Subscribe Us

header ads

Controversy: NSA claims arms funds missing, recants under pressure

Controversy ensued on Friday after the National Security Adviser, Major General Babagana Monguno (retd.), alleged that $1bn funds meant to purchase arms to tackle insurgency during the ex-service chiefs’ tenure got missing.

This comes over a month after the ex-service chiefs’ resignation and replacement by the President, Major General Muhammadu Buhari (retd).

The ex-service chiefs are the Chief of Defence Staff, General Abayomi Olonisakin (retd.); Chief of Army Staff, Lt Gen Tukur Buratai (retd.); Chief of Naval Staff, Vice Admiral Ibok Ekwe Ibas (retd.); and Chief of Air Staff, Air Marshal Sadique Abubakar (retd.).

They resigned from their positions on January 26 after intense calls by many Nigerians over their perceived failure to tackle widespread insecurity across the country.

They were retired and immediately replaced by the President, who thereafter designated them as non-career ambassadors.

However, Monguno, in an interview with the Hausa Service of the British Broadcasting Corporation early Friday, alleged that neither the funds nor the weapons the ex-service chiefs were meant to buy could be traced.

According to him, the President will soon order a probe into the matter.

In response to a question on why the Buhari regime was foot-dragging in the fight against banditry, Monguno said, “The President has done his best by approving huge sums of money for the purchase of weapons, but the weapons were not bought, they are not here. Now, he has appointed new service chiefs, hopefully, they will devise some ways.

“I’m not saying the former service chiefs diverted the money, but the money is missing. We don’t know how, and nobody knows for now. I believe Mr President will investigate where the money went.”

Monguno added that the Nigerian Governors’ Forum was also wondering where all the funds meant for arms went.

He said, “I can assure you the President takes issues of this nature seriously.

“The fact is that preliminary investigation showed the funds are missing and the equipment is nowhere to be found.

“When the new service chiefs assumed office, they also said they didn’t see anything on the ground.”

However, in a statement by his office later on Friday, the NSA recanted his earlier allegations, saying he was quoted out of context.

While he admitted granting the BBC interview under reference, he denied saying funds meant for the purchase of arms had gone missing.

The statement read in part, “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 providing all necessary support to the armed forces, including the provision of arms and equipment.”

The NSA said in the interview, he 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 said he informed the reporter that, “Mr President is following up on the procurement process as it’s usual with contracts relating to military equipment. In most cases, the process involves manufacturing, due diligence and tedious negotiations that may change delivery dates.”

The National Assembly had in 2018 approved a request by President Buhari, for the withdrawal of $1bn from the Excess Crude Account for the purchase of weapons to fight insurgency.

Buhari had earlier told the National Assembly that he already ordered the payment of $496m to the United States government for the purchase of 12 Tucano aircraft ahead of legislative approval.

Several members of the Senate and House of Representatives had at various times in 2018 described the anticipatory approval as an impeachable offence.

The House, particularly on November 27, 2018, resolved to investigate the finances of the Nigerian military, including how the $1bn was spent, as well as the implementation of releases to the military under the 2018 Appropriation Act.

Also speaking hours later on Friday, the Presidency said no fund was missing under the watch of the immediate past service chiefs, adding that procurements had been made for military weapons but the arms had yet to be delivered.

According to the Senior Special Assistant to the President on Media and Publicity, Garba Shehu, missing funds can’t happen under the regime of the President.

Shehu spoke on Friday on Channels Television’s ‘Politics Today’, monitored by Saturday PUNCH.

Shehu said the NSA was misquoted, stressing that Monguno did not accuse the ex-service chiefs of misappropriation of funds.

He said, “About the $1bn taken from the Excess Crude Account with the consent of state governors used for military procurements, I want to assure you that nothing of that money is missing.



Post a Comment