By Christiana Ekpa
The House Representatives Adhoc committee investigating the purchase of arms and ammunition for the military and paramilitary in Nigeria, yesterday summoned the Chief of Army Staff, Ibrahim Attahiru and the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN), governor, Godwin Emefiele to appear April 7 or risk punitive measure.
The House equally described the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN), and it’s governor, Godwin Emefiele as an obstacles to transparency and accountability in Nigeria.
The lawmakers also expressing it’s displeasure over the refusal by the CBN Governor and the Chief of Army staff, Gen. Ibrahim Atahiru to appear before it.
The committee led by Hon. Olaide Akinremi (APC, Oyo) at it meetings on Monday disclosed that the head of the two agences have refused for appearance for 5 time now.
The motion to take a hard stand on the agencies which beginning with a summon was moved by Hon. Bede Uchenna Eke, (PDP Imo) from Imo eliciting overwhelming support of other members, even as the committee chairman tried to tone down the resolution.
Eke said: “Mr Chairman, distinguished colleagues, I think we have got to a situation where we really have take a very hard stand on this matter, the last time the Representative of the Chief of Army staff came, we told him that the Chief of Army Staff should appear in person, at least to come and deposit the documents requested by this Committee because he is the man in charge of that agency.”
“Mr Chairman, CBN has been a problem to this House and they cannot operate the way they are operating because we approved that budget and this House will keep quite and they think they can do it all the time and get away with it. By the way, what are we asking for? Come and tell us how much you have paid for the purchase of Arms. We have given you the right to fair hearing, are you hiding anything? We will not allow it, if there something you are hiding because you are CBN, we will not allow it.
“People are killed everyday, Mr Chairman, I want to move a motion, let me stop at this but I want this House and this Ad-hoc Committee, we don’t have time and we come here everyday and we seat 3, 4 hours waiting for a Government agencies, I want to move a motion that we summon, especially Chief of Army Staff and CBN, enough is enough, the CBN Governor and the Chief of Army Staff must be summoned, that is when they will know we are serious,” Hon. Eke moved.
The chairman of the Committee who is versatile on security matters did all he could to play down the summon aspect of the motion but all to no avail as members vehemently insisted the summon must remain.
Also speaking earlier after the chairman’s opening remark, Hon. Samson Okwu, (PDP, Benue), said:
“It’s very disheartening to see that this committee that was set up by Mr Speaker to review the purchase of arms and ammunition to the military and we also know that we have been having sittings during which you said that we will not leave any stone unturned.”
And here we are waiting to see the people from agencies such as the CBN to come and brief this committee regarding its roles in the alleged arm purchase and they are nowhere to be found.
“The CBN Should know that as a responsible agency created by law, the National Assembly has the powers to demand for explanations on any fund spent on behalf of Nigerians.
“But it’s unfortunate that the CBN did not turn up and yet didn’t deem it fit to write officially to explain or ask for extension. I think it’s high time we made use of our constitutional powers to compel them to appear before us”, Okwu said.