Asks President to order comprehensive audit
By Our Correspondent
As debate rages over $1billion spent on arms, it emerged yesterday that troops in the North-East are ill-equipped, even as more questions are raised over transparency and accountability over procured arms.
Recall that the National Security Adviser, Maj Gen Babagana Monguno (Rtd) had recently suggested that arms ordered by the country were on their way to delivery. Some items of equipment including artillery guns, were also bought about three months ago.
A top military source, who gave these indications while speaking in confidence called on President Muhammadu Buhari to set up a committee of retired Military Generals to interact with troops in the North-East.
The source said: “I have been part of Operation Lafiya Dole. You are talking of equipment? Most of the equipment you see, like these new artillery guns, were bought some three months ago. And they were not sufficient.
“In terms of arms, we need to take stock of the budget and the supply. These people long time ago said they can do it and the Buhari administration released cash. The question is: How many MRAP, gun trucks, and tanks did they buy?
“One might not know the amount of money given out but for the National Security Adviser(NSA), Gen. Babagana Monguno to have come out to say something, clarifying he didn’t imply the funds were misappropriated, the government should look into what is happening at the frontline because a detailed investigation may reveal where the arms end up.
“The new Service Chiefs knew what they inherited but they cannot go to the National Assembly to go and open the Pandora”s Box. By virtue of their office, there are certain things they cannot disclose to the public because they border on national security. The country needs to know if the firmer service chiefs made reports about missing arms following Boko Haram attacks.
“The soldiers are demoralized. Within 10 days, we lost more than 30 soldiers. These are people’s brothers, husbands, fathers and friends. The fighting spirit of our men is zero without arms.”
Asked of the way out, the top source asked the President to either call for a comprehensive audit of the Ordinance Corps or raise a committee of retired Military Generals to interact with troops in the North-East.
“The Ordinance Corps is in charge of arms and ammunitions. The President can order a comprehensive audit of the arms, ammunitions and military equipment given to the corps for distribution. No bullet can be released to troops without the knowledge and record of the Ordinance.
“We can have a committee of retired generals. Let them come and meet soldiers and interact with them on what is the problem. That is another way out.
“What I am suggesting is that members of the National Assembly from the North-East should go to their constituencies and find out the situation of things. They can also help the President and the ongoing probe by the National Assembly by coming up with confidential reports.”
Responding to a question, the source said: “Boko Haram terrorists do not get supply of arms from outside. The arms they are using, including vehicles, were seized from troops.
“But 90% of the arms Boko Haram are using are from the troops. They used to collect them after attacking any military base. They will just come very close to any base and fire. The boys will repel and after exhausting their ammunitions, they will run for cover. And in the process, Boko Haram terrorists will cart away arms and ammunitions.
“Even some of the vehicles they are using are from us. 80 per cent of the vehicles are from us. That is why their vehicles are painted in Army colour. The arms are our own; they did not buy it anywhere.
“We are static. That is where we are. They know our position, they gather their boys to come and attack and they pack things away. Then, the next thing you hear is that we repelled.”
The source recommended acquisition of gunships with night fighting facility.
“What we need is six helicopter gunships with night fighting capability. We can finish Boko Haram within three months or four. We know where they are now.
“These South African mercenaries they are talking about, their equipment had night fighting capability. With such gunships, if you go to the camps of the terrorists, we will get them cheaply.”