May 1, 2021
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Presidency Cabal Jittery over $1Bn Arms Fund Probe, Plots NSA Sack
*FILE: NSA to President Muhammadu Buhar, Maj-Gen. Monguno (rtd) in a chat with new service chiefs

The cold war between the Presidency cabal and the National Security Adviser, NSA, Babagana Monguno, a retired Major-General, over who controls the nation’s security apparatchik seems to be gathering more steam with some members of the cabal pushing to ensure that the NSA is kicked out by President Muhammadu Buhari.

Those familiar with the undercurrents of the relationship between the cabal and the NSA said the cabal was not comfortable with the romance between Monguno and the service chiefs. The relationship between the NSA and the service chiefs was said to be very cordial unlike the situation under the era of Lt. Gen. Ibrahim Burutai, former Chief of Army Staff and his colleagues.

The rosy relationship, it was gathered, has seen the NSA and the service chiefs now holding their regular Tuesday meetings on security situations and strategy. But this, according to security sources, has not gone down well with the cabal and they are plotting to break their ranks.

 “The ultimate aim of the cabal is to sell to President Muhammadu Buhari the theory that the service chiefs do not have confidence in Monguno and consequently establish a ground to force him out of office”, a security source said.

According to the source, the fear of the cabal is that Monguno, who has had a running battle with the deceased ex-Chief of Staff to the President, Abba Kyari, said to be the arrowhead of the Presidency power brokers, may use his cosy relationship with the new service chiefs to probe the $1 billion arms purchase fund and other procurements under the former service chiefs. Since the death of Kyari, Buhari’s New Media aide, Sabiu Yusuf, aka Tunde, has been leading the charge among the cabal.

Recall that in 2018, President Buhari, worried by the resurgence of Boko Haram activities after the Presidency claimed they had been technically defeated, approved the hefty sum of $1 billion for the procurement of more sophisticated arms by the Defence authorities.

However, there had been grumbling among security personnel especially those in the frontline of the war against terror, that not much military hardware were procured with the money. Inside source said equipment where purchased, were over invoiced. Other complaints that trailed the expenditure of $1 billion was that some of the equipment were refurbished and passed off as new ones.

There were strong hints within the security circuit that Monguno may order an investigation into the deal as the amount expended does not match the equipment purchased. The purchase of arms has remained a sore point in the nation’s military annals in recent years. The NSA, however, has not given any hint to that effect, neither does his body language suggest imminent investigation of the arms purchase deal under the previous set of service chiefs.

On April 12, this year, while appearing before the House of Reps Ad hoc committee, Chief of Army Staff (COAS), Lt.-Gen. Ibrahim Attahiru, told the House Committee probing the Purchase, Use and Control of Arms, Ammunition and Related Hardware by Military, Paramilitary and Other Law Enforcement Agencies in Nigeria to invite his predecessors to shed more light on the arms procurement.

While responding to queries raised by the committee for him to give details on the military hardware purchases by the military, the COAS bluntly told the House Ad hoc Committee to invite the persons who made the purchases, explaining that all the purchases under scrutiny were done by individuals.

Though Attahiru did not mention names, but a list of his predecessors include the likes of Lt-Gen Azubuike Ihejirika (rtd) who was the COAS between September 2010 – January 2014;  Lt-Gen Kenneth Minimah (rtd) who was the COAS between January 2014 – July 2015 and Lt-Gen Tukur Buratai (rtd), the longest-serving COAS in recent history with over five years under his belt.

House insiders said the report presented to the Ad Hoc committee heavily pointed to the Buratai era as the period many questionable hardware purchases were made. It was learnt that some top military officers were miffed at the way the purchases were made. This may explain the hardline toed by Army chief, Attahiru, that the committee rather than heckle him for what he did not know about and was never part of, should invite the individuals who made the purchases.

When pressed by the committee to give further explanation to his report before them, Attahiru intoned: “The summation before you speaks to the report before you, it is an executive summary, it is self-explanatory…because when you demanded this report you stated specifically the areas from which you wanted this report.

“You may wish to recall that the COAS (referring to himself) took over the mantle of leadership barely two months ago. The period from which you wanted this report, having been summarised in the Executive summary explains whatever details you will require. Issues of procurement that you so demand to know were done by specific individuals.

“I will rather you call these individuals to come and explain to you very specific issues. The general issue has been contained in the report and the summary and the other executive summary is so contained, it goes to speak about the entire report and it explains it.”

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