From Noah Ebije, Kaduna
A Conference of States Civil Society Networks, consisting of eight Civil Society Organisations (CSO) have asked President Muhammadu Buhari to speak up on the alleged missing $1 billion allocated for arms and ammunitions procurement during the tenure of the former Service Chiefs.
The National Security Adviser (NSA), Major-General Babagana Mungono (retd) revealed recently that the funds released for the procurement of arms and ammunitions to fight insecurity were missing under the control of the previous Security Chiefs.
However, the CSOs said if President Buhari fails to break silence on the issue, it will rub on his genuine commitment to fight corruption in the country.
In communiqué issued and signed by the Convener of the conference, who is also the President, Kano Civil Society Forum, Ibrahim Waiya, added that the group will kick vehemently against any moves to replace the NSA ‘for speaking the truth’.
The communiqué, which was released to newsmen on Tuesday, read in part: ‘We therefore wish to remind President Muhammadu Buhari that all eyes are on your Government,and all men of integrity are anxiously waiting for the response of your Government on the alleged arms and ammunitions deal in the country, and that if nothing is done about this, the inaction would surely and further create doubt on the minds of Nigerians and other international communities on the seriousness or otherwise of the Government, towards a genuine commitment to effectively fight corruption in Nigeria.
‘We as a group of reputable Civil Society Organizations operating in different states across the country, resolved to take an exception to the grand conspiracy to have the National Security Adviser, major Gen.Babagana Munguno replaced as a price for telling the truth about the enduring arms deal widely discussed at both national and international platforms. It is on this note we wish to describe the alleged act of conspiracy as “unpatriotic, uncalled for and a smear on decorum”.
‘It is our conviction that, the singular act of patriotism demonstrated by Major Gen Babagana Mungono on the revelations over the alleged missing funds released for the procurement of arms and ammunitions, deserves national honor and respect but not persecution on the basis of personal vendetta by the imperceptible anti citizens and anti democracy elements, who get pride in promoting impunity and are hell-bent on destroying the reputation and integrity of the country, by cashing on their personal gains and serving the instincts of their arrogance.
‘This is a total embarrassment for the Nigerian nation to be enmeshed in yet another round of arms fund scandal with vested interests desperately struggling to kill all efforts aimed at uncovering the truth for Nigerians to know.
‘We wish to canvass for the support of all Nigerians to rally round and ensure that we bring an end to this kind of unpleasant experience that create both domestic and international embarrassment, and ensure that all persons or groups found guilty of shortchanging the country in the fight against killings, arson and general insecurity are sanctioned and brought to justice, regardless of their self acclaimed influence or relationship with the apex political power corridor in the land.
‘It is to our utmost surprise that, if it were in other civilized climes, those being widely accused in this fresh round of arms deal would have by now been charged to court. We cannot fathom why true citizens of any nation should kick against the probe of a suspected breach of this magnitude, not even minding the price of the problem on lives and properties of innocent men, women and girls in our country and the envisaged negative impact on their future.
‘We wish to assure Nigerians that, an alleged scam of this magnitude cannot just be swept under the carpet because those in positions of authority saddled with the responsibility of protecting Nigerians’ lives have no excuse for compromise.
‘We wish to reiterate our position that, probe of the arms deal would be one sure means of gaining the trust and confidence of Nigerians on the government’s fight against official corruption and all other dimensions of corrupt practices in the country. And therefore continuous attempt by some elements to distract attention through the alleged conspiracy to remove or replace the NSA, are doing a great disservice to this nation.
‘And an offence of this magnitude must never be treated with kids glove. We are a country of integrity and therefore the rule of law must be allowed to prevail. All men and women of good conscience in Nigeria are waiting with bated breath to see how this matter fans out in the end.
‘The Conference of States Civil Society Networks is primarily established as an assembly of the State Based Civil Society Coalitions operating in different states across the federation.
‘The group serves as a unifying platform to amplify our collective voices on issues of national importance, political accountability, respond to the growing challenges of mal-administration, impunity and corruption in the system, to ensure that the values of democratic governance are fully entrenched in the country.
“The Networks express serious concerns about the scale of the insecurity in the Northern region and Nigeria in general ranging from insurgency, abductions, kidnapping and violent conflict that have become too common.
‘As Civil Society Organisations, we identified the need to promote a common understanding on the genesis and current state of these unfortunate developments which have overwhelming implications on the lives and safety of citizens and which have equally degenerated in overheating the nation’s polity, and dividing Nigerians along those lines.
‘The Conference of States Civil Society Networks wishes to unequivocally throw its weight behind numerous calls across the country for an immediate probe on the alleged $1 billion arms deal, urging President Muhammadu Buhari to urgently proceed by setting up a special panel of investigation into the matter.
‘The Conference equally supports the efforts of Government in the fight against corruption, as well as promotion of transparency and accountability in governance. We therefore feel obliged to remind the National Assembly on their constitutional role of oversight function, hence a duty to support the advocacy for the setting up of the panel of investigation by the Presidency on the alleged missing $1 billion released for the procurement of arms and ammunitions.’