Gen. U. M. Mohammed, the embattled senior military officer being tried by court-martial in the Federal Capital Territory, Abuja, for fraud and embezzlement has narrated how former Chief of Army Staff, Lt. Gen. Tukur Buratai (retd.) lavished funds from the Nigerian Army Properties Limited (NAPL) on his (Buratai’s) family members.
Although the Nigerian Army barred journalists from covering the trial of Mohammed, the account and confessions of the Major-General made available to the media revealed how he indicted Buratai further, saying the former army chief who stayed for over five years in office, used military housing funds to build a “bread bakery for his family member.”
Not done, Buratai also funded his “wives” from the same deposits for Hajj and Umrah activities, according to Mohammed, who was a strong ally of the former army chief.
Newsmen exclusively reported how Buratai was also accused of allowing the sale of houses through the NAPL to politicians and Very Important Personalities (VIPs) at a ridiculous 75 per cent discount.
Mohammed had identified the VIPs and politicians as family and friends of the First Lady, Aisha Buhari (President Muhammadu Buhari’s wife), who were used as beneficiaries, to receive the houses on her behalf as gifts from Buratai.
Meanwhile, continuing in his testimony, sources said Mohammed narrated that “part of the deposits of payment made by Military officers for houses in Asokoro, was used to sponsor different batches of senior military officers and their families for vacation to several countries, transportation of NA Officers by air during COAS Conferences holding outside Abuja".
“He said it was also used in building and construction of the International Centre for Contemporary Security Affairs, Igbinedion University, CBT Centre Suleja.
“A bread bakery was built for a family member of Buratai and the wives of Buratai were funded from the deposits for Hajj and Umrah activities,” one of the sources said.
The Nigerian Army prevented journalists from covering the trial of Maj. Gen. U. M. Mohammed by court-martial despite claiming that it was an open trial.
The Nigerian Army was secretly detaining Mohammed after exposing how he laundered funds for Buratai.
This came despite claims made by the Army headquarters on Sunday through Brigadier General Onyema Nwachukwu, Director of Army Public Relations, that the trial “is held in the open” and “not shrouded in secrecy”.
Meanwhile, from the account of one of the sources privy to the court-martial, it was revealed that “during a previous court martial sitting that took place recently, Major General A. A. Adesope, a former Group Managing Director (GMD) of Nigerian Army Properties Limited (NAPL), who spoke as a witness of the Nigerian Army, testified that he spent only 41 days as the GMD of NAPL.”
According to Adesope, he was posted out of NAPL because he made a report of misappropriation and allocation of houses made to civilians who bought properties with a discount of 75%.
But during cross-examination, Maj. Gen. Mohammed, in his defence, testified that the allocation of houses to civilians was a directive from Buratai. Mohammed said Buratai directed the issuance of allocation of houses to some VVIPs and politicians at a discount of 75%.
One of the sources quoted Mohammed as saying, “On March 19, Buratai directed one Lt. Col. Christy to make payment for the houses allocated to the VVIPs and politicians to Access Bank with account name FCCNAPL and account number 0769911478.”
He continued, “When Adesope took over NAPL and found out about the allocation to the civilians and 75% discount, he quickly made a report to Lt Gen Buratai (Rtd) accusing me of misappropriation, without reaching out to me for verification.
"Gen. Buratai now called me to find out how Adesope got to know about the allocation and discount, I told him it was captured in the sales records handed over to Adesope. Buratai became so annoyed and ordered for his posting out as GMD,A senior military source added, “From our investigations, the VVIPs and politicians are family and friends of Aisha Buhari who were used as beneficiaries, to receive the houses on her behalf as a gift from Gen Buratai.”
Reports that Maj. Gen. Mohammed, until his arrest and secret detention in the past year, was in charge of NAPL.
Sources had told us that Mohammed was being punished at the behest of Buratai with whom he was involved in illegalities and shady dealings, carried out on the orders of the former Army chief while he was in office.
As the officer in charge of NAPL, Mohammed controlled army properties across the country.
We had report that while being court-martialled, Mohammed, who had been arrested and held in secret detention since January 2022, confessed that Buratai asked him to pay $730,000 to obtain Saudi Arabia citizenship for him (Buratai) to evade justice for the atrocities committed by the army while he was the chief of staff.
Meanwhile, the court-martial has been going on secretly since September 2022.
Checks by Newsmen revealed that he was initially arrested for “terrorism financing” to cover up for the real reason behind his ordeal.
Sources also told Newsmen that Mohammed told the special court that on the orders of Buratai, he also released funds for trips for the wives of the former Army chief and some military activities like the movement of people when Buhari opened the Nigerian Army University in Biu, Borno State.
It was learnt that Buratai also instructed Mohammed to pay huge sums of money to some Muslim clerics “praying for Buratai’s administration” as Chief of Army Staff at the time.
Last Friday, Newsmen reported that Mohammed was ill and had spent one week in the intensive care unit of the NAOWA clinic in Abuja.
According to sources, the Army authorities had restricted public access and any form of visitation to the general.
It was learnt that Mohammed who hails from Niger state is senior to the current Chief of Army Staff, Lt. Gen. Faruk Yahaya, having been part of 36 Regular Course of the Nigerian Army.
Sources revealed that normally General Mohammed ought to have retired two years ago, adding that because of the intention of the army authorities to punish him, "the army authorities refused to retire him, instead kept him in detention."
Sources also told that Mohammed had agreed to expose Buratai when the late Lt. Gen. Ibrahim Attahiru became the Chief of Army Staff.
Unfortunately, before he could "spill the beans, Attahiru died under tragic circumstances in a plane crash in Kaduna," one of the sources said. "The plane was a twin-engine aircraft which was not suitable for his rank."
But while being court-martialled, one of the sources said Mohammed had “already revealed to the army that since 2019, Buratai has used his position to buy properties for politicians including the First Lady, Aisha Buhari and also used the NAPL to fund President Muhammadu Buhari’s 2019 presidential campaign”.