Abuja, beside National Open University and arrested a man, Kabiru Salisu (Sallau) after they saw N850 million cash in the house,” a source had told SaharaReporters on Thursday.
“He claimed the money belonged to Tukur Buratai who was in Cotonou at that time.
“Officials of the ICPC took him to an office where another N1 billion in cash was also discovered. Also, bulletproof cars, BMW, G-Wagon worth N450m were recovered.”
Reacting in a statement on Friday, Ogugua said acting on intelligence, the commission raided the residence in Wuse 2, Abuja, where the expensive items were found.
The statement read, “The Commission wishes to state that ICPC operatives raided a property in Wuse 2 of the Federal Capital Territory (FCT), Abuja, on Thursday, 16th June, 2022 between 5:00pm and 12:00am in suspicion of money laundering.
“Facts available for the time being indicates that the property is owned by owner of K Salam Construction Company, a military contractor.
“The Commission 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 wrist watches, including three Rolexes, and some property documents.
“The Commission arrested the Managing Director of K Salam Construction Company Nigeria Limited, Mr. Kabiru Sallau and investigation is ongoing. The Commission is yet to conclude its investigation and prefers not to preempt its outcome and also avoid the frenzy of a media trial.”
A source had earlier said the commission was under pressure to reduce the amount found in the ex-army chief’s house to as low as N30 million.
In March 2021, Nigeria’s 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 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.”
Sahara Reporters had 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 in 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 President 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 on the Skye Bank teller is 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 he made a lot of money from his snake farm along Keffi-Abuja Highway in Nasarawa, just 50 kilometres from the nation’s capital.