Africa

Nigeria to probe generals over arms fraud

Nigerian soldiers Image copyright Getty Images
Image caption Many soldiers complain of not having enough equipment to take on Boko Haram militants

Twelve senior Nigerian army officers have been handed over to the anti-corruption agency for their alleged involvement in an arms scandal.

The army did not name them, but said they included six serving generals.

If the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) finds enough evidence against them, they would be tried in a military court, the army said.

A presidential inquiry last year found that fake contracts worth $2bn (£1.3bn) were awarded by last administration.

It alleged that the money, which was meant to buy arms to fight the Islamist Boko Haram group, has gone missing.

The former national security adviser, Sambo Dasuki, was charged in December in connection with the case involving $68m that is alleged to be missing. He was accused of awarding phantom contracts to buy helicopters, fighter jets and ammunition, which he denied.

Army spokesman Colonel Sani Usman said the 12 officers referred to the EFCC included three serving major generals, one retired major general, three brigadier generals, four colonels and a lieutenant colonel.

The army's announcement follows President Muhammadu Buhari's order last month to investigate 20 former military chiefs and officers over the alleged arms procurement fraud.

Suspects released

Several close associates of former President Goodluck Jonathan are also facing trial in connection with the scandal.

During the fight against Boko Haram, many soldiers reported that they did not have enough equipment to take on the insurgents.

Mr Buhari, who came to power last May, was largely elected on a promise to tackle corruption.

Image copyright AFP
Image caption The military denies allegations that it is maltreating detainees

Meanwhile the army has released 275 people arrested on suspicion of being members of Boko Haram in the north-eastern Borno state after they were found to have no links with the Islamist group.

They included 142 men, 49 women, 22 boys and 50 girls, a spokesman for the state governor, Usman Kumo, told the BBC Hausa service.

It is not clear how long they were in detention.

Last year, Amnesty International accused the military of maltreating detainees and said since 2011 more than 8,000 people had died in custody during the fight against Boko Haram.

Earlier this month, the UK-based campaign group criticised the reinstatement of an army general it accuses of committing war crimes.

The military said the allegations were being investigated.

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