Insecurity: House Ad-hoc Committee Investigation On $1billion Arms Fund Turns To A shouting Mach With The COAS

By Stephen Ubanna

Barely  four years  after President Muhammadu Buhari, a retired army General, established the $1billion arms Fund for the use of purchase arms and ammunitions for the military to help fight the Islamic Fundamentalist Group , BokoHaram, and the Islamic state of West African Province, ISWAP, insurgents in the  north eastern states of Adamawa, Borno and Yobe, the Femi Gbajabiamila led House of Representatives had constituted an ad-hoc Committee on arms and ammunition to investigate the spending of  the arms fund.  

Political Observers  see the  decision as a bold initiative by the Lawmakers. There had been pressure on the Katisna state born Nigerian President, National Assembly, Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, EFCC, and the Independent  Corrupt Practices and other Related Offences Commission, ICPC,  to probe the spending of the $1billion arms fund as there were insinuations making the rounds that the money was missing.  

Recall that a Coalition  of Civil Society  Organisations  under the aegies  of Nigerian Democracy Working Group , SERRAP, and he Opposition PDP,  had consistently called on the Katina state born Nigerian President and the National Assembly to investigate  the allegations of the missing $1billion arms fund.  The situation was so worrisome that members of the House of Representatives have to go back to the drawing board which informed why they Constituted the ad-hoc Committee mandated to go ahead with the investigation of the use of the arms in order to disabuse  people’s mind about the use of the fund.  

Gbajabiamila” Speaker House Of Representatives

The Katsina state  born Nigerian President may have been encouraged  to set up the $1bllion arms fund when  the  36 state  governors of the Federation  approved the money  for the government  to be taken from  the $2,3billion Nigerian excess Crude account, as at 2017, going by the report of the then Accountant General.

 Goodwin Obaseki, then governor of Edo state on the Platform  of the All Progressive Congress, APC, who was forced to decamp to the People’s Democratic Party, PDP, to seek re-election in 2019, which he had won, was said to have  broken the news of the approved $1billion to the Buhari when the goings was good.

Hear him: We  are pleased  with the Federal  government  achievements  in the insurgency war    that’’ the vein state  governors  have approved   that the sum of $1billion to  be taken from the excess Crude account by the government  to fight the insurgency war to its conclusion’’.

The  Nigerian President was said to have given the then service chiefs in 2018, the nod to  use the $1 billion arms fund  to procure new weapons, after a meeting with them to review  cases of violent  unrest  and conflicts in different parts of the country.  By there have been news making the rounds that the money was not judiciously used by the former service chief to do the needful.

Akinremi: Chairman, House Ad-hoc Committee On Investigation Of Arms Fund

This may have informed  why people have hailed Gbajabiamila, the Speaker of the House of Representatives for taking the bold initiative  to allow the House  ad-hoc Committee’’ to investigate how the $1billion arms fund was spent.  The House ad-hoc Committee on arms and ammunition  under  the Chairmanship of Olaide Akiremi, was sad to have extended an  invitation to Ibrahim Atthahiru, a Lt. General  and Chief of Army Staff, COAS, to appear before it to shed more light on how the arms fund was spent by the military Authorities  to procure arms over the last four years.

As a prelude to appearing before  the  Committee , the COAS, was said to have forwarded an Executive summary of how the money was spent to the Committee as demanded. It was therefore not very surprising that  when he eventually appeared before the Committee members, he refused to entertain any further  questions arising from the document which he had already presented to them, insisting that it was ‘’self-explanatory’’. The meeting between the Lawmakers and the COAS, was said to have turned out to be a shouting match that they were forced to go behind closed door to calm frayed nerves.

The army General who was not ready to be rubbished by the Lawmakers may have found a soft-landing for himself. He was said to have told the Committee members  to sheath their sword  as he had barely resumed   into office barely about two months ago, insisting that’’ he  is definitely not the  right person  ‘’to speak  on the arms and ammunition purchased by his predecessors’’.

Lt.Gen.Atthahiru: COAS

An aggrieved Atthahiru, who was said to have been shocked at the questions from the Lawmakers that were coming from different corners may have been forced to speak out. ‘’The report before you is the Executive summary of how the $1billion arms fund was spent. It is very self-explanatory to the extent that it has been pluralised’’, he had said.

 He may have taken on the Lawmakers to expose their ignorance.  ‘’When you demanded for the report and stated the specific period  for which you wanted it’’, it was supplied’’, an indication that they were bothering him with issues which has no  relevance to the report that was before them. Atthahiru, the COAS, who could not hide his feelings, may have shocked the Committee members when he disclosed that ‘’the issues of the arms and ammunition purchase were handled by individuals contracted by the then military Authorities to do so.

An insider informed The Value News that this may have emboldened him  why he was not ready to speak further on the issues of the arms procurement. He may have challenged the Lawmakers ‘’ to invite the individuals contracted by the then Military Authorities to supply the arms and ammunition in order   to shed more  light  to the specific issues raised in the   general explanation as contained in the report’’.

Ejiro Ogene, a member of the Commttee from  the oil –rich Delta state who was not happy with the Army chief who  could not honor their first  invitation, insisting that  he has no reason  not to honour the House invitation. ‘’The National Assembly is the House of the Nigerian people’’, noting that everybody in public office are answerable to Nigerians’’, he remarked. It was not therefore, not very surprising why he had said that the Lawmakers speak for Nigerians to force the COAS, to take their future invitations serious.

Many believe that nothing will come out of the House ad-hoc Committee investigation that is reviewing the use of the $1billion arms fund to purchase , use and control of arms, ammunition and other related  hardware by the military, paramilitary, and other Law enforcement agencies in the country. This is because there had been similar investigation  in  the past which report are gathering dust in the  Presidency

.Femi Gbajabiamila, the Speaker of the House of Representatives may have to prove Nigerians wrong when he gets the report from the Committee to ensure that it is implemented by the government and not swept under the carpet.  

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