Weeds have overrun some of the property allegedly belonging to a former Chief of Army Staff, Lt.-Gen Azubuike Ihejirika (retd.), which were seized by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission.
Sources within the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission said that the properties, including a hotel, chalet, duplex, mansion and a parcel of land, all located within an estate off Jabi-Airport Road in Abuja, were worth about N1.2bn.
It was observed that mechanics had set up a makeshift workshop in front of one of the buildings.
The inscription on the fences read, ‘EFCC. Keep off!’
A mechanic, who spoke in Yoruba, said, “When they were still in power, dozens of soldiers were stationed here permanently. However, after the EFCC sealed off the property in January, all the soldiers left. We are using this place temporarily.”
A security guard at the hotel stated that to be commissioned in February.
He said, “Gen. Ihejirika used to come here. Soldiers were the ones guarding this hotel. It was supposed to have opened for business in February, but the place was sealed off.”
The Presidential Committee on Audit of Defence Equipment Procurement charged with investigating the Defence Equipment Procurement from 2007 to 2015, had indicted Ihejirika and 17 serving and retired military personnel, 12 serving and retired public officials, and 24 chief executive officers of companies.
It found that contracts by the Ministry of Defence for the period under review were often awarded without significant input from the Nigerian Army to vendors who lacked necessary technical competence.
However, Ihejirika’s lawyer, Mr. Nnoruka Udechukwu (SAN), said that the EFCC was on a witch-hunt.
Udechukwu said the probe was a deliberate attempt to link his client with the $15bn arms scam involving an embattled former National Security Adviser, Col. Sambo Dasuki (retd.).
“This thing happened many years ago and not now. It has nothing to do with the Dasuki investigation. It was across the board and didn’t affect Ihejirika alone.
“Without trial, someone is being asked to admit that he stole. People are tried on the pages of newspapers and cajoled into pleading guilty. They say he stole money many years ago and that the money was shared in 2015 but the property was bought in 2014 or before that time. Can’t you see that it doesn’t hold water?
“The property was not bought during President Muhammadu Buhari’s administration. They (Buhari’s government) shouldn’t go about vilifying people. If they have a case, let them go to court instead of using media trial. It is offensive to public policy. If they don’t have the competence to try the case in court, then they should shut up.”