The House of Representatives, on Monday, expressed deep concern over the lukewarm attitude of some top government officials of the ongoing investigation into the purchase of $1billion to fight insurgency activities in the country and summoned the Governor of the Central Bank of Nigeria, CBN, Mr Godwin Emefiele, and the Chief of Army Staff, COAS, Lt. Gen. Ibrahim Attahiru, to appear before a special Committee to answer queries over the purchase of arms.
The House Adhoc-Committee Committee being chaired by Hon Olaide Akinremi (APC, Oyo), currently investigating the purchase of arms and ammunition for the military and paramilitary in Nigeria handed down the order while expressing its displeasure over the refusal by the CBN Governor and the Chief of Army Staff, Gen Ibrahim Atahiru, to appear before it.
The duo were ordered to appear before the House on April 7, 2021, by 2 pm
This decision was taken at the meeting of the House Ad-hoc Committee on the need to review the purchase, use and control of arms, ammunition and related hardware by the military, paramilitary and other law enforcement agencies in Nigeria.
Others to appear alongside the duo are the Ministry of Finance, Bureau for Public Procurement, Ministry of Defence, and Ministry of Interior.
Gen Attahiru had sent a representative, Major General C. Ofuche, at the committee’s last sitting, but this was rejected by the members.
Members of the committee said the issue was a serious and sensitive one and needed the COAS to address them in person.
The motion to take a hard stand on the agencies beginning with a summon was moved by Hon Bede Eke, from Imo eliciting overwhelming support of other members, even as the committee chairman tried to tone down the resolution.
While moving the motion, Hon Bede said: “Mr Chairman, distinguished colleagues, I think we have got to a situation where we really have to take a very hard stand on this matter, the last time the Representative of the Chief of Army staff came, we told him that the Chief of Army Staff should appear in person, at least to come and deposit the documents requested by this Committee because he is the man in charge of that agency.
“Mr Chairman, CBN has been a problem to this House and they cannot operate the way they are operating because we approved that budget and this House will keep quiet. They think they can do it all the time and get away with it. By the way, what are we asking for? Come and tell us how much you have paid for the purchase of arms. We have given you the right to a fair hearing, are you hiding anything? We will not allow it, if there something you are hiding because you are CBN, we will not allow it
“People are killed every day, Mr Chairman, I want to move a motion, let me stop at this but I want this House and this Ad-hoc Committee, we don’t have time and we come here every day and we seat 3-4 hours waiting for a government agency, I want to move a motion that we summon, especially Chief of Army Staff and CBN, enough is enough, the CBN Governor and the Chief of Army Staff must be summoned, that is when they will know we are serious.”
The Chairman of the Committee, Hon Akinremi, who is versatile on security matters did all he could to play down the summoning aspect of the motion but all to no avail as members vehemently insisted the summon must remain.
Also speaking earlier after the chairman’s opening remark, Hon Samson Okwu, (PDP, Benue), said:
“It’s very disheartening to see that this Committee that was set up by Mr Speaker to review the purchase of arms and ammunition to the military and we also know that we have been having sittings during which you said that we will not leave any stone unturned.”
“And here we are waiting to see the people from agencies such as the CBN to come and brief this Committee regarding its roles in the alleged arm purchase and they are nowhere to be found.
“The CBN should know that as a responsible agency created by law, the National Assembly has the powers to demand explanations on any fund spent on behalf of Nigerians
“But it’s unfortunate that the CBN did not turn up and yet didn’t deem it fit to write officially to explain or ask for an extension. I think it’s high time we made use of our constitutional powers to compel them to appear before us.”
The investigative hearing was then adjourned till April 7 by 2 00 pm.