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Hold former Army Chiefs responsible for arms purchase, General Attahiru tells Reps

Chief of Army Staff (COAS), Lieutenant General. Ibrahim Attahiru, has distanced himself from any wrongdoing in the procurement of arms and ammunition running into billions of naira from 2011 till date.

Appearing before the Olaide Akinremi–– led House of Representatives ad hoc committee investigating the matter in Abuja, the COAS said it behoved the lawmakers to ask “specific individuals” involved in the deals to account for the funds budgeted for procurement of weapons over the years.

The House of Representatives on February 11, 2021 resolved to look into the quality and quantity of arms and ammunition purchased for security agencies in the country for the last 10 years, with a clear inquest into the relevant tools and equipment, as to whether any evidence of existence or not.

The House announced the probe at the inauguration of an ad-hoc committee mandated to review the purchase, use and control of arms, ammunition and related hardware by the military, paramilitary and other law enforcement agencies.

Earlier on December 8, 2020, the House had, through a motion, resolved to mandate the committee to carry out the findings.

In 2019 alone, Nigeria spent an estimated sum of $47.387 million in arms importation.

Though he later recanted, National Security Adviser (NSA), Major General Babagana Monguno (rtd), on Friday March 2021 told the BBC Hausa Service that funds given to former Service Chiefs for arms purchase could not be traced.

On January 25, President Muhammadu Buhari removed the Service Chiefs – Chief of Defence Staff, General Abayomi Olonisakin; Chief of Army Staff, Lieutenant General Tukur Buratai; Chief of Naval Staff, Vice Admiral Ibok Ekwe Ibas; and Chief of Air Staff, Air Marshal Sadique Abubakar.

At the meeting with the House Committee, General Attahiru said: “You may wish to recall that I took over the mantle of leadership barely two months ago. The period from which you wanted this report, having been summarised in the executive summary, explains whatever details you will require. Issues of procurement that you so demand to know were done by specific individuals.

“I will rather you call these individuals to come and explain to you very specific issues. The general issue has been contained in the report and the summary. It goes to speak about the entire report and it explains it.”

Attahiru, whose predecessors included Generals Luka Yusuf, Abdulrahman Dambazau, Kenneth Minimah, Azubuike Ihejirika, and Tukur Buratai, submitted relevant documents to the lawmakers.

He also declined to throw light on the documents he tendered when asked by two members of the panel, Bede Eke and Samson Okwu, in line with legislative practice.

The committee, thereafter, went into a closed session after excusing journalists at 5.40 pm.

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