Fireworks as Army Chief face Reps over arms purchase

Fireworks and fierce exchange dominated the day as Chief of Army Staff, Lt.-Gen. Ibrahim Attahiru, appeared before the House of Representatives Ad Hoc Committee on the Need to Review the Purchase, Use and Control of Arms, Ammunition and Related Hardware by Military, Paramilitary and Other Law Enforcement Agencies on Monday.

The committee had earlier invited Attahiru and Governor of the Central Bank of Nigeria, Godwin Emefiele, on the 22nd of March and the 7th of April respectively to answer questions on the procurement of arms and ammunition.

During Attahiru’s appearance on Monday, the lawmakers demanded an apology from him. The COAS, however, declined to tender the apology saying he was unable to make it to the summons due to different engagements over internal security.

Attahiru said, “I have earlier been invited to come before you. Due to exigency of duty, it was not possible. I was either in the North-East to serve Nigeria or in the South-South, trying to ensure stability within Nigeria.

“An explanation is as good as an apology. Even a blind man knows that there are internal security challenges in the country. The same way you work for the people, that is the same way I work for the people. I have a command under me and they are also Nigerians.

However, a member of the committee, Francis Waive, said, “This 9th house has done a lot for the security of this country, not only on budgetary provisions but has made every legislative provision available for security to be well taken care of in this country.

“So, one would have expected that today that you are able to honour this invitation, there would have been something that sounds like an apology for not being able to make it all along. But what we have gotten is an explanation.”

Waive also asked the COAS to explain the delay in the submission of the last set of documents from the Nigerian Army.

Responding, Attahiru said, “We are partners in progress. When you say I offered an explanation, it is as good as an apology. It only tells you the reason I was not here and the reasons are cogent enough.”

Another member of the committee, Preye Oseke also stated that the COAS was expected to make a presentation of the documents submitted by his office.

Responding, Attahiru stated that the second set of documents was self-explanatory as they were an executive summary. He also noted that he was less than two months in office, while the period being reviewed by the lawmakers exceeds the duration.

At a point, the Chairman of the committee, Olaide Akintemi, had to intervene by asking journalists and aides to leave the venue of the meeting which later ended abruptly about 10mins later.

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