Following the widespread allegations of corruption in the procurement of the nation’s defence and police equipment and materials, a pro-democracy group, Human Rights Writers’ Association of Nigeria (HURIWA), has called on the presidency and the National Assembly to invite a reputable auditing firm to undertake a comprehensive forensic audit of defence and police budgets from 1982 till date.
Making the demand in a statement jointly signed by HURIWA’s National Coordinator, Emmanuel Onwubiko and National Media Affairs Director, Miss. Zainab Yusuf, the group also canvassed for speedy amendments of relevant legislations to specifically make it a capital offence for any proven case of corruption and economic crime established against any public official in the defence and policing sectors.
The rights group is of the position that corruption in the two key national sectors not only undermines national security but also constitutes grave threat to the sovereignty of Nigeria.
It submitted that the recent high profile allegation by the Borno State Governor, Alhaji Kashim Shetima, that members of the outlawed Boko Haram sect were well armed and motivated much more than the Nigerian army makes it imperative that the huge defence and police budgets over the years be audited to ascertain why these critical sectors are still grossly ill-equipped and ill-motivated.
HURIWA also canvassed for forensic investigation of the activities of the men and officers of the Nigerian Customs Service (NCS) to determine how divergent freelance armed hoodlums obtained small arms and assorted weapons which they deploy to systematically destabilise Nigeria through terrorism and other criminal acts of brigandage and large scale killings of rural people in different parts of northern Nigeria.
The group stated that it was inconceivable that the border communities would be heavily flooded by assorted weapons which are currently in use by armed insurgents without the conspiratorial collaboration between men and officers of the NCS and the illegal arms importers and smugglers.
The above positions were adopted at an emergency meeting of the group which was held in Owerri, Imo State capital, during the Easter holiday.
According to HURIWA, “We are disturbed by the ongoing campaign of terrorism and brigandage in different parts of the North-east region which have unfortunately resulted in the death of over 5, 000 innocent Nigerians including the forced abduction of teenage school girls in Chibok Local Council Area in Borno State.”
The rights group lamented the spectacular failure of intelligence and the apparent inability of the Nigerian security agencies to sufficiently defeat these divergent armed fighters who have gravely undermined Nigeria’s national security and threatened in a very serious way, Nigeria’s territorial integrity.
“As a pragmatic way out of this quagmire in which we have found ourselves, we urge the presidency and the National Assembly to commission independent reputable firms of forensic auditors from across the developed world to undertake comprehensive audits of the defence and police budgets from 1982 to date to determine the veracity or otherwise of the allegation that it was since 1982 that the last major procurement of modern combat weapons for Nigerian armed forces officially took place,” it said.