Nigeria has accused 300 firms and individuals, including army officers, of embezzling 48bn naira ($241.45mn) through overpaid defence contracts or fraud, the presidency said in a widening a crackdown on graft.
President Muhammadu Buhari was elected a year ago on a pledge to root out endemic corruption that has held most of the 180mn Nigerians in poverty despite the country’s enormous oil wealth.
The former military ruler has fired or investigated dozens of officials serving under his predecessor, Goodluck Jonathan, and ordered an audit of key government bodies such as state oil firm NNPC.
“A committee set up to probe contracts awarded by the Office of the National Security Adviser from 2011 to 2015 has indicted more than 300 companies and prominent citizens including serving and retired officers of the armed forces,” the presidency said in a statement.
The companies and individuals, some of which were listed in the statement, had repaid more than 7bn naira to the government and were expected to return a further 41bn naira, the statement added.
“Several contractors were apparently overpaid, while others were given full upfront payments contrary to their contract terms and agreements in force,” it said.
Another firm had been given €7.9mn ($8.83mn) and $7.09mn in overpaid contracts, according to the statement.
One of those indicted was Sambo Dasuki, former president Jonathan’s security adviser, the first former official put on trial for graft.
A similar committee has accused Dasuki of fraud involving $68mn of defence spending, which are part of a wider $2.1bn in arms deals that are under scrutiny.
The former security adviser has denied the charges.
Jonathan’s supporters deny that corruption spiked during his presidency and say Buhari is conducting a witch-hunt against members of the former president’s People’s Democratic Party.