The Code of Conduct Bureau has pledged to invite Nigeria’s Army Chief, Tukur Buratai, for questioning as it verifies his asset declaration to determine whether or not he is culpable of false asset declaration.
Mr. Buratai, a lieutenant general, was enmeshed in asset declaration scandal after evidence emerged that he owned property in Dubai.
The Nigerian Army in June admitted that Mr. Buratai owned property in Dubai but said they were legal and he declared them in his asset declaration form.
“It is a fact that the Buratai family have two properties in Dubai that were paid for instalmentally through personal savings three years ago,” the army spokesperson Sani Usman said. “This, along with other personal asset have consistently been declared by General Buratai in his Asset Declaration Form as Commander Multinational Joint Task Force Commander and as Chief of Army Staff”.
Dissatisfied with the army’s response, as well as concerned with more reports suggesting the army chief violated Nigerian laws in acquiring the property, a civic group asked the Code of Conduct Bureau, CCB, to investigate and prosecute Mr. Buratai for false asset declaration.
“Evidence of payments (payment tellers of Skye bank) made on behalf of General Buratai and published by Sahara Reporters shows that one of the properties was purchased after the assumption of office by General Buratai as Chief of Army Staff. The payment was effected and contract consummated between July 24 and August 17, 2016,” the Civil Society Network against Corruption, CSNAC, wrote in its petition to the CCB.
“It would be important for your Bureau to investigate the source of this acquisition and the differences between the General’s most recent asset declaration and the penultimate one,” CSNAC’s head, Olanrewaju Suraju, wrote while calling for Mr. Buratai’s prosecution.
In its response to the civic group, the CCB gave its reasons for not investigating Mr. Buratai’s asset declaration early enough.
“Please be informed that General Buratai’s asset would have been verified and that he was equally communicated on this,” Ijeanuli Arinze responded on behalf of the CCB chairman in an August 5letter.
The bureau said the verification could not continue because Mr. Buratai “was coordinating the fight against Boko Haram in the North East as at that particular period…”
“Now that the war on insurgency has been considerably contained, the military officers that were earlier scheduled, including General Buratai himself, would, shortly, be invited for the exercise,” it said.
It is not clear if the Army chief has finally been invited to clear himself as the army general is still leading the battle against Boko Haram.
Mr. Buratai was in Damboa, Borno State on Sunday where he visited the 81 battalion of the Nigerian Army and charged them to finish off the Boko Haram insurgents.
The Boko Haram insurgency in Northern Nigeria has led to the death of over 20,000 people and displacement of millions of others.
Should the CCB find Mr. Buratai culpable of false asset declaration, it could prosecute him before the Code of Conduct Tribunal.