By Levinus Nwabughiogu-Abuja
House of Representatives on Tuesday rescinded its earlier resolution to close the books on the probe of arms and ammunitions purchased in the last 10 years.
Consequently, it has allotted a fresh period of two weeks to the “Ad–hoc Committee on the Need to Review the Purchase, Use and Control of Arms, Ammunitions, and Related Hardware by Military, Paramilitary and other Law Enforcement Agencies in Nigeria”, handling the investigation to conclude its assignment and report back to the House.
It will be recalled that the Committee was among the 12 Ad-hoc ones discharged on May 5, 2021 by the leave of the House.
But realizing the importance of the investigation, the House via a motion by the Chairman, Committee on Rules and Business, Hon. Abubakar Fulata at Tuesday plenary rescinded its decision and granted the extension of time.
Fulata said: “On Wednesday, 5 May 2021 twelve (12) Ad–hoc Committees were discharged of the referral made to them, one of which was the Ad–hoc Committee on the Need to Review the Purchase, Use and Control of Arms, Ammunitions, and Related Hardware by Military, Paramilitary and other Law Enforcement Agencies in Nigeria.
“On the same date, the Ad–hoc Committee met and adopted its Report which was consequently presented as an interim report on Thursday, 6 May 2021.
“The subject matter being investigated is of serious concern as it affects the readiness of Nigeria’s Security Agencies to combat terrorism and banditry”.
The implication of the extension is that any former service chiefs found culpable in the purchase of arms and ammunitions in the period under review would be questioned.
It will also enable the Committee to prepare and submit a comprehensive final report and make appropriate recommendations.
It will be recalled that the current Chief of Army Staff, COAS, Attahiru Ibrahim while meeting with the Committee recently told the members to invite certain individuals who held the office before him.
Asked whether former Army Chiefs such as Generals Azubuike Ihejirika and Tukur Buratai would be invited, the sponsor of the motion that necessitated the probe, Hon. Bede Eke said that it was possible to meet with them if available documents implicated them of any culpability.
“The present chief of army staff promised to get us documents. By the time we look at those documents, whoever that’s mentioned in the lady 10 years under the period in review, then we know. Of course, it is in the last 10 years. Let’s know how much has gone in.
“If in the last 10 years, they are part of the hierarchy of the army, you have to come. Just come and tell us what you know. Is there anything there? We talk about transparency and accountability, this is taxpayers money. You were asked to go and purchase arms. So, come and tell us how you purchased and the things you purchased. These things are to secure Nigerians and their properties. So, why are the terrorists having more sophisticated weapons? Is it that they are richer than the country? We want to know. Tell us.
“By the time we look at your documents, interact with you, and probably realize we made a mistake in the appointment of the former service chiefs, we can recommend to the Executive and say as chief of army staff you must have this experience and so on. All we are looking at is how to curb these problems we have. It’s everywhere. We call it Boko Haram, IPOB, banditry and whatever name. It is everywhere. Nobody is safe”, Eke said.