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$1billion arms fund: Group writes Defence Minister, demands full disclosure of expenditure

The Conscience for New Nigeria (CNN) has called on the Minister of Defence, Gen. Bashir Salihi Magashi (rtd) to fully disclose how $1billion earmarked by President Muhammadu Buhari for the purchase of arms was expended.

The civil society organisation made this demand in an open letter to the minister on Saturday titled ‘$1billion arms fund controversy: Nigerians demand full disclosure! An open letter’.

The CSO said this has become paramount to address some of the allegations raised by the National Security Adviser (NSA) Major Gen. Babagana Monguno (rtd) last month.

In the letter signed by Akinwunmi Daniel, the group said despite Monguno’s retraction, the president’s integrity and that of his immediate past service chiefs are in the line.

Daniel said, hence, Magashi must come out clear and clean on the issue to put an end to the sensational controversies trailing the use of the funds.

According to him, failure to comply would amount to “your implied complicity in the arms fund’s diversion controversy, a disservice to the nation and a mockery of President Buhari’s anti-corruption campaigns”.

The group further said Nigerians and the world at large awaits Magashi’s exposure and this should be done forthwith.

Read the full letter below:

The leadership of the Conscience for New Nigeria (CNN), a Non-Governmental, non-partisan and non-profit organization extends its heart warm greetings to you, the Honorable Minister, Ministry of Defence, Gen. Bashir Salihi Magashi (rtd) and the entire staff of the ministry in the Ramadan season.

Today, CNN is obliged to openly address your office over a nagging problem of national dimension. And it is intricately linked to the nearly intractable insecurities which have held the jugular of our beloved country, Nigeria.

Sir, you would recall that about two months ago, Nigeria’s National Security Adviser (NSA) Major Gen. Babagana Monguno (rtd) sensationally created heat in the polity during an interview he granted the BBC Hausa Service.

In the widely publicized interview, the NSA allegedly mouthed or insinuated that the $1 billion arms procurement fund released by President Muhammadu Buhari for the purchase of weapons to fight terrorism, banditry and other forms of insecurities in the country were embezzled or diverted by immediate past Service Chiefs.

The CNN is extremely concerned and indeed, displeased with the sudden muting of this serious allegation by Gen. Monguno, without any explanation from your Ministry. And since Monguno’s allegations sparked national outrage, Nigerians asking serious questions, including questioning the integrity of President Buhari and his anti-corruption campaigns.

It also smeared the hard-earned and good reputation of the immediate past Service Chiefs. From this perspective, we consider your silence suspicious and smacks of a conspiracy to defame others.

Gen. Monguno later recanted his words claiming to have been quoted out of context ( or, is it a Freudian slip?). However, it did not exit the national excoriation of the ex-Military Chiefs indicted by the allegation.

Neither their guilt nor innocence was made public, as Nigerians were not given any explanation on the true narrative of the allegation of embezzled $billion arms procurement funds raised by Monguno.

We are compelled at this auspicious time to demand from you to break the incubated silence on the sensitive national matter. CNN believes issues of national security are not only sensitive but explosive. Therefore, we cannot condone any act of sabotage, complacence or frustration of Mr President’s determination to blight the fires of terrorism, banditry and other insecurities in the country.

It is in this regard that CNN demands from you full disclosure on the allegations raised by the NSA, Gen. Monguno (rtd) against the ex-Service Chiefs. Please, let Nigerians know what transpired exactly, at least an innocent person is crucified.

We have found it expedient to exhume the issue because credible information in the Defence Headquarters, Abuja at our disposal has revealed that the $1 billion arms procurement funds Gen. Monguno alleged as diverted or embezzled by the former Military Chiefs was spent by the Ministry of Defence.

Hon. Minister Sir, we have it from confidential unimpeachable sources that among the assets and liabilities you inherited from your predecessor, Gen. Mansur Mohammed Dan Ali (rtd), included the arms procurement funds Monguno alleged to have been siphoned by the former Service Chiefs.

Unfortunately, though, whilst this stark reality stares us in the face, the new or incumbent Service Chiefs are allegedly shielding the exposure of the whole truth, at your fingertips as the Minister of Defence. This posture is ennobled by the political and executive supervisory powers conferred on you over them.

Therefore, by this open epistle, CNN is patriotically requesting you come out clear and clean on this issue to put an end to the sensational controversies trailing the use of the funds. And failure to comply would amount to your implied complicity in the arms fund’s diversion controversy, a disservice to the nation and a mockery of President Buhari’s anti-corruption campaigns.

We want to make it clear to you, Hon. Minister, that your suspicious silence on this controversy is not golden as Nigerians are aware, the Ministry of Defence received the money after it was approved and released by Mr President. There was no time the shadows of former Service Chiefs were directly traced to arms procurement contracts of the Ministry of Defence or the Federal Government for the Nigerian Military.

CNN is consequently, pleading with you for once, to show leadership or act in good conscience and public accountability ethos by making full disclosures on the spending of $1 billion arms procurement funds.

Only this action would put an end to the unnecessary distractions and public umbrage over the use of the funds released for the purchase of weapons to battle insecurities in Nigeria, which the NSA alleged as embezzled.

Hon. Minister sir, let us remind you again of the sacrosanct obligation of transparency and accountability to Nigerians, as contained in your oath of office. We are anxious and keenly observing what action you would take going forward.

Furthermore, failure to make such disclosures especially at a time that the war against corruption by the Buhari administration has come under severe criticisms by no other person but the NSA and his veiled agents in the opposition camp would also imply your total disregard for the defining doctrines of the journey in the #NextLevel.

Accordingly, Nigerians and the whole world are demanding answers to this sensitive issue. And it behoves on you to clear the fog to keep the Buhari Presidency in the good global reckoning as an administration that battled the twine evils of terrorism and pervasive corruption to a standstill.

We thank you for your kind audience and perusal of this open letter. And Nigerians are expecting your positive response on this issue in the dimension canvassed by us in the next few days. Thank you, Sir.

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