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Senate Rejects Probe of Spending On Varsities, Past Military Equipment, Yacht

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THE Senate at plenary on Wednesday, rejected a prayer by the Senator representing Edo North Senatorial District, Adams Oshiomhole, seeking a probe of the funds allegedly appropriated to the military in the past to fight insurgency and banditry across the country.

The red chamber also kicked against investigation into the purchase of yacht and establishment of universities allegedly built with funds appropriated for the military in the hometowns of some past service chiefs in order to prevent future occurrence

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The upper chamber however, okayed the motion, urging the federal government to seek the collaboration of private security outfits to end insurgency and banditry in the country.

It equally challenged the military and security agencies to employ the use of modern technology and scientific strategies to fight insurgency and other criminal activities in the country.

The Senate decisions were sequel to a motion by the Chief Whip, Senator Ali Ndume, representing the Borno South Senatorial District on the recent suicide attacks in Gwoza, which killed many people and injured several others.

Ndume’s motion was titled: “Suicide Attacks in Gwoza, Borno State: The Urgency to Stem the Tide of This Ugly Menace.”

The Borno South Senator, whose constituency was the target of the bloody attacks, in his lead debate, drew the attention of his colleagues to the incident, which occurred on Saturday, 29th June, 2024.

He said brazen suicide bombers targeted a wedding ceremony, funeral and hospital in a sporadic and coordinated attacks in the Gwoza town of Borno State, which resulted in the unfortunate deaths of about 32 innocent Nigerians so far, leaving scores of other victims wounded with varied degrees of injuries.

He also noted that one of the incidents occurred near a busy motor park in Tashan Mararaba, Gwoza town and the victims were mainly civilians returning from a wedding ceremony, where the assailant was identified to be a young lady in her early 20s.

According to him, the attacks had raised significant concerns about the security situation in the region, which has been a flashpoint of terrorist attacks over the years.

Ndume said the development called for concerted and coordinated efforts of the security agencies to address the state of insecurity in Borno State and other parts of the country, experiencing similar situations.

He stressed the need for the military to adopt scientific and technologically based warfare with the use of modern softwares and facilities to fight the menace.

Ndume, however, urged his colleagues to observe a minute silence for the deceased, and asked the National Emergency Management Agency (NEMA) to intensify efforts by providing relief materials to the victims of the attacks.

He equally asked the federal government to direct the security agencies in the country to deploy the use of modern technology in the fight against insurgency and to make concerted efforts in securing the hot spots inhabited by the insurgents, namely, the Lake Chad Region, Sambisa Forest; and Mandara Mountains, respectively

Ndume’s prayers were adopted and approved by the Senate.

But an additional prayer by Oshiomhole urging the Senate Committee on Army and Air Force to carry out oversight on the way the funds appropriated for the military in the past were expended, was rejected by the red chamber.

Oshiomhole alleged that some past security chiefs established universities not teaching anything about security while the Navy even bought a yacht.

The Edo North senator was of the view that banditry and insurgency would have been successfully fought if the money was spent on modern technology and scientific equipment currently being used to fight criminality across the World.

“The Senate Committee on Army and Air Force should ensure that we do not only provide more money to the armed forces, that we guide jealously what they use that money to procure.

“This is because, under the supervision and oversight of this National Assembly, previous service chiefs had spent money to build universities in their various communities.

“Those are the kind of resources that should be used to procure modern technology. And to think that money will be diverted to non-essentials. And as we speak, those institutions are not teaching anything about security. They are just another glorified university.

“I think that this House has the power to appropriate. We should focus strictly on the items that the army and the Air Force and other security agencies are going to spend the money to do. Otherwise, everybody knows we need modern technology.

“We must assist them to redirect their procurement policies to focus on the technology. Otherwise, we can decline to approve appropriation if the details are not such that those managing the system will use the money strictly in a manner that will do justice to our collective feeling about redirecting and moving more and more towards technology,” Oshiomhole said.

But Ndume, who was Chairman, Senate Committee on the Army for several years while addressing journalists after the plenary, clarified that the funds appropriated for the purpose of fighting banditry and insurgency were never diverted.

He, also, said the funds for the establishment of universities by the military were dully appropriated for by the both chambers of the National Assembly.

“It is wrong to assume that the funds for military equipment were diverted to building of universities. Funds for the establishment of those institutions were dully appropriated.

“The Senate was also of the opinion that a call for the probe of military expenditure in the past should come in form of a proper motion and not as an additional prayers,” he said.

Senator Jimoh Ibrahim, in his contribution, lamented the proliferation of arms among Nigerians and shocked his colleagues that about 277 guns were currently in the hands of some persons within the National Assembly.

“Living with insecurity is gradually becoming the only way to understand security and we cannot allow this trend to continue because of the danger that it portrays.

“I don’t want to take much of your time, but I will say clearly It cost nothing for the intelligence army to get devices in their phone to know where these notorious criminals live.

“As I’m here, I check my phone regularly and I know the number of guns that are very close to me here. This is just less than 1,000 installations. Within us now, there are over 277 guns around here.”

UN Set to Host Peace Building Programme

The United Nations (UN) in Nigeria has said its maiden peace-building programme tagged: “Summit of the future-new agenda for peace” was aimed at advancing measures at tackling security related issues.

UN Resident Humanitarian Coordinator in Nigeria, Mohamed Fall, disclosed this during national stakeholders’ consultation in Abuja to map out strategies for the upcoming summit scheduled to hold from Sept.22 to 23, 2024 in New York.

The event organised by the UN, in collaboration with the Institute for Peace and Conflict Resolution (IPCR), sought to promote the use of dialogue as tool in tackling security challenges.

Fall said although Nigeria was Africa’s most populous nation, it has role to play as regional power in shaping regional and global agenda on peace and security.

“There are a number of idioms that notes how crucial Nigeria is to the subcontinent and the world, the most notable is the following ‘when Nigeria sneezes, the whole continent fall sick,” he said.

He noted that the promotion of peace and security was central to the UN and enshrined in the organisation’s Charter to save generations from the scourge of conflict.

According to him, dialogue has become important toward supporting Nigeria capture and articulate efforts in tackling peace and security challenges.

“The new agenda for peace is a fresh look at the changing security landscape and a call to reinvigorate collective security system based on principles of trust, solidarity and universality.

“The agenda stresses importance of preventive diplomacy to tackle poverty, inequalities, climate change and closing development gaps that lead to conflict in the first place.

“This would strengthen both the regional peace architecture and the global framework for addressing contemporary threats to peace and security across Africa,” he said. [ThisDay]

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