Reps to Army Chief: Come explain how military weapons got to bandits

The House of Representatives on Friday said the Chief of Army Staff, Major General Ibrahim Attahiru should appear
before it to explain how weapons bought for the Nigerian Army ended up in the hands of bandits.

The House also on  Friday expressed grave concern over allegations made by the National Security Adviser (NSA) Major General  Mohammed Babagana Monguno (rtd), that the former Service Chiefs could not account for billions of naira voted for  the purchase of arms for the fight against insurgency and armed banditry. The National Security Adviser who spoke in a  BBC Hausa programme was quoted to have alleged that the new military chiefs had not seen any evidence of arms procurement in their records and hand-over notes on the assumption of office.

The Ad-hoc Committee set up by the House to review the purchase, use and control of arms, ammunition and related hardware by military, paramilitary and other law enforcement agencies in Nigeria, chaired by Hon. Olaide Akinremi  resolved to invite the Chief of Army Staff, to appear in person to respond  to allegations bothering on  how weapons  purchased for the military and police ended up in the hands of bandits and miscreants.

Hon. Akinremi who issued  the  notice after the closed door session with representatives of the Chief of Army  Staff led by Major General C. Ofuche  which lasted for 15 minutes, also stressed the need for the Governor of the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN), Mr. Godwin  Emefiele to appear before the Committee. Hon. Akinremi who observed that both arms of Government are working  toward achieving one goal, “it’s for the purpose of one goal, the betterment of Nigeria.

“Before I give you the floor, you  may be aware of news going round I got that as breaking news this morning also, it says, it seems the money  released to  former Service Reps to Army Chief: Come explain how military weapons got to bandits Chiefs by President  uhammadu Buhari to buy weapons  to fight terrorism, banditry and kidnapping is missing. “Because the new Service Chiefs have  confirmed to us, that they didn’t see where the new weapons were purchased  in their handing over. “Apparently, the  money is missing.

And the money in question is in trillions of naira. And we must investigate. So with all of these going  on, coupled with international interest especially, the Nigerians we represent, they are all watching. So we need to  handle this issue with care.  We all agree that it is very very sensitive,” he observed. Other lawmakers, who expressed concern over the breach of extant regulations,  underscored the need to examine the level of compliance with extant provisions of the Public Procurement Act, 2007.

Speaking on the extant provisions of the section 88 of the  1999  Constitution (as amended), Hon. Ifeanyi Momah who raised a Point of Order said: “I don’t think the representatives  of  the Chief of Army Staff can be held culpable or liable for any remarks made here because it is assumed that any  remarks  that is made is mad by the Chief of Army Staff. So if he’s not the one making the remarks it’s very easy for him  to actually engage in culpable  deniability because he’s not the one making the remarks.”

In his intervention, Hon.  Ibrahim Al-Mustapha Aliyu  who noted that the Ad-hoc committee was not witchhunt anybody, stressed the  need for  the accounting officer of the Nigerian Army to appear in person to explain how weapons bought for the military and  police ended up in the hands of bandits.

“For the chairman and secretariat there is no communication before that the  Chief of Army Staff is having another schedule that may not allow him to be physically present here. That is a  contravention to section 88, section 89 subsection 1, and of course section one of the Armed Forces Act 1994. So we   re not witch-hunting but telling you what the law says.

“In line with the position of the previous speakers, I want  to  reiterate that this is a very serious and sensitive security matter. At least let us see the man, being that this is the first meeting with the Nigerian  Army, the accounting officer of the Army should have appeared to give us his account, his  position as far as the communications ade to him.

“Basically, we are detailed not to be friendly, but to work  to find fault.  ou can bear witness to the fact that Nigeria is now embroiled in serious security issues and yearin- year-out,  appropriations were made and huge sums expended on procurement of arms and ammunitions and yet with most of the  arrests made, you find these arms and ammunition with some of these bandits and miscreants.

“Some of them can  e  traced back to the very military or  police. It is a serious issue andthe National Assembly is well positioned to dig deep  into the root of this issue and find solutions. As moved by my  colleague, there is the need  for a motion to allow the  Chief  of Army Staff come and make his submissions personally to this committee.”

In his remarks however,  Major  General C. Ofuche who apologized on behalf of the Chief of Army Staff, said: “He should have been here today and all  indication to that was already in motion, but for several trips. If you watched the TV, he was in Ibadan and Enugu  yesterday all for the same security needs.

“The country is embroiled in a lot of crises so they are moving around and he  thought he could make it down here this morning for this meeting. And so the notice was quite short for me to come and  represent him because he would have loved to do it personally and that is why there is no written note,” he said.  After the brief remarks, the lawmakers unanimously resolved to a closed door session which lasted for about  15  minutes. While giving update on the  outcome of the closed door meeting, Hon. Akinremi explained that the Committee   will communicate the next legislative hearing to the public.

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