The immediate past service chiefs who held the military command under President Muhammadu Buhari for about six years spent more than N2.659 trillion on military arms and ammunition between 2015 and 2019, records have revealed.
SaharaReporters learnt that the N2.659 trillion is outside the controversial $1 billion Excess Crude Account Fund which was approved by Buhari in April 2018 despite public outcry.
The $1 billion was nonetheless approved and released, partly because the former military chiefs impressed upon the National Assembly that they did not have enough funds to fight the insurgency.
The N2.659 trillion for military arms was the total, according to records, for 2015, 2016, 2017, 2018 and 2019 and was shared among the immediate past Chief of Army Staff, Lt Gen Tukur Buratai (retd.), the former Chief of Defence Staff, General Abayomi Olonisakin (retd.), the former Chief of Naval Staff, Vice Admiral Ibok-Ete Ibas (retd.) and the former Chief of Air Staff, Air Marshal Sadique Abubakar (retd.).
The breakdown shows that “in 2015, the military spent N397 billion on arms; in 2016, N444 billion; in 2017, N495 billion; in N2018; N654 billion; in 2019; N669 billion.”
According to the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute, a Sweden-based group which documents military transactions globally, Nigeria within these years bought arms from at least 13 countries.
It is not clear if some of the purchases were inflated or some parts of the funds were not expended for the purposes intended.
The SIPRI Arms Transfers Database identified the countries that supplied the arms as: “Brazil, which supplied EMB-314 Super Tucano trainer aircraft; Canada, which supplied Turboprop/turboshaft in 2018; China, which supplied SH-2122mm and SH-5105 self-propelled guns, VT-4 tanks, ZTL-09 armoured vehicles, CH-3 and CH-4 armed UAVs.”
Other countries are France, Italy, Netherlands, Pakistan, Russia, South Africa, South Korea, United Arab Emirates, United Kingdom, and the United States.
SaharaReporters had on Tuesday exclusively reported that the $1 billion set aside by Buhari from the Excess Crude Account to buy military arms and ammunition was actually released to the military, and shared among the air force, the army and the navy under the immediate past service chiefs.
SaharaReporters learnt that the $1 billion release was approved by the National Assembly and shared to the military arms in 2019 without public knowledge to avoid criticisms.
In December 2018, Buratai, while addressing newsmen in Maiduguri, Borno State, had himself hinted that the money had been released but had not, as of then, got to the army’s coffers.
The National Security Adviser, Maj Gen Babagana Monguno (retd,), had last week questioned that some funds meant for the purchase of arms to fight Boko Haram and other security challenges in the country were missing.