The Economic and Financial Crimes Commission has detained the immediate past Chief of Defence Staff, Air Chief Marshal Alex Badeh (retd.), in connection with his alleged role in the $2.1bn arms purchase scam.
Badeh, who was clad in a brown kaftan and a black cap, arrived at the EFCC office around 10am on Monday.
The former defence chief had visited the commission on Thursday last week but was asked to report to the agency’s office on Monday.
Badeh, who was accompanied by three unidentified men, was escorted into the Idiagbon House headquarters of the EFCC by armed operatives.
He was subsequently interrogated by detectives for several hours.
As of 10pm, Badeh was still in the custody of the anti-graft agency.
An EFCC operative, who confided in The PUNCH, said, “Badeh arrived at our office at 10am and as of 10pm, he is still with us.”
It was gathered that the commission had assembled two teams of EFCC operatives, who began the interrogation of the former chief of defence staff at about 10.30am on Monday.
It was learnt that he was asked to account for contracts awarded by the Nigeria Air Force when he was the chief of defence staff.
According to reports, contracts totalling $930,500,690.00 were by the military awarded under the leadership of Badeh.
The money is said to be part of the $2.1bn, which was under the control of the Office of the National Security Adviser, then under the headship of Col. Sambo Dasuki (retd).
Badeh is also said to be answering questions on the non-specification of procurement costs, absence of contract agreements, award of contracts beyond authorised thresholds, transfer of public funds for unidentified purposes and general non-adherence with provisions of the Public Procurement Act.
Meanwhile, the EFCC has obtained repeated holding charge to keep a former Chief of Air Staff, Air Marshal Adesola Amosu (retd.), and some senior officers of the NAF.
A top operative of the EFCC said on Monday that the legal department of the commission had approached the court to obtain an extension of the holding charge for Amosu and other military officers in its custody.
It was learnt that the commission took the action to avoid being accused of violating the law that stipulates that suspects should not be detained for more than 48 hours.
The PUNCH had, on Wednesday, exclusively reported that Amosu refused to sign an undertaking that he would return some money or contract sums traced to him.
According to the report, Amosu is being interrogated in connection with 10 contracts awarded by the Nigeria Air Force.
The EFCC has been holding the former chief of air staff for two weeks after he was arrested in relation to the ongoing probe into arms procured under the Jonathan administration.
Amosu and some of the top personnel of the Air Force were picked up on January 28, 2016, by the EFCC to answer questions in connection with the arms probe.
It was further gathered that the commission released some of the officers, who were grilled in connection with the ongoing probe, on Friday.
It was learnt that the commission was still holding the former Air Chief because the investigation had not been concluded.
It was gathered that the EFCC operatives had been dispatched to several formations of the NAF in response to statements made by those being probed.
The source added that the men of the task force, involved in the ongoing probe, moved Amosu from Abuja to Lagos last week as part of the efforts to confirm some of the claims he made.
Several officers are said to be in detention alongside Amosu for making statements which linked their activities to Badeh.
The source added, “The commission has been making efforts to keep the former Chief of Air Staff, Air Marshal Adesola Amosu, and some of the senior officers being interrogated in connection with the arms issue.
“The legal department has been going to court to seek the extension of the holding charge against Amosu and others, who have been in detention since January 28, 2016. In fact, the department has obtained a holding charge against the former chief of air staff.
“You know that there is this provision in law that citizens should not be detained for longer than 48 hours without a holding charge. The commission does not want to run foul of that.
“However, some of the officers were released on Friday. The ones that are being detained have made statements linking them to Badeh’s interrogation.
“They are asked to wait because they have made statements that may need clarification when Badeh’s interrogation takes off.’’
The commission is believed to have several military personnel and civilians in detention in connection with the ongoing probe.
The source said some of the detainees had spent over a month while others had spent between two and three weeks in the detention facility of the anti-corruption agency.
Among those detained are the military assistant to the late Gen. Owoye Azazi; Dasuki, and an Austrian businessman, Wolf Gang Reln.
Our correspondents could not get the Head of Media and Publicity of the EFCC, Mr. Wilson Uwujaren, to comment on the story as calls to his mobile did not connect.
The Media Adviser to the former finance minister, Mr. Paul Nwabuikwu, could not be reached for comments on the scheduled probe of Okonjo-Iweala as calls made to his mobile failed to connect.
Similarly, he had yet to respond to a text message sent to him as of the time of filing this report on Monday.[Punch]