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Emefiele, Army boss turn down Reps invite on missing $1bn arms funds

By Monsurudeen Olowoopejo

The Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) governor, Godwin Emefiele, and Chief Of Army Staff (COAS), Lieutenant General Ibrahim Attahiru, have turned down the House of Representatives invitation to explain status of $1 billion set aside by Federal Government for the purchase of ammunition to tackle insecurity.

Emefiele and Attahiru were expected to lead heads of other security agencies heads and ministries before the lawmakers to explain if the funds obtained through the Excess Crude Account (ECA) was missing or not and educate the Representatives on position of the ammunition the funds was earmarked for three years ago.

They were invited by the lawmakers to appear before the House 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 in Nigeria, on March 22nd to explain and possibly douse Nigerians tension on the funds.

On Monday, when the CBN governor and COAS were expected to appear before the lawmakers, they did not show up, leaving the lawmakers angered that they turned down their invitation.

To further give the invitees another opportunity to appear before it, the lawmakers summoned them and gave Emefiele and Attahiru till April 7 to appear unfailingly.

READ ALSO: UAE Intercepts Nigerian Procured Ammunition, Other Military Weapons

The summon of Emefiele and COAS came days after the National Security Adviser, Major General Babagana Monguno (retd.), alleged that $1bn funds meant to purchase arms to tackle insurgency during the ex-service chiefs’ tenure was missing, a claim that had attracted reactions from Nigerians.

In a bid to douse tension that had trailed the statement, the Senior Special Assistant to the President on Media and Publicity, Garba Shehu, disclosed that six of the 12 Super Tucanos fighter jets procured from the United States were on track to arrive in mid-July of 2021.

Shehu added that the other six to complete the number acquired from US would arrive in the country at a later date and that 14 Nigerian pilots have been deployed to Moody Air Force Base in Georgia to undergo training on the fighter jets operations.

This assurance came barely three years after the apex government obtained $1 billion from ECA to acquired ammunition and set aside $329 million for the purchase of 12 fighter jets.

Other percentages of the funds jointly approved by the Nigerian Governors Forum (NGF) were said to have been released to arms manufacturers in United Arab Emirate (UAE) and the ammunition was said to have been allegedly intercepted by the government and decided to hold on to procurement from the country.

Shehu, explained that the hangar for the aircraft were already been built in readiness for their arrival, saying five of the jets were already on display and that they were been used to train the 14 Nigerian pilots sent to the US for training.

“The Super Tucanos came off the production line in Jacksonville Florida and are now being equipped and flight tested. Nigerian pilots and maintenance personnel are training on these planes. Currently, the construction is ongoing, which will house the aircraft. The Air-Ground-Integration school is the training hub on targeting and minimization of civilian casualties.

“At present, five Nigerian Super Tucanos are at Moody AFB in Georgia for pilot and maintainer training. The two companies released images of the sixth aircraft, which also will be flown to Moody, in a jungle camouflage scheme.

“The painted jungle scheme NAF A-29 now moves on to mission modification at Moody Air Force Base,” says SNC. “Following modification, before delivery, NAF pilots and maintenance personnel will further train in the aircraft.”

“In November 2018, SNC was awarded a $329 million Foreign Military Sales contract from the US government to build 12 A-29s for the Nigerian air force. The armed turboprops are intended for use against Boko Haram and Islamic State militants”, the special adviser added.

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