According to Punch newspaper, prominent Nigerians and groups on Monday urged the Federal Government, particularly the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, to investigate the Chief of Army Staff, Lt. Gen. Tukur Buratai, over the purchase of $1.5m properties in Dubai, the United Arab Emirates.
The Chief Of Army Staff and his two wives were reported last week by an online medium, Sahara Reporters, to have owned $1.5m properties in Dubai.
The National Publicity Secretary of Afenifere, Yinka Odumakin, in an interview with the newspaper, said Buratai should be probed over the allegation of the Dubai property scandal.
He stated, “The defence the army put up for him is so silly to be believed outside the barracks. All the earnings of Buratai since he joined the army, if all were saved, cannot buy a house in Dubai, let alone two. The army also exposed itself as a lying institution when it said Buratai was never in charge of procurement in writing. The investigation should make Buratai to let the country know that he did other businesses to buy the property in question so that the integrity of the anti-corruption war can be intact.
“The house could only come legitimately through other businesses outside his pay. The savings from the salaries of any army officer in Nigeria cannot buy a house in Dubai.”
Also, the Socio-Economic Rights and Accountability Project said it was the duty of the EFCC and the ICPC to investigate Buratai’s claim that the houses purchased in Dubai were done with his personal savings.
Speaking in an interview with one of Punch correspondents on Monday, SERAP’s Executive Director, Adetokunbo Mumuni, said for the anti-corruption war to be seen as fair, the anti-graft agencies must consider whether Buratai could afford the properties based on his financial records as a civil servant.
He said, “The bulk stops at the table of the EFCC and the ICPC to investigate the COAS. Did Buratai and his two wives acquire the property in Dubai and paid for it in a single transaction? As a civil servant, how much has he received in salaries and emoluments? Are these big enough to acquire the properties? For the anti-corruption war to be seen as fair and not selective, the anti-graft agencies must investigate Buratai. It is their duty.”
Reacting, the President of the Committee for the Defence of Human Rights, Mr. Malachy Ugwummadu, told Punch that Buratai should be probed in as much as he could not justify the purchase of the Dubai property with his legitimate earnings.
Ugwummadu, a lawyer, said, “The main thrust of the two major legal regimes designed to deal with anti-corruption regime is to ensure that by no means persons allowed to live in excess of their legitimate means.
“If Buratai’s years of entry into the military are known and his salary ascertainable and it is not enough to satisfy a full-time soldier who is also excluded from other endeavours apart from farming and agriculture, he should be probed.
“This is painful to me, because Buratai has shown commendable capacity to fight against insurgency in Nigeria.”
He however warned that “we must be circumspect because that could be the antics of the fifth columnist.”
The Ministry of Defence had earlier on Monday dismissed the controversy generated by an online media report over the ownership of two properties by Buratai’s family in Dubai.
The Minister of Defence, Mansur Dan-Ali, said that the media report was an attempt by some persons to distract the leadership of the Armed Forces from the successful prosecution of the intensified campaign against terrorism in the North -East.
The minister’s comments were contained in a statement signed on his behalf by his Principal General Officer, Brig. Gen. Mohammed Ahmed, on Monday.
But a Senior Advocate of Nigeria, Femi Falana, has slammed the Nigeria Army for defending Buratai over the Dubai properties.
Falana said it was not the business of the Army to speak for Buratai on the allegations.
According to him, since public offices require public trust, Buratai should submit himself to the Code of Conduct Bureau and the anti-graft agencies to clear his name.
He said, “Buratai should willingly invite the CCB, the EFCC, the ICPC to look into the matter. If Buratai was alleged to have unjustly purchased the houses, he has to come out to defend himself. He must show how the money used to purchase the houses was transferred.”