BY ADEBIYI ADEDAPO, Abuja
The Chief of Army Staff (COAS), Lt.-Gen. Ibrahim Attahiru, has said that past Army chiefs should be invited by lawmakers to explain arms procurement made during their tenures.
The Army chief, while appearing before the House of Representatives Adhoc Committee investigating the procurement of arms and ammunition for the Nigerian Army and paramilitary agencies in the country, said that an executive summary of all documents requested for by the panel had been provided.
He noted that all the documents are self-explanatory, directing the lawmakers to invite former chiefs for further details on the matter, saying that he only came into office two months ago.
A member of the Committee from Delta State, Hon. Ejiro Ogene, during the proceedings frowned at the COAS’ explanation for not appearing before the committee earlier.
According to the lawmaker, the House is that of the Nigerian people, everyone in public office works for Nigerians, adding that the House of Representatives speaks for the people.
“When we ask you to come, the people are the ones speaking, sovereignty lies in the people; if we see it like this, things will be different.
“I expect that the COAS tenders an apology, not an explanation. You are serving the people and they are as your employer,” Ogene said.
Another member of the committee from Benue State, Hon Samson Okwu, said that the House had earlier taken pains to summon the president to appear and explain security issues.
“We have taken the pain to summon the president, we have seen how you command the troops in the theater of war but when we call you here, you should be civil.
“You should not be referring us to those who have left, you worked under all these people and we have powers to invite anybody,” Okwu said.
A member from Imo State, Hon. Bede Eke, said that the lawmakers were only out to partner with the military in finding a solution to the insecurity in the country.
According to him, the COAS cannot come before the panel and tell members how to do their job, addinf if the lawmakers deemed it fit to invite anybody, they will.
Eke, therefore, moved a motion that the documents brought by the COAS be presented under oath in line with parliamentary practice.
The lawmaker also said that the COAS should speak to the documents after which lawmakers will ask him questions as it is the tradition of the House.
However, as tensions were rising, chairman of the Committee, Hon Olaide Akinremi, ruled that hearing goes into a closed-door while journalists were asked to leave the hearing.
Meanwhile, briefing journalists after the closed-door session, Hon. Eke said that the committee was on track to unearth the truth.
He said that the COAS asked for more time to enable him to provide further details which the committee graciously granted.
The lawmaker added that more agencies will appear before the committee and that they were still expecting the Central Bank Governor, Godwin Emefiele, to appear before the panel.