Jude Johnson with Nasir Ayitogo of PT
The National Assembly has in response to public pressures, resolved to constitute an ad-hoc committee to investigate the utilisation of all funds appropriated for the Nigerian armed forces.
The resolution followed a motion brought under matters of urgent national importance by the deputy minority leader in the Federal House of Representatives, Hon. Chukwuka Onyema, at plenary on Tuesday.
No fewer than 118 Nigerian soldiers of the 157 Battalion were massacred by Boko Haram insurgents who now call themselves Islamic State West Africa on November 18, 2018 at the village of Metele, Borno State.
The initial figures of casualty were put at 44 but as more details emerged, it is now confirmed at least118 soldiers and officers were killed with their commanding officer, Ibrahim Sakaba, while about 150 more soldiers and officers are still missing.
Moving the motion, Onyema noted that according to reports, the insurgents carted away a large cache of weapons from the Melete army base which security experts say would embolden them and pose a great danger to Nigeria.
He noted that while the news of the attack and death toll continued to increase, the president and commander-in-chief, the minister of defence or the army authorities did not say anything about the report for more than five days.
“The President and C-in-C finally broke his silence six days after the attack in a statement issued on his behalf,” the lawmaker noted.
“In the last one year, not fewer than 600 Nigerian soldiers have been killed by insurgents mostly in Borno State around the fringes of the Lake Chad.”
Mr Onyema recalled several other attacks on the military which he said questions the competence of the armed forces.
“On June 18, 2018, Boko Haram attack in Gajiram, Borno State led to the death of civilians and soldiers. On July 13, 2018, Boko Haram ambushed and killed soldiers at Alagaye village near Bama, Borno State and carted away nine gun trucks.
“On July 14, 2018, Boko Haram attacked at the 81 division Forward Brigade at Jilli village in Geidam Local Government Area of Yobe state and killed scores of soldiers,” he listed amongst others.
Contributing to the debate, Zakari Mohammed (Kwara, PDP), said the way the attacks were being coordinated indicated a lack of synergy between the armed forces, adding that there seemed to be a competition amongst them.
“For the first time, the police and DDS are on their own,” he said.
“The monies they have been appropriating, what has been happening to them? We should bring them to the NASS to tell us where the problem is.”
Mr Mohammed alleged the authorities go for low quality ammunition and get defeated at the end of the day.
Also lending his voice to the debate, Abdulsammad Dasuki (Sokoto, PDP), said the Nigerian armed forces used to be the pride of Africa but the recent attacks have proven otherwise.
Mr Dasuki who is the chairman of the house committee on Navy also attributed the attacks to lack of adequate personnel In the armed forces.
“In the last three years, the number of recruitments in the armed forces are nothing to write home about. The combined armed forces are not up to 200,000. The issue of manpower is paramount for these young men to secure us.”
He said in the last three years, not a single person has been sacked for not doing his job, adding that service chiefs have not lived up to expectations.
Mr Dasuki said President Buhari has failed Nigerians in that aspect and urged Nigerians to do the needful.
“It will not be wrong to say that the Commander – in – Chief has failed us. The man that says he will bring the killers to book (but) has not done so. If he doesn’t bring them to book then it is high time we Nigerians bring them to book.”
The House also resolved to investigate the operational lapses that led to the killings of the soldiers and urged the military to after due consultation with families of the fallen heroes publish their names.
In a similar vein, the House passed for a second reading, a bill for an act to Provide for Establishment of the Bureau of Military Veterans Affairs that will make Provisions for the Benefits and Welfare of Military Veterans and their Dependents; and for Related Matters.
The bill was sponsored by Akeem Adeyemi (Oyo, APC).
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