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Osinbajo To Military: Account For Security Expenditure

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Vice President, Prof. Yemi Osinbajo

Vice President Yemi Osinbajo has underscored the need for transparency in the management of resources meant for the acquisition of hardware for the defence and security agencies.

He spoke late Wednesday during a virtual interaction after receiving a presentation on “Defence Transformation and National Security: Strategic Options for Nigeria of the Future”, by the National Defence College Course 30 participants.

Daily Trust reports that Nigeria is facing a myriad of Foundation opens entry for Oxford scholarships challenges like terrorism, banditry, kidnapping for ransom and agitations for secession, among others.

Security breaches are ripe across all the six geopolitical zones including the Federal Capital Territory (FCT) as symbol of authority is being desecrated and civilians and security operatives killed.

While the federal government had been budgeting billions of naira on defence and security, experts believed the manner in which the resources are being spent is questionable; hence the call for transparency and in some cases probe.

In his presentation to the participants of the Defence College, the vice president said, “There needs to be more accountability because every time you hear about ‘we not having enough equipment,’ but there must be accountability.

“I will like to see a framework for greater accountability within the Ministry of Defence that ensures that they are able to account for military expenditure,” he said in a statement issued Thursday by his spokesman, Laolu Akande.

He said Nigeria’s current security challenges and emerging threats required the military and other relevant stakeholders to be several steps ahead of perpetrators while also stepping up local production of armaments.

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According to him, “If you look at the challenges that we are facing and the nature of those challenges, it is evident that we need to be many steps ahead of non-state actors in particular who are perpetrators of this asymmetric warfare that we are experiencing.”

Prof. Osinbajo, while commending the course participants for their efforts in proposing innovations in the defence sector, stressed the urgency of the local production of arms.

“If we say the local companies should produce some of the mobile platforms like Armoured Personnel Carriers (APCs) and Multi-Role Armoured Vehicle (MRAV), if we give them the contracts, they will produce, but if we choose to import rather than produce locally then we will never develop our military-industrial complex.”

Earlier in a presentation on behalf of the Course 30 participants, Col. A. A. Adamu proposed, among other things, the restructuring of the Ministry of Defence to reflect contemporary challenges as well as contain emerging threats to defence and security.

Other officials present at the event included the Chief of Staff to the President, Prof. Ibrahim Gambari; Chief of Naval Staff, Vice Admiral Awwal Gambo; the Commandant of the National Defence College, Rear Adm. Murtala Bashir, and representative of the Inspector General of Police, among other senior officers from the college.

Research report presentation by course participants to the vice president is a prominent feature in the annual academic calendar of the National Defence College.

Every year since 2016, participants of the college have presented reports of research conducted in key areas to the vice president.

Daily Trust reports that the specifics on the budget and other allocations to the defence sector are rarely made public amid outcry by troops for more equipment to confront the enemy.

There have been controversies about some releases to the security establishments.

For instance, on December 14, 2017, Nigerian governors approved the release of $1bn from the country’s excess oil account to the federal government to buy arms for the effective execution of the Boko Haram war.

The approval reportedly reduced the $2.3bn Excess Crude Account by half, a development that generated heated debate with some analysts saying the money would be stolen.

At the time of the release, Edo State Governor, Godwin Obaseki, who briefed the press on the decision after the meeting of the National Economic Council (NEC), said the money would cover the whole array of needs, which included the purchase of equipment, training for military personnel and logistics.

However, in 2019, the National Security Adviser (NSA), Maj. Gen. Babagana Monguno (retd), said a huge amount of money approved for arms purchase under the ex-service chiefs could not be accounted for.

For instance, Gen Monguno cried out that he did not know the whereabouts of the $1bn approved by the governors.

The NSA office later issued a statement saying Monguno did not say money was missing.

The Presidency also reacted saying the funds allocated for procurement of weapons during the time of the former service chiefs were not missing, adding that procurements had been made but the arms were yet to be delivered.

The service chiefs were Gen Abayomi Olonisakin (Chief of Defence Staff-CDS); Tukur Buratai (Chief of Army Staff-COAS)); Ibok-Ete Ekwe Ibas (Chief of Naval Staff-CNS); Sadique Abubakar (Chief of Air Staff-CAS).

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The Senior Special Assistant to the President on Media and Publicity, Garba Shehu, said there was no way funds could disappear under the leadership of President Muhammadu Buhari.

He also said the NSA was misquoted, stressing that Monguno did not accuse the ex-service chiefs of misappropriation of funds.

Shehu said, “About the $1bn taken from the Excess Crude Account with the consent of state governors used for military procurements, I want to assure you that nothing of that money is missing.

“The reference by it in the interview of the BBC Hausa Service by the National Security Adviser has been misconstrued and mistranslated. NSA made two critical points -one is that we don’t have enough weapons, which is a statement of facts, and two procurements made have not been fully delivered.

“At no point did the NSA say that money has been misappropriated and that no arms seen. They have not been delivered, that is correct; these are things you don’t get off the shelves,” Shehu said.

Non-transparent military spending can create war economy – Expert

Speaking on the implication of the vice president’s demand, a financial crimes expert, Umar Yakubu, explained that non-transparency in military spending could cause a war economy.

“There is a need for more transparency in military spending because if we don’t, we are going to create a war economy where we will not be able to continue sustaining the corruption and where the war will not finish. That is one of the reasons insecurity has not gone down,” Yakubu said.

He stressed that Nigerians would have more confidence in the military and the work they do if they halt the current secrecy regarding their spending.

“If you look all over the world, one area where there seems to be lack of transparency and opaqueness is the military sector in relation to their expenditure.

“Most governments hide under the cover of insecurity to tell you that they are not going to disclose how much they are spending on insecurity.

He said for the vice president to call for more transparency, speaks volumes.

“If you look at the trajectory from 2017 to 2021, the military budget has been increasing by a minimum of N500 million every year. If I am correct, it is over N2trn now – just to the military.

“If you crosscheck with what the minister of finance said, their releases are high, it is not just only about their budget. The releases are high, maybe up to 90%.

“Now, if there is so much heavy military expenditure and when you ask them, they will tell you that they lack equipment, so what is the problem? Where does the problem lie?” he asked.

Efforts to reach the Director, Defence Information, Maj.-Gen. Jimmy Akpor proved abortive as calls to his mobile phone did not connect before filing this report.

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Lagos corporal beats up senior officer over traffic

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Lagos State Police Public Relations Officer, Benjamin Hundeyin

There was a mild drama on Saturday at the Simbiat Abiola Way, Ikeja, Lagos State, as a police corporal assaulted his superior during an argument.

PUNCH Metro gathered that the yet-to-be-identified corporal had confronted the superior officer, who was identified as Supol Edgar, for allegedly causing traffic at the junction linking the Awolowo Way.

This led to an argument, as the corporal punched Edgar.

Our correspondent learnt that the policeman did not know Edgar was a police officer who resided in a barracks close to the scene.

During the confrontation, Edgar reportedly reached out to his colleagues in the barracks, who stormed out and bundled the policeman into their premises.

Our correspondent, who was at the scene of the incident, observed as the corporal was forcefully dragged into the police barracks.

An eyewitness, who identified himself only as Stanley for security reasons, said the problem was caused by a tricycle rider, who tried to navigate through some vehicles at the junction.

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He said, “The Supol tried to caution a tricycle rider who tried to make his way past some vehicles and that led to the traffic jam. But when the corporal saw what was happening, he angrily rushed out of his car to confront him for causing a delay. That was how the argument started between them and even when the senior officer was telling him that he was also a police officer, he did not hear him out, as he kept on slapping and punching him. That was when the Supol called someone in the barracks and they came to carry him.”

A traffic warden, who was at the spot and begged not to be identified because he was not authorised to speak on the matter, said the officer did not reveal his identity on time before the matter escalated.

He said, “I was controlling traffic when I saw a man arguing with someone in the tricycle. I approached him to know what was happening but he refused to answer me. I left him to continue what I was doing. It was later that I saw that traffic had started building up and by the time I went back to check what caused it, I saw both of them dragging each other.”

Our correspondent also observed that before the corporal was taken into the barracks, he was stripped of his clothes and asked to kneel, while other senior officers in the barracks gathered around him.

Edgar threatened to lock him up at the Area F Police Command.

The Lagos State Police Public Relations Officer, Benjamin Hundeyin, said he was not aware of the incident.

He promised to respond after making enquiries. He had yet to do so as of the time of filing this report.

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Just In: Bandits kill three, abduct scores in Taraba

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Inspector-General of Police, Usman Baba

Bandits on Sunday night attacked and killed three persons while scores were reportedly abducted by the attackers in Bali town, the headquarters of Bali Local Government Area of Taraba State.

Several sources in Bali told our correspondent on the phone that the attackers who rode on motorcycles attacked and killed personnel of Taraba Marshall at a checkpoint near General Hospital before proceeding to individual houses to kill and abduct people.

The Tiv central leader and Chief of Tiv in Bali, Zaki David Gbaa (Ter Tiv Bali II) told our correspondent that two of his subjects were killed and scores, mostly women, were abducted in the attack.

“The attackers invaded the town at about 11: pm. Two of my subjects were killed in the attack, and two others who were badly injured are receiving treatment in the hospital.

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“Many people, especially women, were abducted. It’s a terrible situation and I want to call on the government and security agencies to sit up and ensure the protection of the lives and property of citizens.

“For over four hours, the bandits held the town shooting sporadically and there was no response from security agencies. People are losing hope of the government’s ability to protect them and I think the bandits are no more than our security agencies,” he said.

This is even as the traditional ruler called on the government to support the injured who are receiving treatment in hospitals.

The attack came barely three days after bandits blocked the Mutum-Biyu- Garba Chede road killing a driver and abducting passengers in the neighbouring Gassol Local Government area of the state.

Efforts to get the Police to react to the attack failed as the Taraba State Police Public Relations Officer, Abdullahi Usman, did not pick up calls made to his line.

But a police officer in the Taraba State Police Command told our correspondent that the PPRO was attending a security briefing.

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NAF Fighter Jet Kills Banditry Kingpin, Followers In Katsina

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A notorious banditry kingpin, Abdulkareem Lawal alias Faca-faca, and many of his followers have been killed in airstrikes by the Nigerian Air Force (NAF) fighter jets on some bandits’ enclaves in Safana Local Government Area of Katsina State.

Our correspondent learnt that the raids were carried out in the evening.

The Police Public Relations Officer (PPRO) in the state, Gambo Isah, confirmed on Sunday that eight suspected bandits including Faca-faca were killed during the raid.

 He also said the police Saturday night raided a terrorists’ hideout at Unguwar Dako, Tandama village in Danja Local Government Area of the state where they rescued six kidnapped victims. 

Isah gave the names of the rescued victims as Alhaji Garba DanMallam, 52; Rabiu Idris, 45; and Abba Samaila, 38, who are all residents of Unguwar Nuhu. 

Others are Yunusa Sani, 54; Ishaq Yakub, 40; and Danjuma Samaila, 45, all residents of Layin Sani village, Kafur. 

Meanwhile, bandits have killed two members of a local vigilante group and abducted a newlywed couple and other residents of Shola Quarters in the Katsina metropolis. 

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Residents said the bandits invaded the area around 1:25am and operated for over an hour. 

One of the sources said, “It was the vigilante members that even confronted the bandits but in the process, two of them were killed and two others wounded.” 

He explained that the vigilante members had to retreat for their safety when the bandits overpowered them. 

He said it was later that one body was retrieved while one of the injured persons rushed to the hospital died. 

Explaining how the newlywed couple was kidnapped, a relative, Usman Masanawa, said the husband, Yusuf Bishir, called to inform him of the attack but there was nothing he could do.

“We went there this morning; the bandits did not even enter the house through the entrance gate but they smashed the wall and got access into the house,” Masanawa said. 

He added that the number of residents abducted could not be ascertained but other residents said some houses were attacked and people abducted. 

When contacted, the PPRO who responded via WhatsApp message, said officers were on an operation (on the matter) and would communicate details later. 

In another attack, bandits abducted 13 people from Natsinta village, in Jibia Local Government Area, which is a few hundred metres from the army barracks in Katsina. 

A resident, whose uncle and two of his children were abducted, said the bandits had earlier abducted 26 people but when they got to where they parked their motorcycles, they took 13 with them and left the others.

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