The Chief of Army Staff (COAS), Lt. Gen. Ibrahim Attahiru, has insisted that his predecessors, who were the former Army Chiefs, should be the ones to offer explanations with regards to the funds approved by the Federal Government to purchase ammunition to fight insurgency in the North East.
Attahiru stated this in a hearing before the House Adhoc Committee on Arms and Ammunition Purchase, at the National Assembly on Monday.
Thefact Nigeria had reported that the National Security Adviser, NSA, Babagana Monguno, in a BBC Hausa interview, last month revealed that funds running into billions of naira meant for the procurement of arms and ammunition under the past service chiefs were unaccounted for.
Members of the House Adhoc Committee on Arms and Ammunition Purchase had asked the army chief to explain the contents of the ‘Executive Summary’ on supposedly ‘arms purchase contracts’ awarded by the Nigerian Army, which he had presented before them, to which he responded that his predecessors, not he, should be responsible for explaining contracts of arms purchase he did not personally authorize or award, emphasizing that he had barely settled into office, and is definitely not the right person to speak on arms and ammunition purchased by his predecessors.
Attahiru further insisted that the submission before the Committee, an executive summary, was “very self-explanatory” and that the period which the report covers explains whatever details are required by the Committee, reminding them that “the Chief of Army Staff took over the mantle of leadership barely two months ago”.
Speaking further during the hearing, Lt. Gen. Attahiru, gave reasons for his inability to honour previous invitations and summons of the Reps Committee.
“I was either in the North East, South East or better still, South-South trying to ensure stability within Nigeria”, he stated.
However, a member of the committee from Delta State, Ejiro Ogene, faulted Attahiru’s explanation for not appearing before it earlier, emphasizing that the National Assembly is the House of the Nigerian people and speaks for the Nigerian people and everybody in public office works for Nigerians.
“When we ask you to come, the people are the ones speaking. Sovereignty lies in the people; if we see it like this, things will be different.
“I expect that the COAS tenders an apology, not an explanation; you are serving the people and they are as your employer,” Ogene said.
Attahiru in response said his explanation serves as an apology.
“When you say I offered an explanation, it is as good as an apology. It only tells you the reasons why I wasn’t here and the reasons are pungent enough,” he told the lawmakers.
Sensing rising tensions, however, the chairman of the Committee, Olaide Akinremi, ruled that the hearing goes into a closed-door meeting and the media excluded from the hearing.
The House Adhoc Committee on Arms and Ammunition Purchase is tasked with reviewing the purchase, use, and control of arms, ammunition, and related hardware by the military, paramilitary, and other law enforcement agencies in Nigeria.