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Reps probe $1bn spent on Tucano jets, others

Reps probe $1bn spent on Tucano jets, othersThe House of Representatives has begun investigation into how the Federal Government spent the $1bn special security fund approved for it by the National Assembly.

Part of the money was used to acquire 12 Super Tucano fighter aircraft from the United States.

The House is carrying out the probe as it is considering a five-year funding plan for Nigerian Armed Forces in their fight against insecurity.

The President, Major General Muhammadu Buhari (retd.), had in 2017 sought the approval of the National Assembly for the withdrawal of $1bn from the Excess Crude Account for the fight against insecurity.

Buhari, who told the national parliament that the National Economic Council had approved withdrawal, had announced that he had already ordered $496m payment to the United States government for the Tucano aircraft ahead of legislative approval.

The jets are billed for delivery in 2022.

Several members of the Senate and House of Representatives had at various times in 2018 described the anticipatory approval by the retired general as an impeachable offence.

The House particularly on November 27, 2018 resolved to investigate the finances of the Nigerian military, including how the $1bn was spent as well as the implementation of releases to the military under the 2018 Appropriation Act.

The matter had reared its head in the House on Thursday, during the second reading of the ‘The Nigerian Armed Forces Support Fund Bill,’ which sought to create additional funds for the fight against insurgency, banditry, kidnappings and other crimes across the country, over a period of five years.

The Chairmen of House Committees on Defence, Babajimi Benson; on Army, Abdulrazaq Namdas; on Air Force, Shehu Koko; on Navy, Yusuf Gagdi; on National Security and Intelligence, Shaban Sharada; and on Police Affairs, Bello Kumo; and Deputy Chairman, Committee on Defence, Makki Yalleman, had made the proposal.

Several members queried the previous security funds approved by the National Assembly.

While one of them asked how the $1bn security fund requested by the Federal Government was spent, others asked why the Armed Forces would need more funds after claiming to have decimated Boko Haram.

Speaking to our correspondent on Sunday, Benson disclosed that the House was already probing into the expenditure, noting that the discoveries so far were satisfactory.

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