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 in 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 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 Honourable 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.
Honorable 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.
Honorable 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 Muhammadu 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, Honorable Ibrahim Al-Mustapha Aliyu who noted that the Ad-hoc committee was not witchhunting 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 are not witch-hunting but telling you what the law says.