BEVERLY HILLS, May 04, (THEWILL) – Rivers State’s Governor Nyesom Wike has challenged President Muhammadu Buhari to account for the $1 billion withdrawn sometime ago from the Excess Crude Account for the purpose of purchasing arms for the fight against insecurity.
Speaking during an interview on Channels Television’s ‘Newsnight” on Monday, the Governor asked the President to hold officials accountable for their actions.
The National Economic Council had on December 15, 2017 agreed to utilise $1billion from Nigeria’s excess crude account to tackle the Boko Haram insurgency and other security challenges.
The meeting, which was chaired by Vice President Yemi Osinbajo, had the 36 state governors in attendance and it came as they pledged to support the Federal Government to rid the North-East of the insurgents.
Four years after, several questions have been raised by many, including Wike regarding the purchase of the equipment, especially as insecurity has worsened since then.
“I remember there was a time when $1 billion was taken from the Excess Crude Account to provide for security. Where is the equipment that we bought?” Wike questioned. “If I should release that money as the Chief Security Officer, knowing how Nigeria is, I will make sure that those weapons and the right ones were bought.”
Wike also reacted to the decision of the House of Representatives to summon the Chief of Army Staff, Lieutenant General Ibrahim Attahiru, and the Governor of the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN), Godwin Emefiele, over the procurement of arms.
He also faulted the response of the Army Chief over the arms purchase during his appearance before the lower chamber.
Wike added, “I was surprised when I was watching the television when the House of Representatives invited the Chief of Army Staff about the purchase of weapons and he said, ‘Look, you know the right people to ask.’
“You have to take leadership. Even if those who were at the helms of affairs of security, the onus is on you, you can still summon them back.”
Wike’s remarks come about three weeks after tension ensued between the House ad-hoc Committee on Arms and Ammunition and the Army General following an ongoing investigation into arms purchases by the military.
Things took a different turn when the Chief of Army Staff refused to speak further on a document he had presented to the committee, asking the members instead to review the documents he considered self-explanatory.
The Chief of Army Staff insisted that he had barely settled into office and was not the right person to speak on arms and ammunition purchased by his predecessors.
He told them: “Issues of arms procurement that you so demand to know were done by specific individuals, I will rather you call these individuals to explain to you very specific issues; the general explanation is contained in this report.
“The submission before you speaks to the report before you. It is an executive summary. It is very self-explanatory to the extent that it has been pluralised. When you demanded this report, you stated a specific period for which you wanted it.
“You may wish to recall that the Chief of Army Staff took over the mantle of leadership barely two months ago.
“The period for which you want this report having been summarised in the executive summary explained whatever details you require.”