A new report released by Transparency International has revealed how some military officials are profiting from the Boko Haram insurgency in the North East.
In the report, the anti-corruption watchdog alleges that corruption in the military is weakening the country’s efforts to battle Boko Haram. It underlines the difficulty of achieving two key campaign promises of President Muhammadu Buhari in 2015: tackling endemic corruption and defeating the insurgency that has claimed over 20,000 lives and displaced millions.
“Corrupt military officials have been able to benefit from the conflict through the creation of fake defence contracts, the proceeds of which are often laundered abroad in the United Kingdom (UK), United States (U.S.) and elsewhere,” TI stated.
According to Transparency International, the vice president had last year stated that around $15 billion had been stolen from the public purse under the previous government through fraudulent arms procurement deals.
It said this had left the military “without vital equipment, insufficiently trained, low in morale and under-resourced.”
Outlining cases of soldiers taking on the militants without ammunition or fuel, the watchdog said: “This has crippled the Nigerian military in fighting an aggressive ideologically inspired enemy such as Boko Haram.”
However, the defence headquarters has strongly dismissed the report as false. At a press briefing on Thursday, Defence spokesman, Brig-Gen. John Enenche alleged the TI was seeking to block the support Nigeria is getting in the war against terrorism by concerned countries.
Enenche argued that the leadership of the Armed Forces of Nigeria had done a lot to train, boost troops morale and procure vital equipment through due process, for the North East operations against Boko Haram in particular and other operations.
The defence spokesman added that the military had already been commended by the United Nations (UN) on the war against corruption, adding that it was this good image that the TI was working hard to destroy.
“The attention of Defence Headquarters has been drawn to an inciting corruption allegation against military officials, by Transparency International. Let me start by making it clear that this sweeping allegation is false with the following clarifications:
“The present leadership of the Armed Forces of Nigeria has done a lot to train, boost troops morale and procure vital equipment through due process, for the North East operations against Boko Haram in particular and other operations.
“The Defence Headquarters, Army, Navy and Air Force headquarters have established procurement branches that are guided by the rules and regulations of the Bureau for Public Procurement (BPP). The Ministry of Defence deals directly with states and governments on defence equipment procurement without using contractors or vendors any longer,” Enenche said.
Describing the sweeping allegations against military officials at such a time as rather disheartening, Enenche said:
“More so that the Nigerian military was on 22 March 2017 credited by the U.S. as having done very well to fight insurgency and extremism among others, with advice to other countries to learn from Nigeria. That such an allegation is coming at the peak of consistent successes being recorded at our areas of operational engagements, the North East in particular, it must be treated with utmost suspicion.”
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The defence spokesman further assured the general public that there was no calculated, deliberate or institutionalised corruption in any form within the military, stressing that the Armed Forces of Nigeria remained focused and committed to providing security to lives and property, and totally loyal and subordinated to the Commander-in- Chief of the Federal Republic of Nigeria.