By Kingsley Omonobi
ABUJA — There is palpable tension in the military while fear has gripped loyalists and former aides of Chiefs of Army Staff who held sway from 2010 to May 20, 2015. This follows the setting up of a panel by Chief of Army Staff, Lt-Gen. Tukur Buratai, to probe his predecessors over how billions of dollars were spent on arms purchase and logistics during their tenure.
Vanguard was told, weekend, that the army boss, who took over from Lt.0-Gen. KTJ Minimah, decided to institute the investigation panel after carrying out a preliminary inventory of army weaponry needed to combat the Boko Haram menace and other security challenges, and discovered that what was available was a far cry from what should have been in stock.
Consequently, Vanguard gathered that the eight-man panel headed by a Brigadier General with four Colonels and three Lieutenant Colonels as members will investigate all armament equipment most of which were denominated in dollars, including armoured tanks, artillery weaponry and other logistics bought by the Nigerian Army from 2010 to 2015.
Since the outbreak of the violent Boko Haram insurgency in 2009, the Federal Government had consistently increased budgetary provisions for the army on a yearly basis with a view to acquiring sophisticated weapons, logistic support and needed training to ensure the security challenges were tackled.
Terms of reference
The panel is expected to go round all the army’s armament depots across the country, take inventory of specific arms, compare types and quality of arms with actual recommendation, approval and amount of money released for the purchase as well as what was bought.
In doing this, the panel is to find out the names of the contractors who executed the jobs and supplied the equipment and at what cost. The panel will also ascertain why some of the arms purchase contracts whose monies have been collected were not done and at what level those implementing contracts have reached.
Expatiating more on the investigation, the source said there is no link between the probe being carried out by the Chief of Army Staff and the general probe ordered by President Muhammadu Buhari whose committee is sitting at the office of the National Security Adviser.
Other reasons Vanguard gathered which influenced the decision of General Buratai to set up the investigation panel, include revelations which came out during the battle to dislodge Boko Haram terrorists that subsequently led to thousands of soldiers deserting their commission and so many abandoning their duty posts and running away from terrorists.
It was gathered that many of the weapons failed to respond in the frontline, armoured tanks broke down while many could not shoot. Aside this, many logistics equipment deployed refused or failed to work in very critical periods where soldiers were face-to-face with armed terrorists.
In some cases, there are documentation showing that some of the arms were purchased and have been taken to certain locations but these arms are nowhere to be found and nobody could render account.
The panel is expected to complete its assignment and submit its report to the Chief of Army Staff by November.