Emir, Security Experts Blame Arms Saga On Insincerity
THE Emir of Zuru, Maj-Gen. Sani Sami (rtd) has identified insincerity on the part of the Dr. Goodluck Jonathan administration as the main reason why the country is still battling to defeat the Boko Haram insurgency that has claimed many innocent Nigerians.
The emir, who spoke in an exclusive interview with The Guardian in Zuru, Kebbi State said the recent revelation concerning the purchase of military equipment is enough to tell the story on insincerity of the past administration in fighting the insurgency.
To Dr. Ona Ekhomu, a security expert: “Anyone who loots the national treasury, whether for arms deal, road construction projects, power sector projects, ecological projects or anything else deserves to be investigated, arrested, prosecuted and jailed.
“In fact, due to the extremely harmful effects of fraud and corruption on the most vulnerable segments of the Nigerian society, we should adopt the China formula that makes corrupt public officers face the firing squad”.
Sami, a retired General and former military administrator of Bauchi State, said: “You can see how funds meant for the purchase of weapons to assist the military in fighting the insurgency were diverted by some few individuals in the name of politics. I think there was a high level of insincerity.”
He expressed optimism that with the wind of change blowing across the country, the fight against insurgency would soon be over, stressing: “Things are changing quickly. The military were being trained, equipped and motivated to fight and they now know that they have a common enemy and I am sure they will soon win the war against the Boko Haram.”
He described lamented that some politicians who know nothing about weapons were given contracts to purchase arms for the military, adding: “Some of the few military chiefs involved in the deals were very insincere and very greedy. Even during the last administration, there were a lot of lies told to the public about the operation and the equipment on the ground, which were later found to be false and that was why Boko Haram had the upper hand then. But things have changed because we now have a sincere government.
“When President Muhammadu Buhari came on board, he ordered the military command to move to the war zone and now you can see what is happening. The military has taken over the Sambisa Forest. This is what was lacking in the last administration.”
The monarch insisted that it was unnecessary for a National Security Adviser (NSA) to be involved in arms purchase, noting that it is the responsibility of the Minister of Defence to advise the President on what is needed.
He said: “We have the Chief of Army staff, Chief of Air staff, Chief of Naval Staff and then the Chief of Defence Staff, who should be able to work out all these things. So, what happened was done for a purpose and that is why we are having this problem now, because a lot of things were done by unprofessional people, but unfortunately, some few military officers were co-opted into it to be able perfect the stealing of public funds in the name of arms purchase.”
On his part, Ekhomu said the perpetrators should be given Beccarian justice of certainty, celerity and severity of punishment, if found guilty.
But he decried what he called “the current political investigation and trial in the media,” which he said is a sham and is unlikely to yield prosecutorial success in a court of law.
“As is characteristic of our investigative agencies, they make high profile arrests, get a lot of media headlines with tough talk, but fail to build a case that will result in conviction and incapacitation of the offenders.
“So, my feeling is ‘here we go again,’ meaning, this is another round of’witch-hunt,’ media circus, hand-wringing and nail-biting that will probably not result in productive prosecution in the courtroom.”
He went further: “First, the President sets up a panel to investigate suspected arms deals. The panel found evidence of wrongdoings and the President subsequently ordered arrest and prosecution of those involved by anti-corruption agencies.
“Prior to arresting Col. Sambo Dasuki (rtd) and others, one would have expected the investigative agencies to conduct professional and painstaking fraud investigation. Arresting a suspect before commencing an investigation is putting the cart before the horse.”
Ekhomu stated that due to the process complexity in a case like arms deal that crosses national boundaries, using high-level fraud auditing tools would enable investigators uncover sufficient evidence to enable foreign governments cooperate in the detection of the fraud.
On how to curb such in the future, he said: “This particular arms deal investigation is important. For so many years, arms merchants and corrupt government officials have been systematically short-changing Nigerians through arms deals.
He stressed that conducting a good investigation devoid of political sentiments in this case would be helpful, adding if actually cases of fraud are proven and prosecuted with severe punishment meted out, other government officials would hesitate to pilfer arms funds.
The Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC), he noted, must redeem itself through this case by doing a good job that will engender confidence in its abilities as a competent anti-graft agency.
Also speaking on the issue, a retired officer in the Nigerian Army and security consultant, Captain Aliyu Umar told The Guardian yesterday that the mind-boggling revelation emanating from the security fund saga involving former National Security Adviser (NSA) and other prominent Nigerians, should not be allowed to affect the morale of the military troops battling the insurgents.
Aliyu said: “Indeed, official releases concerning huge sums of monies meant for the procurement of arms, linked to the former NSA are quite mind-boggling to say the least. However, properly managed, this should not be allowed to tell on the morale of troops; sons and daughters of Nigeria, who put their lives on the line to make Nigeria strong; not the less so, their families, parents and relations.
“It is quite harrowing to lose loved ones and colleagues; knowing this was avoidable and only informed by the kind of information we are getting requires that the effects on our soldiers’ morale be managed and minimised as much as possible”.
On how military equipment are being procured that gives room for shady deals, the retired military officer said that from all indications, one can see that arms procurement is ex-due-process, and probably a close-group affair.
He said it is obvious from the onset that some few people have been cornering security funds meant to combat the insurgency. “Indicators were rife to this effect. Nigeria tends to play down most of these indicators by politicising simple and straight forward matters until they get very out of hand. We must learn to accept and mend a stitch in time, instead of waiting. As they say, a stitch in time saves nine”.