LAGOS, Nigeria (AA) – Nigeria’s former chief of defense has been detained as part of a corruption probe.
Security sources say former Air Chief Marshal Alex Badeh was held by a presidential directive amid a probe into arms procurement deals.
At least two operatives from the country’s Economic and Financial Crimes Commission – the agency probing an alleged procurement scam – told Anadolu Agency Badeh was detained on Monday night after hours of interrogation.
“The questioning continues today [Tuesday]. We finished with him late yesterday and so he was detained,” one of the sources said on Tuesday.
Last month President Muhammadu Buhari directed the antigraft body to probe 17 top officers, serving and retired, to establish their alleged involvement in the mismanagement or diversion of defense funds totaling $2.1 billion.
Badeh topped the list of the officers ordered to be investigated.
Presidential spokesman Garba Shehu had said in a statement that several infractions have been established. The officers and 21 other persons or companies were indicted for allegedly being part of either failed contracts or diversion of funds.
A source at the country’s defense headquarters confirmed that Badeh is being detained along with some other former senior military figures.
“They may be charged to court very soon,” the source added.
In the Jan. 15 statement, the president’s spokesman said the decision to probe the military chiefs followed their indictment by a panel Buhari set up on August 23 to examine defense procurements in light of Nigerian troops fighting the Boko Haram insurgency claiming not to have adequate weapons.
The panel submitted an interim report in Nov. 2015, establishing several infractions in arms purchasing including “failed contracts”.
Indicted by the committee for an alleged diversion of defense funds, a Goodluck Jonathan-era national security adviser, Col. Sambo Dasuki, is now standing trial along with several other top officials of the past administration plus top operatives of the former ruling PDP.
Air Chief Marshal Badeh was appointed chief of defense staff on Jan. 16, 2014 and was retired on July 13, 2015. Both his predecessor, Mohammed Dikko Umar, and his air force successor are also being investigated.
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