19 May 2017
While the Federal Government and the victims of the Boko Haram insurgency in the North East count their losses, some military officials are profiting from the crisis.
This was the position of Transparency International as it released a report on the crisis.
But the defence headquarters on Thursday strongly dismissed the report as false and that it was meant to weaken the fight against terrorism.
“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 declared
The report 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.
The allegations of misappropriation of funds meant for equipping the military have persistently trailed the battle against Boko Haram.
Thus, the dismissal of the report by the military as false should not stop the government from investigating the allegations of corruption.
TI noted that last year, the vice president said 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.”
“This has crippled the Nigerian military in fighting an aggressive ideologically inspired enemy such as Boko Haram,” the watchdog added, pointing to cases of soldiers taking on the militants without ammunition or fuel.
Reacting to the allegation, Defence spokesman, Brig-Gen. John Enenche, at a press briefing in Abuja yesterday, said the TI was seeking to block the support Nigeria is getting in the war against terrorism by concerned countries.
He said 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.
Enenche noted 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.
Enenche said a sweeping statement of corruption against military officials at this time was rather disheartening. “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,” the Defence spokesman said.