Chief of Army Staff Buratai replies SERAP, others over military spending.
Chief of Army Staff (COAS), Lt. General Tukur Yusuf Buratai, has responded to the joint Freedom of Information (FoI) request on military spending, especially in the Northeast between 2015 and 2017.
The Socio-Economic Rights and Accountability Project (SERAP), Enough is Enough (EiE), and BudgIT, had made the request in December last year, considering the huge amounts of money said to have been spent in fighting insurgency in the region.
The groups also urged Buratai to provide details of the amounts released (their financial implications) and they were spent in 2015, 2016 and 2017 for Operation Lafiya Dole, Operation Safe Haven, Operation Python Dance, and Operation Ruwan Wuta.
Others are Operation Delta Safe, Operation Mesa, Operation Harbin Kunama, Operation Awatse, Operation Tsera Teku, and Operation Crocodile Smile.
But responding at the weekend, the Army listed certain projects it carried out with budgeted funds within the period.
Buratai explained that the money was spent on the renovation of barracks and military hospitals, honoring late soldiers; training and workshops; repairs of some old military equipment and completion of offices and housing projects.
Others are feeding of soldiers; the building of new barracks and schools; procurement of arms and ammunition and vehicles for military operations; as well as the provision of welfare for soldiers.
Buratai’s reply was contained in a letter with reference number AHQDCMA/G4/100/4 and signed by Brigadier-General S.B. Kumapayi.
“The Nigerian Army has in recent times come under unrelenting public scrutiny by private individuals and non-governmental organizations over issues of appropriation of funds.
“The most recent being a call from your organization for the Nigerian Army to explain how funds appropriated under the Chief of Army Staff were utilized.”
“In view of the above, I am directed to forward the above-mentioned document to your office for your perusal and retention,” the letter reads
A statement issued by SERAP’s Senior Legal Adviser, Bamisope Adeyanju yesterday, noted that the groups will carefully study the document “to see if details of the information provided meet the requirements of our request and promptly respond to him as appropriate.
“While we ascertain the level of compliance of the information provided, we welcome Buratai’s demonstrated commitment to the Freedom of Information Act by responding to our request.
“This is so, especially at a time when senior government officials like Minister of Agriculture and Rural Development, Audu Ogbeh and his Power, Works and Housing counterpart, Babatunde Fashola, continue to disregard FoI requests by refusing to even acknowledge several of them.
“The National Assembly, Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC), ministries, departments and agencies (MDAs) should learn from Buratai’s good example by responding to FoI requests from Nigerians, NGOs, and others.”