Former president, Goodluck Jonathan, his Chief Security Officer and the former Petroleum Minister are alleged to have wasted $6.9 million dollars on three 40-feet mobile stages for use during mass public speaking events.
This was revealed by Federal government investigators and security agencies who say that this was just a tip of a big iceberg of corrupt practices frequently engaged and condoned under the presidency of the immediate past president.
They say that the sum for the mobile stages were incredibly inflated and government investigators even suggest that there is no evidence as yet that any stage was purchased at all.
investigations reveal that the cost of mobile stages range in size and designs, only outlandish rock star musicians in Europe and the U.S. spend hundreds of thousands on their huge stages way bigger than the 40-feet stages.
Those arts won’t even pay over $2m per stage, according to industry sources.
The investigators say that the offices of the Auditor-General and the Accountant-General had no idea of the process of procurement of the three mobile stages.
“There are no records of this purchase which was carried out in late 2011,” says an authoritative source.
This particular purchase was made when President Jonathan secured victor at the 2011 general election after completing the term of late President Umaru Yar’adua.
A source told reporters that former Chief Security Officer (CSO) to President Jonathan, Gordon Obuah was the one who initiated a memo to the former president on October 17, 2011 asking for the purchase of three mobile stages.
He said in the memo to Jonathan that it was regarding “my earlier discussion with Your Excellency on the security implication of your public appearances and your subsequent directive on the need to procure a secured presidential platform”.
Jonathan is said to have approved the approval of the request to buy the three stages to the then Minister for Petroleum Resources, Diezani Alison-Madueke.
In his minute, the president said “we have discussed this, please deal.”
Immediately after the approval, the Senior Special Assistant to the President on Administrative Matters, Matt Aikhionbere did another letter on the strength of the president’s approval requesting the Petroleum Minister to take action on the request to purchase the stages for $6.9m.
In a month’s time, an NNPC payment voucher number 3840336 revealed where the money was released.
The money was routed from the US bank to an NNPC account in Zenith Bank account number 5000026593, Maitama branch in Abuja, from where the money was sent to a private Sterling Bank account of J. Marine Logistics Limited, Abuja, a company investigators say was registered by Obuah.
Obuah himself is yet to provide proof of purchase till this day and his memo has irked his bosses at the SSS that he took the initiative to write requesting for the stages, an action officials say was way above his pay grade.
Investigators say, “it is not the duty or responsibility of the CSO to make the determination on that purchase. He was meant to have informed the service, which will then review the situation and act accordingly.”
The source continued: “What has happened here is that the former president and the former minister with the collusion of the CSO decided to dip their hands into the public till and steal public funds for other purposes since no one has found the stages as we speak.”
“The former president approved the procurement of the mobile platforms without due process, bypassing the Procurement Act.
“There was also no appropriation in the 2011 budget for such facility,” investigators said.
The source added that neither the minister of Finance nor the Director-General of the Budget Office was aware of the deal.
Investigators say this is just one of the several instances where the Jonathan administration used secret NNPC accounts to fund many questionable projects and for alleged personal financial aggrandizement.
The CSO has already been questioned over his role and activities in the Jonathan presidency. It would be recalled that he was arrested, detained, questioned and later released.