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Military Armament: Falana Wants N’Assembly to Audit Defence Budget

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Following THISDAY’s special report Tuesday on the state of the country’s military capability, human rights lawyer and Senior Advocate of Nigeria (SAN), Mr. Femi Falana, has called on the federal lawmakers to conduct an audit of the defence budget within the last three years.

Speaking  Tuesday on the sidelines at a National Summit on Impunity in Nigeria, organised by a coalition of civil society organisations (CSOs) in Abuja, he stated that it was in the interest of the country to find out what went wrong with the budget for the military so that young men and women who are ill-equipped in the military are not slaughtered during crisis situations, like the one the nation is facing.

He said: “It is in a national daily today (Tuesday) that whereas at some time we used to have about 250,000 soldiers and now they are barely 100,000 and they are ill equipped and ill motivated. This is an area that the government must address with urgency.

“I am disturbed to read this news report, because in the last four years, over N3 trillion has been budgeted for the defence of the country, apart from payment of allowances. What has happened to the funds?”

He said there was need for more motivation for the men of the armed forces who are ready to lay down their lives for the country, adding that part of the motivation for soldiers that are sent to war is that they should be treated like human beings apart from kitting them.

Falana said: “If any of them is killed in battle, you must assure the families that their loved ones died in the defence of their fatherland. You must pay their entitlements as soon as possible and you must avoid sending them out of the barracks within seven days or two weeks. You must relocate them so that whoever is fighting for his country would not feel that the family will be abandoned if they lose their lives.”

On the unabating insurgency in the North-east, Falana said: “It is not about pointing fingers, it is about what you can do as a people and what the government can do to stop more killings and abductions. So if you claim that you are in a state of emergency and the place is militarised, how come killings are still going on?

“This is very disturbing that more abductions are still taking place having regard to the fact that there is a state of emergency in those states and there is full militarisation of the environment. So you would expect that the Joint Task Force (JTF) would have policed those states in a way that we don’t have a terrible situation in our hands.”

On the statement by former President Olusegun Obasanjo that he did not receive the support of the presidency during his attempt to negotiate the release of the schoolgirls kidnapped from Chibok, he said Obasanjo did not need any presidential fiat to wade in to help in the release of the 219 girls, if he genuinely wanted to.

“Nobody should play politics with this misfortune or tragedy. I know of some efforts of the former president locally and internationally to link up with the Boko Haram sect, with a view to releasing these girls without going to the media for now. You don’t need any permission and I think that the presidency has made it clear to him, you don’t need any permission.

“He did it before even though it ended in a fiasco and one of the reasons, from the information at my disposal, why he didn’t succeed the last time was that it was exposed.

“If the former president genuinely wants to get involved, he doesn’t need to make it a media affair for now, he doesn’t need any special permission. In fact, it is a duty on the part of every Nigerian to save anybody in danger, so you don’t need a presidential fiat to intervene in such a situation.

“I would have expected the former president even to contact President Goodluck Jonathan, so that both sides can get their acts together and get us results,” he said.

Also speaking on the recent Ekiti gubernatorial election, he said: “We had 36,790 armed policemen, soldiers and civil defence operatives for an election, so if you could deploy such number of people to monitor an election, it should be possible to have a greater number of people in an area where there is danger like the North-east.

“You don’t need soldiers to be involved in an election in the country. There was no duty performed in that Ekiti State election that the policemen could not have even performed much better.

“Why must a curfew be imposed illegally without declaring a state of emergency? Why do you expel people from the state because there is an election? Or why did you prevent some governors from visiting the state while you allowed other politicians who are not from the state to go there and take part in the democratic process?

“While Nigerians are clapping for the limited success recorded by the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), we must not forget this other violation of the rights of our people. Otherwise, it then becomes a culture, and with every election, more militarisation will take place, that is not our culture.”

He added that he was not going to challenge any aspect of the election, stating: “It is not about the result, rather it is the militarisation of any society in the country without a declaration of a state emergency.”

Article Credit: Thisdaylive

Updated 4 Years ago

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