Alleged $1bnN Arms Deal: Civil Rights group exonerates ex-service chiefs, challenges defence ministry to come out clean

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A group of civil society organizations numbering thirty-five have challenged the Ministry of Defence to stop the hide and seek game and come out clean on the issues surrounding the procurement of ammunition with the one billion dollar alleged to have been carted away. It will be recalled that the National Security Adviser, Maj. General Babangana Monguno was quoted to have alleged that ex service chiefs have not accounted for the amount in question and arms are not on ground to show for the Money, although the NSA had since denied making such statement.

Concerned by this development, the House of Representatives set up a probe panel to look into the regime of arms purchase in the last ten year’s. During one of its sitting, the incumbent Chief of Army Staff, Lt. Gen Attahiru further compounded the issue when he was answering questions from the lawmakers and requested the committee to invite the former service chiefs to provide answers to the questions since he was not the COAS that supretended over the purchase.

Dissatisfied with the turn of events, a group of thirty-five registered civil society organizations under the auspices of Coalition of Civil Society Organizations in Nigeria have condemned the action of the Chief of Army Staff, silence of the defence ministry and conspiracy of a section of the media, stressing that the entire agenda might be a plan to tarnish the image of the immediate past service chiefs whom they claimed have served the nation with diligence and commitment and should not be subjected to needless embarrassment, saying that the Ministry of Defence knows the truth and can conveniently furnish the probe panel with every information needed.
The group tasks the Chief of Army Staff to be extremely cautious, professional and civil in his approach to important issue as the one at hand, stating that the former Chief of ArmyStaff did proper handing over and since government is a continuoum he should be civil and professional enough to answer the questions without asking for his predecessors to be invited.

Reading the press text on behalf of the Coalition, Comrade Tijanni Abdul says that even though the National Security Adviser who was alleged to have mentioned the issue has since denied it, the House of Representatives still went ahead to constitute a probe panel, an action he said raises suspicion. Comrade Tijjani says though it is the constitutional right of the National Assembly to probe, he said the Hose of Representatives and other stakeholders must demonstrate outright fairness and allow only the truth to prevail, he said the CSOs will keep monitoring the process keenly to ensure the retired service chiefs are not deliberately blackmailed.

While answering questions, Dr Peter Amenebo, President Transparency and Accountability in Leadership Initiative and member of the Coalition says it is unfortunate that politics has been introduced into the matter, saying that the process and outcome of the probe will be an integrity test for the House of Representatives, he alleged that the entire drama suggests that some individuals are behind the scene instigating the plans to implicate the ex service chiefs. He argued that the ex service chiefs have contributed immensely towards the peace we enjoy today and shouldn’t be blackmailed, he said such action will demoralise serving officers in the military

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