Former Chiefs of Army Staff, Lt. Gen. O.A. Ihejirika and Lt. Gen. KTJ Minimah and 52 others, ordered to be investigated by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) in connection with arms deals during the Jonathan years, are to be interrogated by a special team.
The team has already been constituted by the anti-graft agency, it was learnt yesterday.
Besides, the movement of most of those listed for probe has been restricted to the country.
The interrogation of some of the serving and retired public/military officers may commence as early as Monday, highly placed sources hinted yesterday.
President Muhammadu Buhari gave the nod for the probe following the recommendation of the Presidential Committee on Audit of Defence Equipment, headed by AVM JON Ode, in its third interim report to the president.
It was confirmed that the Chairman of EFCC, Mr. Ibrahim Magu has constituted the special team to handle the interrogation.
A reliable source said: “The presidency referred the report to the EFCC over one week ago. We have been doing a lot of legal and forensic analysis of the findings.
“As I speak with you, the EFCC chairman has raised a special team to interrogate those recommended for probe.
“For concentration, members of the team had been detached from other assignments in their care before this report came.
“Having done preliminary work on the report, we might begin the interrogation of some of the key suspects as from Monday.”
The special team is expected to “work in collaboration with other security agencies.”
“Apart from putting some of those affected in detention, the movement of some of the serving and retired public/military officers has been restricted to the country; and most of them are now under surveillance by security agencies,” the source added.
Besides the ex-Army Chiefs, others recommended for probe are 16 other retired and serving Army officers, 12 serving and retired public officers and 24 Chief Executive Officers of companies involved in the procurement of equipment.
They include a former Minister of State for Foreign Affairs (II), Dr. Nurudeen Mohammed and three former permanent secretaries in the Ministry of Defence – Mr. Bukar Goni Aji, Mr. Haruna Sanusi and Mr. E.O, Oyemomi.
The CEOs to be investigated include Col. Olu Bamgbose (rtd.) of Bamverde Ltd; Mr. Amity Sade of Doiyatec Comms Ltd and DYI Global Services and Mr. Edward Churchill of Westgate Global Trust Ltd.
Meanwhile, the outgoing United States Ambassador to Nigeria, Mr. James Entwistle, has commended the Acting Chairman of EFCC, Mr. Magu for the vigour he has brought to the fight against corruption in the country.
He said the best part of his time in Nigeria was strengthening cooperation with law enforcement agencies, especially the EFCC.
Entwistle made the commendation when Magu visited him.
The Head of Media and Publicity of EFCC, Mr. Wilson Uwujaren, quoted Entwistle in a statement as saying: “It is in our interest to see Nigerian law enforcement capacity grow… It is not enough to complain about things.
“We have to help our friends I am proud of the EFCC and privileged to be of some help.”
He expressed delight that the President had already asked the National Assembly to confirm the appointment of the EFCC Chairman and wished him well.
The EFCC Chairman said the purpose of the visit was to wish the departing envoy fare well.
He said he had enjoyed close working relationship with the United States government during the tenure of Entwistle.
He said it was significant that the envoy was leaving at a time the Commission is having its best relationship with the US.
Magu thanked the envoy for his support and cooperation.
“Even when you leave, do not forget us. Continue to be our ambassador,” he pleaded.
He also urged Ambassador Entwistle to continue to monitor his performance as chairman of the EFCC.
He assured the Ambassador that “having come this far, I will never compromise my integrity in the fight against corruption.”