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.