Sunday, March 3, 2024

Reps probe $1bn FG spent to tackle Boko Haram, insecurity

The House of Representatives has commenced an investigation into how the Federal Government spent the $1bn special security fund approved for it by the National Assembly.

President Muhammadu Buhari had in 2017 sought the approval of the National Assembly for the withdrawal of $1bn from the Excess Crude Account for the fight against insecurity.

President Buhari, who revealed to the national parliament that the National Economic Council had approved withdrawal, had announced that he had already ordered $496m payment to the United States government for the Tucano aircraft ahead of legislative approval.

The jets are billed for delivery in 2022.

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However, the request by President Buhari on withdrawal of $1bn from ECA account had drawn criticism from some Nigerians who believed the administration could not be trusted on the intended expenditure, some also alleged that the money could be used for 2019 general elections in the interest of the president and his party.

The Nigeria Governor’s Forum was the first to announce that it had agreed that the federal government spent the $1 billion to fight the Boko Haram insurgency.

Vice President Yemi Osinbajo later explained that the money was meant not only to fight Boko Haram but also to address other security challenges.

The House, however, initiated the probe as it is considering a five-year funding plan for Nigerian Armed Forces in their fight against insecurity.

The House in November 27, 2018, resolved to investigate the finances of the Nigerian military, including how the $1bn was spent as well as the implementation of releases to the military under the 2018 Appropriation Act.

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The House on Thursday, debated on the support fund, ‘The Nigerian Armed Forces Support Fund Bill,’ which sought to create additional funds for the fight against insurgency, banditry, kidnapping and other crimes across the country, over a period of five years.

Several members queried the previous security funds approved by the National Assembly.

Why a member asked how the $1bn security fund requested by the Federal Government was spent, others wondered why the Armed Forces would need more funds after claiming to have decimated Boko Haram.

Speaking on Sunday, Chairman, House Committees on Defence, Babajimi Benson, said the House was already probing the expenditure, noting that the discoveries so far were satisfactory.

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