Two retired staff members of the Office of the National Security Adviser (ONSA), M. A. Kakangi and M. Usman have appealed to the new leadership of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) to revisit the case of Ambassador Haruna Mohammed Wando, the then Director of Communications at the ONSA.
According to the duo, Wando used his office as Director of Communications to embezzle funds meant to put in place an ICT-driven surveillance and security platform which was to check illegal activities within the territorial waters of Nigeria.
They claimed the EFCC under Ibrahim Magu uncovered the fraud perpetrated by Wando to the tune of over $459,369,500.40 (N189 billion) and following a court order, the money has been forfeited to the OAGF FGN (Office of the Attorney-General of the Federation) Assets Recovery Account.
They, however, said the forfeiture of the money was simply a 'slap on the wrist' for Wando as the other allegation levelled against him was overlooked.
Kakangi and Usman stated that Wando, exhausted N200 million on the renovation and refurbishing of the Directorate of Communications Office, of ONSA, after he (Wando) claimed was through direct labour.
According to them, former chief of staff, Abba Kyari also got Wando another appointment courtesy of the relationship between them.
Following his new appointment as Chief Policy Adviser, Major Contractor of the National Intelligence Agency (NIA), Wando was said to have also committed illegalities in the agency.
They said he was responsible for issues such as the forceful and premature retirement of Directors and Senior officers; incessant sending of Directors for wasteful courses all over the world, in a bid to silence opposition.
The recruitment of NIA staff was also said to have been outsourced to Wando's consultancy firm.
The appeal reads: “When we blew the whistle on the theft of almost Five Hundred Million Naira by Amb. Haruna Mohammed Wando, the then Director of Communications, in the Office of the National Security Adviser, we were called all sorts of names, and singled out for all sorts of witch-hunt, for whistle-blowing, instead of the praises, we expected.
“The whole information was suppressed by the powers that be at that time, a development that deprived the Nigerian Public and Taxpayers, the opportunity to know the whole truth.
“We made two allegations against the Ambassador, but only one was addressed, even that one addressed was half-heartedly, as far as we are concerned.
“That is why we intend to give the whole story now, for everybody to know the truth, As we write this report, we are also preparing a fresh and more comprehensive petition to the new Leadership of the EFCC, to reopen the matter.
“Amb. HW Wando was a Director at the National Intelligence Agency. Before he retired, he tried everything possible to replace Amb. O. O. Oladeji as the Director-General of the NIA.
“After exhausting all his connections, and failing to achieve his life ambition, he finally got a 'Consolation Appointment', as the Director of Communications, at the Office of National Security Adviser (ONSA), by Gen. Aliyu Mohammed Gusau.
“Thanks to the unrelenting efforts and Military connections of his Brother, Col. Musa Mohammed (rtd), a former Military Administrator and Gubernatorial candidate, in Gombe State.
“Amb. Wando, as the Director of Communications at ONSA, saw the decision of the Federal Government, through his recommendations, to put in place an ICT driven surveillance and security platform to check illegal activities within the Nigerian Territorial Waters, to enhance the security of Nigeria's Exclusive Zone (EEZ), as a perfect Gold Mine and an opportunity to reap where he did not sow.
“This project was meant to cover Nigeria's Coastline stretching 420 Nautical Miles from East to West, including the territorial sea and the EEZ of the Country.
“In order to actualise this dream, a Committee was set up to carry out an assessment of the Country's Maritime Security Architecture and Assets vis-a-vis desirability and Viability of the proposed project.
“The Committee whose mandate includes sourcing for relevant and reputable companies for the Project was headed, by no other person than the Director of Communications, of ONSA himself, (Amb. HM Wando).
“Around April to June 2012, the Committee invited several reputable Companies to forward technical and financial proposals; Companies which submitted proposals to that effect were however not eventually awarded the said Contract, at the end of the day.
“A new and hitherto unknown Company called RTCOM Limited, which was neither invited nor submitted any proposal, surreptitiously ended up getting the $459,369,500.40 Contract, Code Named FALCON Eye (FE).
“Stamford International Limited (SIL), which was competitively considered and picked as preferred bidder and was awarded the contract on the 11th April 2013, applied for a $5m mobilisation fee, which was denied.
“On 10th June 2013, RTCOM mysteriously appeared out of the blues and signed the same Contract with ONSA, for the implementation of the FE Project, at the Contract sum of $459,369,500.40.
“A mobilisation fee of $183,758,585, was paid to RTCOM on the 29th of May, 2014 on the recommendations of Amb. Wando. Investigations carried out by the EFCC revealed that the sum of One Million Dollars ($1m) was paid into the ECOBANK account no. 0129640544, belonging to Amb. HM, Wando, in structured periodic cash payments, shortly after the signing of the contract as a kickback.
“The EFCC, through their investigations, found the sum of N291,367,914.00 in ECOBANK account no. 0129640537 belonging to Amb. Wando and another USD 287,500.00, in Acc. No.0129640544, also belonging to Amb. Wando.
“All these monies have been forfeited to the OAGF FGN ASSETS RECOVERY ACCOUNT, as ordered by Justice Folashade Giwa- Ogunbanjo, vide order no. FHC/ABJ/CS/694/2019
“Our investigations later revealed that the reason why Amb. Wando got only a 'slap on the wrist' for this heinous and humongous crime against the Nation and apparent sabotage to National Security, was due to the intervention of his childhood friend and secondary school classmate in Maiduguri, who happened to be the Chief of Staff to the President (COS), at the time the scandal blew open.
“When the petition reached the EFCC, then under Ibrahim Magu, Amb. Wando quickly ran to the late Abba Kyari (of Blessed Memory), to save him from EFCC and the impending embarrassment and possible jail sentence, for the now unearthed scandal. At that time, EFCC had already invited him for questioning.
“The late COS immediately sprang into action by inviting Magu to his office and tried to suppress the case, there and then. He tried all he could to prevail on Magu to 'sweep the case under the carpet', but Magu pointed out to him that the issue was already in the public domain at that time, and it was impossible to suppress a case like that.
“After a long standoff, negotiations, and bargain, it was agreed that Magu should accept a kind of PLEA BARGAIN, as the Ambassador had agreed to forfeit all the monies he got from the fraudulent deal to the government and that all charges should be quietly dropped, in return.
“That was how the meeting and the matter ended, and EFCC, in turn, informed the Judge, that was already on the case, of the plea bargain deal, which led to the Judge issuing the orders for the permanent forfeiture of all the monies in Amb. Wando's account vide order no. FHC/ABJ/CS/694/2019 and the case was closed.
“The EFCC at that point did not even bother to look into the second allegation against Amb. Wando, which was the highly inflated, complete renovation and refurbishing of the Directorate of the Communications Office, of ONSA, at Wuse Zone 4, single-handedly, for almost two hundred million Naira (N200m) in what he (Wando) claimed was through direct labour.
“We are hereby appealing to EFCC to look into that massive looting of Government resources by this serial criminal, now that his late benefactor is not in a position to protect him anymore.
“Our thorough investigations confirmed to us that the late COS assured him not to bother with the money he lost, as he will help him to recover everything through other means, as compensation for the stolen money that he lost.
“The opportunity for that 'other means' came when Ahmed Rufai Abubakar was appointed the Director-General of the National Intelligence Agency (NIA). The late Abba Kyari, our sources revealed, called the DG of the NIA, and instructed him personally to register Amb. Wando as a Contractor in the Agency, and also appoint him quietly as his Chief Adviser on Policy and Operations.
"Kyari had told Abubakar that Wando as a former staff member, Director of Operations and other relevant Departments at NIA, will be a great asset to him considering Abubakar's obvious deficiencies, and challenges in the highly Technical Agency, which he left unceremoniously and ignominiously as a relatively Junior Officer in 2012, after failing his promotion examinations serially (three times consecutively), before he miraculously bounced back as its head in 2018.
“Based on this accord between the trio (COS, DG NIA, and Amb. Wando), Wando now returned fully in charge at the NIA, as the Chief Policy Adviser, Major Contractor and the main front of the DG, in all deals.
“The only problem here is that, as a highly selfish and self-centred person, most of the advice he is giving the DG are the ones which favoured him and his family only. To cut the story short, we will give only two examples of such issues that Amb. Wando advised the DG:
“To send his Son, Faisal Mohammed Wando, who is a GL 8 Officer, to take up the office of a GL. 16/17 Officer in Paris as a Liason Officer. A situation unheard of in the history of Intelligence services all over the World. Amb. Wando himself was appointed a Liason Officer in Germany when he was a GL. 16 Officer.
“The second useless, regrettable and selfish advice he gave the DG was the setting up of a Disciplinary Committee, made up of himself and three other close friends; (Ambs. Kayode Shinkaiye, Phillip Dauda, and Okeke) all Retired Directors, to try and recommend a Disciplinary measure on a very Senior Officer, knowing fully well that it was clearly against the relevant Disciplinary Provisions of the NIA establishment Act.
“To just enable them to earn and collect the expected fallout in form of honorarium earmarked for the assignment.
“This impunity and dictatorial decision, led to the unfortunate defeat of the NIA in the Court, in this Monumental and Exemplary 'must be won case' (We earnestly hope they win at the Appeal Court).
“Other issues like forceful and premature retirement of Directors and Senior Officers, and needless sending of Directors to useless and wasteful courses, in places like South Africa and other places, all over the World, just to silence opposition, and how the NIA now outsourced recruitment of staff to Amb. Wando's consultancy firm will be addressed in due course.”