Lieutenant-General Ibrahim Attahiru, the Chief of Army Staff, has told the House of Representatives that he cannot answer questions on the $1 billion arms procurement because he did not sign off the payment.
Attahiru stated his point during a tension-soaked hearing of the House’s ad-hoc committee on Arms and Ammunition investigating the purchase of arms by the military at the National Assembly on Tuesday.
Drama ensured when the Chief of Army Staff, refused to speak further on a document which he had presented to the committee, asking the committee instead to review the documents which he considered self-explanatory.
According to him, he had barely settled into office and is definitely not the right person to speak on arms and ammunition purchased by his predecessors.
“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.
“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 COAS told the lawmakers.
Attahiru’s comments, however, infuriated Ejiro Ogene, a member of the committee from Delta State, who had earlier during the proceedings frowned at the COAS explanation for not appearing before the committee.
Ogene insisted that the National Assembly is the House of the Nigerian people and everybody in public office works for Nigerians, adding that the House speaks for the people.
“When we ask you to come, the people are the ones speaking, sovereignty lies in the people; if we see it like this, things will be different.
“I expect that the COAS tenders an apology, not an explanation; you are serving the people and they are as your employer,” he said.
The COAS in response said his explanation serves as an apology.
“When you say I offered an explanation, it is as good as an apology. It only tells you the reasons why I wasn’t here and the reasons are pungent enough,” COAS told the lawmakers.
With the bickering between Attahiru and the lawmaker becoming more evident, Chairman of the Committee, Olaide Akinremi, ruled that the hearing would go into a closed-door meeting and asked the media to leave the room.
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