How Ex-Army Chief Buratai made Nigerian Army property firm spend thousands of dollars to fund wives’ trips, prayers by islamic cleric to determine loyal officers

How Ex-Army Chief Buratai made Nigerian Army property firm spend thousands of dollars to fund wives’ trips, prayers by islamic cleric to determine loyal officers

SAHARA REPORTERS

Maj. Gen, U. M. Mohammed, who was a close ally of former Chief of Army Staff, Lt. Gen. Tukur Buratai (retd.) narrated at his court-martial how he was forced to sign a cheque of N1 billion while being secretly detained and tried by the Nigerian Army.

Last Friday, SaharaReporters reported that the Nigerian Army was secretly detaining Mohammed after exposing how he laundered funds for Buratai.

SaharaReporters reported that Maj. Gen. Mohammed, until his arrest and secret detention in the past year, was in charge of the Nigerian Army Property Limited (NAPL).

Sources told SaharaReporters that Mohammed was being punished on behalf of Buratai with whom he was involved in illegalities and shady dealings, carried out on the orders of the former Army chief while he was in office.

As the officer in charge of NAPL, Mohammed controlled army properties across the country.

SaharaReporters had reported that while being court-martialled, Mohammed, who had been arrested and held in secret detention since January 2022, confessed that Buratai asked him to pay $730,000 to obtain Saudi Arabia citizenship for him (Buratai) in order to evade justice for the atrocities committed by the army while he was the chief of staff.

Meanwhile, the court-martial has been going on secretly since September 2022.

Checks by SaharaReporters revealed that he was initially arrested for “terrorism financing” to cover up for the real reason behind his ordeal.

Sources further told SaharaReporters that Mohammed told the special court that on the orders of Buratai, he also released funds for trips for the wives of the former Army chief and some military activities like the movement of people when Buhari opened the Nigerian Army University in Biu, Borno State.

It was learnt that Buratai also instructed Mohammed to pay huge sums of money to some Muslim clerics “praying for Buratai’s administration” as Chief of Army Staff at the time.

One of the sources said, “For instance, the last one he gave evidence and this is in evidence in court that about $700,000 was used. He (Buratai) instructed him to process Saudi Arabia residence permit for him.

“And he was also told to release money to fund the trips of his wives and also fund some military activities like the movement of people when Buhari opened some things in Biu – the Army University and some military activities. That was where he was directing that funds should be released.

“He also gave evidence of how several thousands of dollars he was ordered to release to some mallams (Islamic clerics) whom he said were praying for his administration. They were the ones that will censor any activities that he was going to undertake. “For instance, the appointment of some persons or posting of some military officers; those ones whose names will be submitted to the mallams to determine in the spirit whether they would be loyal or not. So those things were funded in hundreds of thousands of dollars, he gave this in evidence.

“And then besides several international trips, he would ask the man to give out money. This involved several Generals, even some who were sitting as members of the panel. They also benefited from some of the foreign trips. They were paid hundreds of thousands in estacodes.”

On why Mohammed didn’t say no to certain things as the MD of NAPL, one of the sources said, “If only you know how the military operates; that would amount to insubordination.

“If your boss asks you to do something and then you say no, that is insubordination and that was the reason why he used NAPL to fund personal and official activities in the military.”

Another source said, “In one, Mohammed told us how over N26 million was released to build piggery. What they were doing was directing him to release money. Mind you, they would call him while he was still serving as the MD of NAPL and a military officer.

“You know, in the military, orders are given orally and you do not disobey it. He (Buratai) would call him and ask him to release a certain amount of money. So that is how he was giving instructions and money was being released.”

Last Friday, SaharaReporters reported that Mohammed had spent one week in the intensive care unit of the NAOWA clinic in Abuja.

According to sources, the Army authorities had restricted public access and any form of visitation to the general.

It was learnt that Mohammed who hails from Niger state is senior to the current Chief of Army Staff, Lt. Gen. Faruk Yahaya, having been part of 36 Regular Course of the Nigerian Army.

Sources revealed that normally General Mohammed ought to have retired two years ago, adding that because of the intention of the army authorities to punish him, “the army authorities refused to retire him, instead kept him in detention.”

“He was arrested in January 2022 and detained at the Nigerian Army military police guardroom in Abuja.”

Sources also told SaharaReporters that Mohammed had agreed to expose Buratai when the late Lt. Gen. Ibrahim Attahiru became the Chief of Army Staff.

Unfortunately, before he could “spill the beans, Attahiru died under tragic circumstances in a plane crash in Kaduna,” one of the sources said. “The plane was a twin-engine aircraft which was not suitable for his rank.”

But while being court-martialled, one of the sources said Mohammed had “already revealed to the army that since 2019, Buratai has used his position to buy properties for politicians including the First Lady, Aisha Buhari and also used the NAPL to fund President Muhammadu Buhari’s 2019 presidential campaign”.

“Last week at the Command Guest House inside Abacha Barrack where the trial was taking place, General Mohammed asked to be released so that he can provide earthshaking evidence about Buratai’s unprecedented corruption, including how he was forced to build a big bakery in Biu where he was last posted before his arrest,” a source said.

Director, Army Public Relations, Brigadier General Onyema Nwachukwu, did not answer calls from SaharaReporters nor reply to the text message sent to him to seek an update or clarification over the detention of Maj. Gen. Mohammed. 

This Article Originally Appeared in Sahara Reporters

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