SERAP seeks probe of military spending over Boko Haram killings
A civil society group, the Socio-Economic Rights and Accountability Project (SERAP), has asked the Federal Government to set up a commission of inquiry to investigate the spending of defence and military budgets between 1999 and 2018.
The group said the probe would ensure that the funds meant for military operation are spent for that purpose as well as end the vulnerability and killings of Nigerian soldiers such as the reported death of several soldiers in Boko Haram attack at Metele, Borno State, on November 18.
The request was contained in an open letter to President Muhammadu Buhari, dated November 23, 2018, by SERAP Senior Legal Adviser Ms Bamisope Adeyanju.
The letter was sequel to the killing of 118 soldiers and officers by the Boko Haram sect during an attack on the 157 Task Force Battalion in Metele village.
The organisation said the request also followed the case of 153 soldiers reportedly missing in action and Nigerian troops fighting on the frontline of the Boko Haram conflict, who reportedly deplored the poor state of their equipment, including outdated vehicles and that of over 27,000 people reportedly killed in the many years of Islamist insurgency in the Northeast.
SERAP added that the conflict has triggered humanitarian crisis and left 1.8 million people without homes.
The group, therefore, urged President Buhari to “immediately refer to the International Criminal Court (ICC) pursuant to article 13 of the Rome Statute, all allegations of corruption in the spending of funds meant to purchase arms to empower Nigerian soldiers to fight Boko Haram, including the apparent diversion and sharing of the over $2 billion under the former government of President Goodluck Jonathan and approved spending by your own government”.
The group said: “In 2014, about N340 billion (US$1.7 billion) was allocated to the military. Also, a number of offices had budgets allocated to them in relation to the Boko Haram conflict. The military received the largest funds in the federal budget in 2014. In October 2014, the National Assembly approved a request to borrow US$1billion as an additional amount for purchase of military equipment. In 2015, about N375billion (US$1.8billion) was allocated to the military in the federal budget.
“The same year, an interim report of the presidential investigations committee on arms procurement under the former president Goodluck Jonathan administration revealed an extra-budgetary spending to the tune of N643.8 billion and an additional spending of about $2.1 billion under the Goodluck Jonathan administration.”