More facts have emerged on the ongoing court-martial of a brigadier-general in what insiders now call an “interesting drama”.
Lym Hassan, who is the coordinator of peace keeping at the ministry of defence, was secretly recorded allegedly threatening to “eliminate” President Muhammadu Buhari over a defence contract.
He was arraigned before the military court on October 30, 2017 and charged with two allegations: spreading rumours that Buhari was dead and demanding $600,000 bribe from a defence contractor.
TheCable had reported that Buhari approved a $1,464,750 contract on September 26, 2016 for the relocation and refurbishment of Level 2 Ministry Hospital under the United Nations Multidimensional Integrated Stabilisation Mission in Mali (MINUSMA) following a directive from the UN.
Tongues are wagging over the genuineness of another presidential approval for the same contract, this time for $1 million and dated November 9, 2016 — it is unusual for the president to approve one contract twice, and for different sums.
In February 2017, the contract was awarded to Opems Integrated Concepts Ltd for $1 million for a two-month execution period ending April 2017.
But the job was not done, with Nigeria failing to meet the August 2017 deadline for the relocation of the hospital.
The ministry of defence later issued a directive to serving military officers to go and execute the contract, which involved supply of medical equipment as well as dismantling and re-assembling the hospital at a new camp.
The bulk of the original contract sum had allegedly been shared, and Hassan was said to have still demanded $600,000 from Opems.
Unknown to Hassan, he was recorded while allegedly making the demand, sources told TheCable.
Asked by the contractor if he was not afraid of Buhari’s anti-corruption war, Hassan allegedly retorted: “If the president queries us, we will eliminate him.”
The contractor later requested for an additional (“variation”) payment of $500,000 from the ministry, although the terms of the contract had stated clearly: “Please note that the contract price is fixed and no request for variation will be entertained.”
An insider in the defence ministry told TheCable: “With the charge sheet now reading that Hassan was spreading rumours that the president was dead, the game has changed. The facts of the matter have been tailored to throw him under the bus.
“Hassan has become the scapegoat but the bulk of the contract money was shared across board. He carelessly talked himself into trouble and he will carry the can for all those who participated in the bazaar.”
The source said it is curious that the two offences for which Hassan is being court-martialled are totally unrelated.
“They said he was spreading rumour that the president was dead, and that he also demanded bribe from Opems. Which of the offences came first? If he was spreading rumour, why was he not arrested and court-martialled immediately? That was enough ground to arrest him. Did they wait for him to demand a bribe before finally arresting him? The answer is no,” the insider said, alleging that there is a serious cover-up going on at the ministry of defence.
Tukur Gusau, a colonel and spokesman of Mansur Dan-Ali, minister of defence, initially told TheCable that Hassan was being court-martially over a “different matter” and had nothing to do with the contract.
However, his statement has been contradicted by the fact that the charge sheet includes the controversial contract.
Officials at defence headquarters and ministry of defence told TheCable that they would want Buhari to set up a probe into the affair so that all who participated in the scandal will be brought to book — rather than just Hassan.
Gusau also said on Wednesday that there was no fraud in the award of the contract and that it went through “due process”.
The project has been completed and awaiting inspection by the ministry, Gusau also said in response to TheCable’s report on the affair.
But he was silent on several issues and other allegations in the report, namely:
What “due processes” led to the award of the contract to Opems Integrated Concepts Ltd, with office address at Garki market?
Was Opems the company that was approved by the president?
The sum of $1,464,750 was requested for by the ministry and approved by the president. Why was the contract awarded for $1,000,000?
Why were two presidential approvals for the same contract, namely PRES/178/MOD/77 on September 26, 2016 (for $1,464,750) and PRES/178/MOD/82 on November 9, 2016 (for $1,000,000)?
Opems was given “two months” to execute the contract with effect from February 2, 2017, but on in November 2017 — a clear nine months after — the ministry said the contract is now “ready for inspection”.
Since the UN gave a deadline of August 2017 and has asked Rwanda to provide the facility following Nigeria’s failure, will the ministry of defence still hand over the hospital to the UN?
Which company eventually started work in the Super Camp in Mali? The original contractor or servicing officers of the Nigerian military who acted under instruction from the minister of defence?
Who taped Hassan’s comments about the president and why? What were his exact comments? Will MOD make the tape available to the public?