The Chief of Army Staff, Ibrahim Attahiru, a lieutenant general, on Monday, finally appeared before the ad hoc committee of the House of Representatives investigating the $1billion arms procurement deal.
Mr Attahiru had previously failed to honour the lawmakers’ invitation on three occasions.
The Committee on March 22 asked the COAS and the Central Bank of Nigeria Governor, Godwin Emefiele, to testify before it on the matter but they failed to appear.
Again, both officials snubbed the committee on April 7 when they were billed to appear.
At Monday’s hearing, Mr Attahiru explained to the lawmakers that his inability to honour several invitations of the committee was due to other engagements on internal security.
He, however, refused to apologise to the committee, noting that his explanation was sufficient.
He also refused to speak on the reports he earlier sent to the committee on the matter but instead asked that it (committee) should speak to relevant persons in the army.
Mr Attahiru’s position spurred a response from Bede Eke, a member of the committee, who demanded that the army chief should speak on oath.
Apparently determined to avert an impasse, the committee chairperson, Olaide Akinremi, called for an executive session because of the sensitive nature of the subject matter.
The House mandated the committee to investigate the claim last month by the National Security Adviser, Babagana Monguno, that funds meant for the purchase of arms were missing under the leadership of the immediate past service chiefs.
“The President has done his best by approving huge sums of money for the purchase of weapons, but the weapons were not bought, they are not here. Now, he has appointed new service chiefs, hopefully, they will devise some ways,” Mr Monguno, a retired major general, had told BBC Hausa Service.
“I’m not saying the former service chiefs diverted the money, but the money is missing. We don’t know how, and nobody knows for now. I believe Mr President will investigate where the money went. I can assure you the President takes issues of this nature seriously.
“The fact is that preliminary investigation showed the funds are missing and the equipment is nowhere to be found. When the new service chiefs assumed office, they also said they didn’t see anything on the ground.”
The NSA has since said he was quoted out of context and did not categorically make such a claim.
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