Posted by News Express | 28 June 2016 | 3,824 times
Activists under the aegis of the Southeast Based Coalition of Human Rights Organizations (SBCHROs) this morning demanded the immediate sack and prosecution of Chief of Army Staff, Lt Gen Turkur Buratai, for alleged corruption. They further demanded that if President Muhammadu Buhari fails to do this, he must free all political crimes and corruption detainees in the country.
The demands are contained in a statement issued in Onitsha. It was signed by SBCHROs Leader Emeka Umeagbalasi, Head, Publicity, Comrade Aloysius Attah, and Head, Research & Strategy, Jerry Chukwuokoro, PhD.
SBCHROs comprises the International Society for Civil Liberties & the Rule of Law (Intersociety), Anambra State Branch of the Civil Liberties Organization (CLO), Center for Human Rights & Peace Advocacy (CHRPA), Human Rights Club (a project of LRRDC)(HRC), Forum for Justice, Equity & Defense of Human Rights (FJEDHR), Society Advocacy Watch Project (SPAW), Anambra Human Rights Forum (AHRF), Southeast Good Governance Forum (SGGF), International Solidarity for Peace & Human Rights Initiative (ITERSOLIDARITY) and Igbo Ekunie Initiative (pan Igbo rights advocacy group).
The coalition in the statement, a copy of which was made available to News Express, said it is “not surprised over the statement of Nigeria’s Minister of Defence concerning the criminal acquisition and ownership of multi-billion properties by serving Chief of Army Staff, Lt Gen Turkur Buratai. Some of the corrupt and criminal properties have been uncovered and traced to Dubai in the United Arab Emirates and North-central Nigeria by the authorities of the Sahara Reporters.”
Continuing, SBCHROs said: “Nigeria’s Defence Minister, Muhammad Mansur Dan-Ali, had last night, joined the Nigerian Army in defending the fraudulent and criminal acquisition and ownership of multi-billion properties by the serving Chief of Army Staff, Lt Gen Turkur Buratai (a.k.a. Buratai De Butcher). The properties, according to detailed, comprehensive, factual and grounded investigations conducted by the authorities of the Sahara Reporters, are located in Dubai (UAE) and North-central Nigeria (along Keffi-Abuja Expressway). They include a multi-billion huge industrial-scale farm, located on Abuja-Keffi Expressway in North-central Nigeria and two choice private dwelling estates in Dubai, UAE. The Farm is registered as “Turkur & Turkur Farm Limited” and comprises of “a huge construction site, featuring a tarred road, a zoo, a guesthouse, chalets, a restaurant, a cinema hall, a mini-stadium and other leisure facilities,”. A highly dependable source also told Sahara Reporters that “some of the equipment on the farm site belongs to the Nigerian Army”.
“The fraudulent Dubai properties are comprised of two multi-million naira private estates, corruptly acquired on January 13, 2013, July 24th and August 17th 2015. This is contained in the Sahara Reporters’ latest update contained in the link provided below. Lt Gen Turkur Buratai was appointed by President Muhammadu Buhari as Nigeria’s Chief of Army Staff on July 13th, 2015. While the authorities of the Buhari’s administration particularly the Army and Defence authorities are busy engaging in fruitless and watery defence of the obvious criminality of the COAS, the authorities of the Sahara Reporters have gone ahead to update its widely read and commendable report with additional information cited above. The following links contain Sahara Reporters’ original report and its updated segment:
(1) http://saharareporters.com/2016/06/24/revealed-buharis-chief-army-staff-general-buratai-wives-own-dubai-property. (2)http://saharareporters.com/2016/06/27/general-buratai-bought-second-dubai-property-days-after-appointment-chief-army-staff
“We invite all Nigerians and members of the international community to click on the links above and read and study the comprehensive reports. The Defence Minister had in his last night statement, described Nigerians demanding for thorough investigation and prosecution of the COAS as “disgruntled and unpatriotic elements” and further said that “the army chief was transparent about the properties as he declared them more than one to both the Nigerian Army and the Code of Conduct”. The Defence Minister’s statement is contained in the following link: http://www.thetrentonline.com/fg-defends-buratai-dubai-houses-blames/ .
Further to these watery and defenseless statements is the parasitic advocacy positions taken on the issue by image-launderer CSOs, hired by the COAS to clean up his messiest roles in butchering and massacring of over 900 unarmed, defenseless and nonviolent Nigerian citizens including over 700 Shiite Muslim faithful and over 200 pro Biafra agitators between 2nd December 2015 and 30th May 2016. The COAS had become panicky since then, particularly his possible arrest regionally and internationally over crimes against humanity; leading to recruitment of some compromised persons and their groups to launder his deadly damaged image. This they call: “military-civil relations”.
“We had just yesterday, 27th of June 2016, issued a strong worded statement alerting the world of sustained efforts by the Buhari administration to sweep the issue of COAS illicit wealth and criminal property acquisition and ownership under the carpet. Less than 24hours after the issuance of the informed statement, we were roundly vindicated following the Defense Minister’s cover-up statement under reference, in which he further accused “disgruntled and unpatriotic elements” of deliberately releasing the report to tarnish Buratai’s image so as to derail the counter-terrorism and counter-insurgency operations in the North-East.
“The following link contains our statement under reference: http://globalreportersnews.com/2016/06/before-dubai-criminal-properties-of-buratai-the-butcher-are-swept-under-the-carpet/. The statement can also be accessed in other media such as the Trent Online, the News Express Nigeria, the Nigerian Voice, the Elombah Reports, the Fact Reporters, the StreetReporters, the Chidiopara Reports, the Global ReportersVienna, the Republic Reports, the News247, the Global Watch Reports, the Igbere News Reports, the Nigerian Masterweb Reports, the InnosReports, the Odogwu Reports, the Nigerian LawyerReports, the Authority Newspaper and the Vanguard Newspaper, to mention but a few.
“Provided below with pictures and facts is key aspect of the updated segment of the report, issued after detailed and comprehensive investigation by the authorities of the Sahara Reporters: “General Buratai 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. On July 13, 2015, President Muhammadu Buhari appointed General Buratai as Chief of Army Staff. Our investigations show that, within 11 days of his appointment, the general was making arrangements for the purchase of a second property from the same company in Dubai. Our investigators obtained evidence that, between July 24 and August 17, 2015, General Buratai paid a total sum of N42.2 million into TFG Sigma 111’s account in Nigeria (Skye Bank 1770380452).
“Evidence exclusively obtained by SaharaReporters reveal that General 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 shows 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.
“Our sources within the Army disclosed that the lodgments came from Army funds stolen and diverted by General Buratai. They explained that the diverted monies were taken from funds budgeted for the feeding, medical care and payment of allowances of soldiers fighting the war against Islamist insurgents in Nigeria’s northeast zone.
“Our sources also stated that the funds for General Buratai’s first Dubai property came from a contract awarded for the supply of vehicles and motorcycles to the Army. They asserted that General Buratai had cornered the contract in his days as Director of Procurement at the Army Headquarters, using a front identified as Usman Gamawa. “The contract was awarded for the purchase of new vehicles, but Alhaji Gamawa's Baggash Investment Limited bought second-hand vehicles and motorcycles from Niger Republic for the use of soldiers,” said one source. He said the purchase of substandard vehicles exposed troops engaged counter-insurgency operations to heightened danger, made them vulnerable to attacks by Boko Haram insurgents, and reduced their effectiveness.
“Army sources disclosed that, on arrival in Nigeria, the vehicles and motorcycles supplied by General Buratai’s front, Mr. Gamawa, were taken for refurbishment at Mogadishu Cantonment under the supervision of one Sergeant Dandan Garba.
“Angered by the deplorable state of the vehicles and motorcycles, a group known as Concerned Soldiers and Officers From The Northeast petitioned President Muhammadu Buhari to demand an investigation into the financial malfeasance perpetrated by General Buratai. A member of the group told SaharaReporters that they want President Buhari to ask General Buratai to explain where he got money for his various assets, including the real estate in Dubai. He said the COAS also owns a huge industrial-scale farm, Tukur and Tukur Farm Limited, on the Abuja-Keffi Expressway. “The farm is currently a huge construction site, featuring a tarred road, a zoo, a guesthouse, chalets, a restaurant, a cinema hall, a mini-stadium and other leisure facilities,” said the source, adding that some of the equipment on the site belongs to the Army”.
“The lame duck and defenseless position taken by the Buhari administration on the high profile criminality under reference has further exposed its gross insincerity in its so called “fight against corruption” and extensively vindicated those who maintain till date that the Buhari administration is not only corruption friendly but also hides under “anti corruption” to persecute and humiliate its opponents. On account of such facts laden and strong accusations leveled against a serving military officer, what a reasonable and popular government should have done is to relieve the accused of his duties immediately and subject him and his accusers to further thorough and conclusive investigations and diligent prosecution so as to retain public trust and confidence as well as to proof to members of the international community and other serving public officials that there is no immunity for political corruption and abuse of office.
“By shamelessly informing Nigerians and members of the international community that the COAS, Lt Turkur Buratai, “was transparent in his acquisition and ownership of the corrupt properties, locally and internationally, having declared them more than one to army and Code of Conduct in his Assets Declaration Forms”; the Buhari administration is also telling Nigerians and members of the international community that once a public official loots the public funds by way of cash or acquisition and ownership of illicit properties locally or internationally or both and have them declared in his or her Assets Declaration Forms; he or she is immune from criminal investigation and prosecution over corruption; and that any Nigerian public official including a serving soldier can acquire as many illicit foreign and local properties or steal billions from public coffers as possible and go scot free, provided he or she includes them in his or her Assets Declaration Forms.
“If this is so, why then is Buhari administration arresting and detaining dozens of Nigerians unconstitutionally with many spending as much as over 90 days or three months in pretrial detentions without formal charge and trial? Why is Buhari administration threatening and intimidating judges over the bail proceedings of those processing their judicial bails after long and months of unconstitutional detentions?
“From our extensive investigations, Nigeria’s criminal justice codes contain over 22 anti corruption institutions and numerous provisions. One of such numerous provisions applicable in Lt Gen Turkur Buratai’s illicit properties’ case is Section 17 (1) of the Economic & Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) Establishment Act of 2004 (2002). It clearly provides as follows: A person who, without lawful authority
(a) engages in the acquisition, possession or use of property knowing at the time of its acquisition, possession or use that such property was derived from any offence referred to in this section, or
(b) engages in the management, organisation of financing of any of the offences under this Act; or
(c) engages in the conversion or transfer of property knowing that such property is derived from any offence under this Act; or
(d) engages in the concealment or disguise of the true nature, source, location, disposition, movement, rights with respect to or ownership of property knowing that such property is derive4 from any offence referred to in this section, commits an offence under this Act and is liable on conviction to the penalties provided in Subsection (2) of this section.
(2) The penalties for offences under subsection (I) of this section shall be imprisonment for a term not less than fifteen years and not exceeding twenty-five years.
Also, Section 12 (1) of the Independent Corrupt Practices & Other Related Offences (ICPC) Establishment Act of 2004 (2000) provides as follows: Any person who, being employed in the public service, knowingly acquires or holds, directly or indirectly, otherwise than as a member of a registered joint stock company consisting of more than twenty (20) persons, a private interest in any contract, agreement or investment emanating from or connected with the department or office in which he is employed or which is made on account of the public service, is guilty of an offence, and shall on conviction be liable to imprisonment for seven (7) years.
“Further, by military tradition, doctrine and convention, a serving military officer is forbidden from acquiring and owning properties locally and internationally while still serving. Lt Gen Tukur Buratai as a soldier and serving military officer in Nigeria has been under the payroll and upkeep of the Federal Republic of Nigeria since he was enlisted into the Nigerian Army on 3rd January 1981. All his NDA and post NDA academic and in-service training expenses are borne by the Federal Republic of Nigeria till date using tax payers and other public funds. His official leisure, shelter, clothing, accommodation, medical, feeding and family expenses are also borne by the Federal Republic of Nigeria.
“While on international peacekeeping duties, his office and personal upkeep are borne by the UN and the Federal Republic of Nigeria. On retirement, Lt Gen Turkur Buratai is also entitled to specified gratuities and other emoluments as a retiring public official. He is pensionable too. These explain why he has no excuse under the law and convention to engage in looting public funds, not to talk of acquiring and owning multi-billion house estates and industrial-size farm.
“We therefore seize this opportunity to commend and congratulate the authorities of Sahara Reporters for their excellent investigatory report, clad with pictures, dates and indisputable statistics. Their latest update is also commendable. With this reports of theirs, the Sahara Reporters may most likely re-launch itself successfully into detribalized popularity and readership acceptance among Nigerians of limitless tribe, religion, language and culture; if sustained.
“The online media owned by Nigerians are also congratulated exceptionally for providing effective checks on democratic excesses. They have also taken over the democratic checks and balances functions hitherto performed by traditional newspaper, radio and television media establishments in Nigeria, now hijacked and owned by corrupt serving and former public office holders. Exception to this, deserving our special commendation is the authorities of the Vanguard Newspaper. We Say: Keep the candle of light and freedom burning ceaselessly and remember: evil triumphed where good people slumbered!
“It is extremely important to remind the mass media their sacred roles as clearly spelt out by Section 22 of the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria 1999, which directs them as follows: “the Press, radio, television and other agencies of the mass media shall at all times be free to uphold the Fundamental Objectives contained in this Chapter and uphold the responsibility and accountability of the Government to the People”.
“It is on these notes that we firmly call on the Government of Gen Muhammadu Buhari to sack the COAS, Lt Gen Turkur Buratai and subject him to thorough and conclusive investigation for the purpose of possibly unearthing other loots and illicit properties in his name and ownership and making him to face the law so as to serve as a deterrent to others and retain public confidence and trust as per fight against corruption (if any). In the event the COAS continues to be shielded, defended and protected by the Buhari administration, then all those in detention over the accusations of “corruption” should be freed, apologised to and heavily compensated. To be freed too are those detained over false accusation of treason and treasonable felony. We will further take it to mean that the Buhari administration has lost moral uprightness and should therefore resign from office.”
•Photo shows Gen. Buratai doing pres-ups during a bonding session with troops engaged in the war against Boko Haram.
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