The house of Representatives have been probing arms purchase from 2011 till date when the senate says it is not interested with the investigation. Are we yet to see frauds uncovered particularly on the side of ministry of defence carried out the purchase?
The National Security Adviser (NSA) Maj.-Gen. Babagana Monguno spoke with the BBC Hausa service. The heavens almost came down after this. In the interview, Maj.-Gen. Monguno was quoted as alleging that the immediate past Service Chiefs, who are now ambassadors-designate could not account for funds allocated for equipment. A statement by the Office of the National Security Adviser (ONSA) dismissed the reports saying the NSA was quoted out of context.
“We would like to state that the NSA was quoted out of context as he did not categorically say that funds meant for arms procurement were missing under the Former Service Chiefs as reported or transcribed by some media outlets from the BBC interview.
“During the interview, the National Security Adviser only reiterated the Federal Government’s commitment to deal decisively with insecurity and stated President Muhammadu Buhari’s continued commitment to provide all necessary support to the Armed Forces, including the provision of arms and equipment.
“In the interview the National Security Adviser clearly informed the BBC reporter that Mr President has provided enormous resources for arms procurement, but the orders were either inadequate or yet to be delivered and that did not imply that the funds were misappropriated under the former Service Chiefs.
“The NSA also informed the reporter that, Mr President is following up on the procurement process as is usual with contracts relating to military equipment, in most cases the process involves manufacturing, due diligence and tedious negotiations that may change delivery dates.
“As the National Security Adviser conveyed during the Aso Villa Media Briefing, questions relating to Defence procurement should be channelled to the Ministry of Defence.
“All Security and Intelligence agencies are working together to bring an end to insecurity with the full support of Mr. President and Stakeholders including the media and civil society as part of a whole-of-government and a whole-of-society approach to address our security challenges,” the statement said.
Contrary to the view that the pieces of equipment the NSA spoke about were purchased by the ex-Service Chiefs, they were ordered by the Ministry of Defence. In 2017, the then Minister of Defence, Gen. Mansur Dan-Ali, got approval of about $490m for the procurement of 12 Super Tucano aircrafts for the Nigerian Air Force from the United States government. Though the fund was approved early 2017, it was only released to the U.S. government in 2019. Funds were paid directly without any agent or middle businessman. The process for the procurement was concluded by Minister of Defence Maj.-Gen. Bashir Magashi. The role of the Army, Navy and the Air Force was to receive the equipment.
After the deal with the United States, the Ministry of Defence started dealing with arms contractors. On September 17, 2018, the Ministry of Defence issued a letter of contract award for the procurement surveillance equipment, weapons and ammunitions for the Nigerian Army. The cost was $99,538,467.23.
Another contract letter was issued on February 5, 2020 for equipment for the Navy, Army and the Defence Intelligence Agency at the cost of $43,680,000. The Bureau of Public Procurement (BPP) issued certificates of no objection for these contracts. On May 29 and November 29, 2019, the Army acknowledged receipt of some arms and ammunitions. And on January 31 and September 3, 2020, the Army acknowledged receipt of some Ground Surveillance Radar System (GSRS), Phantom 11 APCs and Legion MRAPS and confirmed that they were new and suitable for operational use. Also on January 5, January 6 and March 23, this year, the Army acknowledged the receipt of Phantom APCs, arms and ammunitions ordered by the Ministry of Defence on September 18, 2020.
The Navy, Army and Air Force have received some of the equipment and others are being awaited. Some of the anti-terror equipment either already received or being awaited are T90 Tank Second Generation, Armoured Repair Recovery BREM-4, Ground Radar System (Reutech) surveillance equipment, 81mm Mortar, MG-127-DSHK-M, AKMS, 81mm mortar bombs, Cart 12.7x108mm and 122mm GRAD. Other items include Legion MRAP, 12.7mm DSHK AA gun, CODAN radio, armoured Turret, Phantom and 12.7mm DSHK AA gun.
The House of Representatives is probing arms purchase from 2011 till date. Chief of Army Staff Lt.-Gen. Ibrahim Attahiru told the House of Representatives’ Ad Hoc Committee on the Need to Review the Purchase, Use and Control of Arms, Ammunition and Related Hardware by Military, Paramilitary and Other Law Enforcement Agencies that he was less than two months in office, while the period being reviewed by the lawmakers exceeds the duration. The Army chief also submitted documents about the Army’s role— which was to receive and certify equipment ordered and paid for by the Ministry of Defence.
Lt.-Gen. Attahiru called on the House of Representatives to invite specific individuals and agencies responsible for the purchase of arms for the Nigerian army.
The COAS argued that the documents presented to the committee explained what the committee wants as specified in their correspondence with the office.
“The submission before you speaks to the report before. It is an executive summary. Issues of procurement that you demand to get to know were run by specific individuals. I would rather prefer you call these individuals what I explained to you very specific issues.
“The general issues have been contained in the report and the executive summary is so contained. It goes to speak about the entire report and explains it,” he added.
The Senate is not interested in probing arms purchase. Its Chairman of the Senate Committee on Army, Senator Ali Ndume, said the Senate was more concerned about properly motivating the Nigerian Army to end the security challenges confronting the country.
Ndume, who spoke with reporters shortly after a meeting with the Chief of Army Staff Lt.-Gen. Attahiru and members of the Senate Committee on Army, said: “What we’re concerned about is for the Nigerian Army to get what they need in order to prosecute the war. So that next time we come here, we’ll be talking about timeline, we’ll be talking about when the war will be over and when we’re expecting that Nigeria will be secured and be peaceful again.
“Well the Senate is looking forward and as you know the House of Representatives is looking into that, we don’t want to talk about that. The Senate is trying to see what we can do about the future, about the present but I can assure you that whatever is done anywhere and anyhow, if not done correctly, Nigerians, even after us will find out and do something about it. What we are concerned about is for the Nigerian Army to get what they need in other to prosecute the war.
“As you know, the Chief of Army Staff is under our purview in terms of oversight, and the second reason is that they have a daunting task of mitigating the various security challenges that we have in the country and the National Assembly is very important in terms of giving the necessary legislative support to the Nigerian Army.
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