FG Didn’t ‘Temporarily’ Ban Twitter Just For Deleting Buhari’s Tweets – Presidency

Presidential spokesman Garba Shehu appeared on Channels Television's Sunrise Daily on February 1, 2020.
A file photo of Garba Shehu.

 

The Presidency on Saturday said its decision to “temporarily” ban Twitter wasn’t a “knee-jerk reaction” to the social media network’s deletion of President Muhammadu Buhari’s tweets.

According to a statement signed by spokesman Garba Shehu, Twitter has long been accused of spreading “misinformation and fake news” which can have “real world violent consequences.”

“The temporary suspension of Twitter is not just a response to the removal of the President’s post,” the statement said.

“There has been a litany of problems with the social media platform in Nigeria, where misinformation and fake news spread through it have had real world violent consequences. All the while, the company has escaped accountability.

“Major tech companies must be alive to their responsibilities. They cannot be allowed to continue to facilitate the spread of religious, racist, xenophobic and false messages capable of inciting whole communities against each other, leading to loss of many lives. This could tear some countries apart.”

The Federal Government announced an “indefinite suspension” of Twitter operations in Nigeria on Friday.

By early Saturday, users across the country started to experience difficulties in accessing the service and many resorted to using Virtual Private Networks (VPN).

The decision to suspend Twitter has been criticised by many, but the Presidency in its Saturday statement insisted it was a justified move

“. . . the removal of President Buhari’s tweet was disappointing,” the statement said. “The censoring seemed based on a misunderstanding of the challenges Nigeria faces today.”

The tweet deleted by Twitter had referenced the Nigerian civil war, in which millions of Igbo died, many due to starvation.

President Buhari had threatened to deal with IPOB “in the language they understand”, a statement many interpreted as a repeat of the civil war injustices meted out to Igbos.

IPOB is a group, proscribed by a Nigerian court, seeking secession of a chunk of Southern Nigeria.

“The tweet was not a threat, but a statement of fact,” Mr. Shehu’s statement said.

“A terrorist organisation (IPOB) poses a significant threat to the safety and security of Nigerian citizens.

“When the President said that they will be treated ‘in a language they understand,’ he merely reiterated that their force shall be met with force. It is a basic principle of security services response world over.

“This is not promotion of hate, but a pledge to uphold citizens’ right to freedom from harm. The government cannot be expected to capitulate to terrorists.

“IPOB is proscribed under Nigerian law. Its members murder innocent Nigerians. They kill policemen and set government property on fire. Now, they have amassed a substantial stockpile of weapons and bombs across the country.

“Twitter does not seem to appreciate the national trauma of our country’s civil war. This government shall not allow a recurrence of that tragedy.”

Open Grazing Ban: Southern Governors Did Not Provide Any Solution – Presidency

A group photograph of state governors in southern Nigeria after a meeting in Asaba, Delta State on May 11, 2021.

 

The Presidency has faulted the recent resolutions of the Southern Governors, including the ban on open grazing in the entire southern part of the country.

In a statement on Monday, the President’s Senior Special Assistant on Media and Publicity, Garba Shehu, believes the Governors have failed to provide any solution to the lingering crisis between farmers and herders in the country.

“It is very clear that there was no solution offered from their (the Governors’) resolutions to the herder-farmer clashes that have been continuing in our country for generations,” he said.

Shehu added, “But the citizens of the Southern States – indeed citizens of all States of Nigeria – have a right to expect their elected leaders and representatives to find answers to challenges of governance and rights, and not to wash their hands off hard choices by, instead, issuing bans that say: “not in my State”.

State Governors in the South had resolved to ban open grazing and movement of cattle by foot in the region following a meeting held on May 11 in Asaba, the Delta State capital.

They had called for the restructuring of the country along with fiscal federalism, devolution of powers, and state policing, as well as asked President Muhammadu Buhari to convene a national dialogue to address the agitations by various groups in the region.

Reacting to the series of calls made by the Governors, Shehu explained that the President has expressed a strong resolve to address the conflicts of herders and farmers in a sustained and lasting manner.

He was hopeful that this would lead to the emergence of a permanent solution to the frequent clashes between both parties, as well as the associated problem of the gun-wielding killer herdsmen.

 

‘Worried More Than Any Other Citizen’

The President’s spokesman noted that his principal had approved a number of specific measures to bring a permanent end to the frequent skirmishes as recommended by the Minister of Agriculture, Sabo Nanono, in a report he submitted.

Presidential spokesman Garba Shehu appeared on Channels Television's Sunrise Daily on February 1, 2020.
A file photo of Garba Shehu.

 

He stated that President Buhari signed off on the report in April, accusing the Southern Governors of acts of politicking intended to demonstrate their power by banning open grazing in their various States.

According to Shehu, the ban on open grazing is of questionable legality, given the constitutional right of all Nigerians to enjoy the same rights and freedoms within every one of the 36 States and the Federal Capital Territory (FCT) – regardless of the State of their birth or residence.

“Fortunately, this declaration has been pre-empted, for whatever it is intended to achieve, and Mr President, who has rightly been worried about these problems more than any other citizen in consultation with farmers and herders alike, commissioned and approved an actionable plan of rehabilitating grazing reserves in the States, starting with those that are truly committed to the solution and compliant with stated requirements.

“With veterinary clinics, water points for animals, and facilities for herders and their families, including schooling – through these rehabilitated reserves, the Federal Government is making far-reaching and practical changes allowing for different communities to co-exist side-by-side: supporting farmers to till their fields, herders to rear their livestock, and Nigerians everywhere to be safe,” he said.

The presidential spokesman said the entire country was aware of the strain the COVID-19 pandemic has taken on public finances – for both Federal and States.

He, however, noted that the federal funding for the project that has been delayed was being partly unlocked and actual work for the full actualisation of the modern reserve system in a few of the consenting States would take off in June.

Osinbajo Has Not Declared Interest In 2023 Presidential Race – Aide

Vice President Yemi Osinbajo

 

The Vice President, Professor Yemi Osinbajo has not yet declared interest to run for the 2023 presidential election.

This is according to his media aide, Laolu Akande, who disclosed this via a statement issued on Monday.

“Prof. Osinbajo has not declared any interest whatsoever in the 2023 election, but he is rather focused on working in his capacity as Vice President in the current administration to address all the compelling issues in the country and concerns of Nigerians, including finding effective and lasting solutions to the security challenges,” he said.

“Therefore, we ask that people desist from such unhelpful permutations while we all deal together with the challenges confronting us as Nigerians, and resolve them for the benefit of our people, peace, and prosperity in the land.”

Akande’s reaction followed a volunteer group mobilising support for Osinbajo ahead of the 2023 presidential election.

The vice president’s spokesman said Osinbajo “is not in any way connected to this website or the group behind it and considers such an enterprise an unnecessary distraction.”

READ ALSO: Makinde Hosts Wike, Tambuwal, 12 Other PDP Governors In Oyo

Osinbajo is one of the politicians rumoured to be nursing a presidential ambition as Nigerians gear up for the next election cycle which is about two years from now.

The vice president, a lecturer and pastor, was a running mate to the then APC presidential candidate, Muhammadu Buhari in 2015.

President Buhari will complete his constitutionally permissible two terms of eight years in office in 2023.

The APC will likely hand its presidential ticket to the south of Nigeria–a region where Osinbajo and former Lagos State Governor, Bola Tinubu come from.

There Was An Attempt To Burgle Buhari’s Chief Of Staff’s Residence – Presidency

A file photo of the Chief of Staff to President Muhammdu Buhari, Professor Ibrahim Gambari.

 

There was an attempt to burgle the residence of Professor Ibrahim Gambari, the Chief of Staff to President Muhammadu Buhari, the Presidency has said.

The Senior Special Assistant to the President on Media and Publicity, Garba Shehu, confirmed that the incident occurred very early on Monday morning.

His confirmation followed the report by an online news medium, Peoples Gazette, that gunmen suspected to be robbers invaded the residences of Gambari and another senior aide to the President, Abubakar Maikano – the Admin Officer, located close to the Presidential Villa in Abuja.

Quoting administration officials and security sources at the villa, the news outfit said that the incident forced Gambari and Maikano to abandon their residences.

The burglars were said to have raided the two houses where they reportedly packed money and other valuable assets.

 

‘A Foolish Attempt’

While he was silent on the purported incident at Maikano’s residence, Shehu noted that Gambari confirmed what he described as a foolish attempt to burgle his house.

“The Chief of Staff, Professor Ibrahim Gambari, has confirmed that there “was a foolish attempt” to burgle his residence at 3:00am this (Monday) morning, but it turned out to be unsuccessful,” the President’s spokesman said in a tweet.

He added, “Professor Gambari, whose house is on a street next to the Villa, has assured that there is nothing to worry about from the incident.”

According to Peoples Gazette, the residences of the two senior aides to the President were thoroughly ransacked and no one has yet to be arrested in connection with the incidents.

This comes amid the disturbing rate of insecurity in the country with several calls on the Federal Government to secure the lives of the people and their properties.

Read the tweets by Shehu below:

Greenfield Students Kidnap: ‘We Share Anguish Of Parents’ – Presidency

 

The Federal Government on Tuesday said they share the anguish of parents of the abducted students of Greenfield University.

The is coming 15 days after gunmen stormed Greenfield University located along the Kaduna–Abuja Highway in Chikun Local Government Area, and kidnapped several students.

The kidnappers have since killed five of the students and threatened to kill 17 of them still in captivity if a ransom of N100 million and 10 motorcycles are not delivered to them.

RELATED:

Parents Of Abducted Greenfield University Students Seek Govt Assistance

Panic As Bandits Threaten To Kill 17 Abducted Students

Bandits Release One Abducted Kaduna Varsity Student 

The presidency in a series on Tweets said they share the anguish of the parents of the victims and working with Kaduna State Government to bring this ‘tragic saga to an end.’

“We deeply share the anguish of the parents of the abducted Greenfield University students. The Federal Government through the military & intelligence agencies is working to support the Kaduna State Govt to bring this tragic saga to an end with no further loss of innocent life.

“We will ensure that good triumphs over evil, & that all of the bandits & criminals terrorizing innocent lives & communities are brought to book. This is a time for all Nigerians to unite, regardless of religion, ethnicity or partisan affiliation—against a common, dastardly enemy,” Presidency tweeted on Tuesday night.

 

 

Negotiating With Bandits

One of the kidnapped students was released on Tuesday, May 4, following threats by the bandits to kill the remaining 17 students in their custody if their parents and the state government fail to pay the sum of N100 million as ransom.

The mother of the student, Lauritta Attahiru confirmed the release of her son to Channels Television, on Tuesday.

She however refused to give details of how her son was released and whether a ransom was paid or not.

Some of the parents however claim that the mother negotiated and paid ransom to the bandits privately before her son was released.

Parents of the victims have continued to negotiate with bandits despite the government insisting that they won’t negotiate with bandits.

The parents who did not want their names mentioned due to fear told Channels Television that the fresh demand of N100 million by the bandits is in addition to the over  N50 million ransom paid to them over the weekend, with the assurance to release their children.

In addition to the N100 million, the parents said the bandits also demanded ten new motorcycles before the end of Tuesday, May 4th, failure which they will have no choice but to kill the remaining 17 students in their custody.

Those Unwilling To Forgive Pantami Are The Problem – Garba Shehu


Mr Garba Shehu has slammed the critics of the Minister of Communication and Digital Economy, Dr Isa Pantami, for their unwillingness to forgive him.

He believes the failure to forgive the minister for the comments he made in support of extremist groups in the past is worse than the offence he committed.

The President’s Senior Special Assistant on Media and Publicity made the remarks on Friday during his appearance on Politics Today on Channels Television.

He said, “I am saying to you that people who stand in criticism of this position of the man who said he had wronged himself, he had wronged the society, and has apologised that he has changed, and they are not willing to forgive to move on; they are the ones who are the problem.”

Pantami has been widely criticised by various individuals and groups for the comments he made in the past in support of extremist groups.

A file photo of Presidential spokesman, Garba Shehu.

 

‘We Change And Transform’

Recently, the remarks he was said to have made many years ago sparked debate and controversy, with many calls for his resignation or removal by the President.

The minister has since renounced his comments and said he was a changed person, but that was not enough for those calling for his removal.

Rather than sacking the minister as widely demanded, the Presidency said it was in support of Pantami and all Nigerians to ensure they receive fair treatment, fair prices, and fair protection in ICT services.

(FILE) The Minister of Communication and Digital Economy, Isa Pantami.

 

Defending the government’s position, Shehu stressed that it was wrong for any individual to deny their fellow beings a chance to be a better person.

“In all our lives, we change and transform … we don’t remain in the same position. The people just assume that he cannot change; if the One who created you gives it to you that from being bad, you can become good, what tells you to deny some other persons this right?” he questioned.

The President’s spokesman added, “They are the ones who are deeply intolerant, and who are telling the world that in this country, we have the set of people who don’t forgive, who don’t want to move on; they are the problem of the society.”

Buhari’s Administration Stands Behind Pantami – Presidency

A file photo of the Minister of Communication and Digital Economy, Isa Pantami.

 

The Muhammadu Buhari administration has declared its support for the Minister of Communications and Digital Economy, Dr Isa Pantami, amid calls for his resignation or removal.

Mr Garba Shehu, the Senior Special Assistant to the President on Media and Publicity, made the position of the government known in a statement on Thursday.

“The administration stands behind Minister Pantami and all Nigerian citizens to ensure they receive fair treatment, fair prices, and fair protection in ICT services,” he said.

Pantami was widely criticised recently for the comments he made in the past in support of extremist groups.

The remarks he was said to have made many years ago sparked debate and controversy just recently, with many calling for his resignation while others called on President Muhammadu Buhari to relieve him of his duties.

 

Subjected To A Cancel Campaign?

Although the embattled minister has since renounced his comments and said he was a changed person, it was not enough to calm the call for his removal.

In his reaction, Shehu claimed that Pantami was being subjected to a “cancel campaign” instigated by those who seek his removal.

According to him, such persons do not really care what he may or may not have said in the past because they will profit should the minister be stopped from making decisions that improve the lives of everyday Nigerians.

The President’s spokesman stated that Pantami had publicly and permanently condemned his earlier utterances as wrong and would not repeat them.

Despite the calls for his removal, the minister attended the virtual Federal Executive Council (FEC) which was presided by President Muhammadu Buhari On Wednesday.

The Minister of Information and Culture, Lai Mohammed, had told reporters at the end of the meeting that the issue of Pantami’s removal was not discussed.

Read the statement below:

STATE HOUSE PRESS RELEASE

STATEMENT BY THE PRESIDENCY ON RECENT CAMPAIGN AGAINST THE MINISTER OF COMMUNICATIONS AND DIGITAL ECONOMY

Today, there is an unfortunate fashion in public discourse that makes leaders in politics, religion, and civil society liable in the present for every statement they have ever made in the past – no matter how long ago, and even after they have later rejected them.

This insidious phenomenon seeks to cancel the careers of others on the basis of a thing they have said, regardless of when they said it.

The Minister of Communications and Digital Economy, Dr Isa Ali Ibrahim Pantami is, currently, subject to a “cancel campaign” instigated by those who seek his removal.

They do not really care what he may or may not have said some 20 years ago: that is merely the instrument they are using to attempt to “cancel” him. But they will profit should he be stopped from making decisions that improve the lives of everyday Nigerians.

The Minister has, rightly, apologised for what he said in the early 2000s. The views were absolutely unacceptable then, and would be equally unacceptable today, were he to repeat them. But he will not repeat them – for he has publicly and permanently condemned his earlier utterances as wrong.

In the 2000s, the Minister was a man in his twenties; next year he will be 50. Time has passed, and people and their opinions – often rightly – change.

But all discerning Nigerians know this manufactured dispute is nothing to do with the Minister’s prior words, but solely concern his actions in the present.

This Administration is committed to improving the lives of all Nigerians – and that includes ensuring they are not over-charged or under-protected for those services on which modern life depends.

The Minister has been leading the charge against illegal data deductions and pricing; he has revolutionised the government’s virtual public engagement to respond to COVID-19 and save taxpayers’ money; he has established ICT start-up centres to boost youth entrepreneurship and create jobs; he has changed policy to ensure locally produced ICT content is used by ministries, starting with his own; and he has deregistered some 9.2 million SIMs – ending the ability for criminals and terrorists to flagrantly use mobile networks undetected.

In two short years, Minister Pantami has driven the contribution of the ICT sector to the GDP to more than 18 percent, making it one of the top two playing a critical role in the emergence of the economy from the COVID 19-induced recession.

In putting people first, the Minister and this administration have made enemies. There are those in the opposition who see success and want it halted by any means.

And there is now well-reported information that alleges newspaper editors rebuffed an attempt to financially induce them to run a smear campaign against the minister by some ICT companies, many of which do indeed stand to lose financially through lower prices and greater consumer protections.

The government is now investigating the veracity behind these claims of attempted inducement, and – should they be found to hold credence – police and judicial action must be expected.

The Administration stands behind Minister Pantami and all Nigerian citizens to ensure they receive fair treatment, fair prices, and fair protection in ICT services.

Garba Shehu

Senior Special Assistant to the President

(Media & Publicity)

April 22, 2021

Chibok Abduction: Release Of Schoolgirls Is Work In Progress, Says Presidency

A file photo of Presidential spokesman, Garba Shehu

 

The Presidency on Wednesday reiterated its commitment to securing the release of the missing students of Government Girls Secondary School, Chibok, Borno State, saying rescue efforts is a work in progress.

A statement issued by the Senior Special Assistant to the President, Garba Shehu, reassured parents and all concerned citizens that the safe return of the students “remain constantly on the minds of government as they are always on the minds of their parents.”

Gunmen suspected to be Boko Haram insurgents had on April 14, 2014 stormed the school facilities and whisked away over 276 schoolgirls, an incident that drew widespread condemnation across the world.

Although most of the 276 girls escaped or were later released, more than 112 girls are still missing.

READ ALSO: Seven Years After, Calls For Rescue Of Missing Chibok Schoolgirls Continue

Today marks the seventh anniversary of that tragic incident, with calls being renewed for the Federal Government to step up its efforts in facilitating the return of the schoolgirls.

But the presidential spokesman called on Nigerians to continue to remember the nation’s military in their prayers.

He said, “No one is giving up hope here. Efforts to secure their release through various channels and activities of the security and intelligence agencies remain on course.

“The recent decisive push by the military against the terrorists gives hope that a breakthrough is possible and could happen anytime soon.

“The Presidency asks for support, understanding and prayers for the military as they discharge their historic mandate to quickly finish off the insurgency war and free all citizens held hostage.”

Nigeria To Receive Six Super Tucanos Combat Aircraft In Mid-July – Presidency

A file photo of a Super Tucano.
A file photo of a Super Tucano.

 

Nigeria is expected to receive six of the 12 Super Tucanos ordered from the United States in mid-July, the presidency said on Tuesday.

According to presidential spokesman, Garba Shehu, 14 Nigerian pilots are currently training with the aircraft at the Moody Air Force Base in Georgia.

Mr. Garba posted a video of what appeared to be test-flight operations on his verified Twitter handle.

The video was credited to the Sierra Nevada Corporation, a private American aerospace firm.

The announcement comes after the Chief of Army Staff, Lieutenant-General Ibrahim Attahiru, appeared before a committee of lawmakers at the House of Representatives on Monday.

 

The committee is reviewing the purchase, use, and control of arms, ammunition, and related hardware by the military, paramilitary, and other law enforcement agencies in Nigeria.

READ ALSO: Arms Procurement Were Done By Specific Individuals, Invite Them – COAS Tells Reps

In March, the National Security Adviser, Babagana Monguno had been quoted by the BBC as suggesting that funds for arms procurement had gone missing under the immediate past Service Chiefs.

The Office of the National Security Adviser later put out a statement saying Monguno had been quoted out of context.

But with an insurgency still alive in the country’s North-East and the increasing threat of banditry in North-West, critics have continued to question how well-equipped the country’s military is.

Mr. Shehu himself has admitted that the army has had some problem with procuring equipment, as they arrive “in bits and in pieces.”

According to Mr. Shehu, during an interview on Channels Television’s Politics Today last March, procurements made have not been fully delivered.

“In August 2018, they allowed the Nigerian government to buy 12 super Tucano aircraft suitable for the kind of war we are fighting in the North-East,” he said at the time.

“In addition to that, other arms of the military have also made procurements. The navy has done nearly 100 percent of their procurement — equipment delivered.

“The airforce has bought a number of attack helicopters — 35 helicopters from Ukraine. Some of them have been commissioned on national television.

“We have bought a lot of drones, but with the army, there have been problems with procurement. Equipment has been coming bits and in pieces.

“This is not ideal. In fact, our biggest procurement is coming from the UAE. As I speak to you now, it is held up in a situation only diplomacy will resolve. We were talking to them last week; the Nigerian minister of defence actually had a meeting with the ambassador of the UAE to Nigeria, and the idea is to resolve this so that the equipment held up will be released. We need them here.”

Medical Trip: No Emergency, Buhari Not In Any Sick Condition – Presidency

President Muhammadu Buhari is seen in this picture taken on March 30, 2021, waving as he embarks on a medical trip to the United Kingdom.

 

The Presidency says President Muhammadu Buhari has only travelled to the United Kingdom for a routine medical check-up.

Speaking while featuring as a guest on Channels Television’s Politics Today on Tuesday, Mr Garba Shehu noted that there was no serious condition that prompted the President’s trip.

“It is a medical trip and there is absolutely no urgency, no emergency; the President is not in any sick condition.

“It is a routine medical check-up; the President has undertaken this with a set of doctors that he has retained over many years,” said Shehu who is the Senior Special Assistant to the President on Media and Publicity.

President Buhari departed the Presidential Villa for the Nnamdi Azikiwe International Airport in Abuja at about 2:30pm after which he proceeded to London for a routine medical check-up.

Since assuming office, he has embarked on several trips to the United Kingdom to seek medical care, but he has not been to the country since the outbreak of the COVID-19 pandemic.

The Presidency said the President, who met with the service chiefs before he travelled, was expected back in the country in the second week of April.

 

For Shehu, his principal has been in perfect health but decided to go on the medical trip just as he had done in the past.

“He has done this before he came into office in 2015 and he has continued to do that without any disruptions but for last year (2020), he could not make it because of the travel restrictions that the COVID-19 pandemic has imposed on the global community.

“We are hoping that the President will come back in good time and continue all the work that he is doing. The President has enjoyed an extraordinarily good round of health,” he said.

The presidential aide also described President Buhari as a law-abiding citizen, saying he would observe the COVID-19 protocols put in place by the British authorities.

Bureau De Change Facilitating Money To Terrorists – Presidency

 

The Presidency on Tuesday said it has identified Bureau De Change (BDCs) facilitating money to terrorists, insisting that people will be shocked when details of the investigation on how the sums of money were transferred to the group will be fully disclosed. 

Mister Shehu said the government will soon make public the names of those who are behind these evil acts.

“Bureaus de change are facilitating money to terrorists. We have already worked with the UAE,” a presidential media aide, Garba Shehu said during an interview on Channels Television’s Politics Today on Tuesday.

“Convictions have been achieved of Nigerians who are transferring money to Boko Haram terrorists and this also happens domestically. And I tell you that by the time we finish this investigation, the shocking details will surprise many Nigerians.”

A file photo of bundles of money.

 

He also said places of worship are used to harbour killers of security agents in the country, assuring that heads of intelligence agencies are working on it.

“It is shocking to many Nigerian that places of worship and farmland are places where killers of policemen, naval officers and military are being harboured.  This discovery will shock you. But this is going on all over the country,” the Senior Special Assistant, Media and Publicity to the President, noted.

“The new Service chiefs are working with the Inspector General and heads of intelligence agencies and there is a clear lead.”

‘A Clear Connection’

 

The presidential aide equally said there is a link between kidnapping, banditry and terrorism, corroborating an earlier comment by the Governor of Ekiti State, Kayode Fayemi who argued that proceeds of banditry are used to fund terrorism.

“There is a clear connection now established between kidnapping, banditry and the terrorism in the country, especially in terms of financing.”

President Muhammadu Buhari had earlier in the day met with the country’s security chiefs and ordered them to clear out bandits and kidnappers.

READ ALSO: Recruit 50 Million Youths Into Army To Tackle Insecurity – Tinubu Tells FG

While speaking about the meeting, Shehu explained that the president equally commended them for their efforts in tackling the nation’s security challenges.

“He really was appreciative of the positive and pragmatic approach they have brought since the assumption of office,” he added.

“He has commended their decisiveness in dealing with the security challenges of the country and he has urged them to sustain the momentum. All the problems have not been solved but we are getting somewhere.”

 

 

 

Arms Fund: Presidency Says No Money Is Missing, Explains How $1bn Was Spent

 

The controversy trailing the allegation of missing arms fund under the leadership of the former service chiefs has continued to generate mixed reactions from different parts of the country.

Major General Babagana Monguno, who is the National Security Adviser (NSA), was said to have alleged during an interview with BBC Hausa Service that the funds meant for arms procurement were missing under the former security chiefs.

While his office stated that the NSA was quoted out of context and did not categorically make such a claim, the Presidency avowed that no such money was missing.

“I imagine that you are talking about the $1 billion taken from the Excess Crude Account (ECA) with the consent of state governors and was used for military procurement.

“I want to assure you that nothing of that money is missing,” Mr Garba Shehu said on Friday when he featured as a guest on Channels Television’s Politics Today.

He added, “The reference by it in the interview with Hausa Service of the BBC by the National Security Adviser, I think, has been misconstrued and mistranslated.”

A file photo of the National Security Adviser, Major-General Babagana Monguno
A file photo of the National Security Adviser, Major General Babagana Monguno.

 

Held Up In UAE

Shehu, who is the Senior Special Assistant to the President on Media and Publicity, clarified the controversy triggered by the claim and went further to give an insight into the procurements made by the military since the funds were withdrawn.

He noted that the procurements made have not been fully delivered and about $536 million of the money was paid directly in a government-to-government transaction with the United States government.

“In August 2018, they (the US) allowed the Nigerian Government to buy 12 Super Tucano aircraft suitable for the kind of war we are fighting in the North East. In addition to that, other arms of the military have also made procurements.

“The Nigerian Navy has done nearly 100 per cent of their procurements equipment delivered; the Nigerian Air Force has bought a number of attack helicopters – 35 i-helicopters from Ukraine,” the presidential aide outlined.

He, however, said there have been problems with the procurements made by the Nigerian Army, stressing that the equipment have been coming in bits and in pieces.

Shehu disclosed that Nigeria’s biggest procurement was coming from the United Arab Emirates (UAE).

“As I speak to you, it is held up in a situation which only diplomacy will resolve. The Nigerian Minister of Defence actually had a meeting with the Ambassador of the UAE to Nigeria and the idea is to resolve this so that these equipment held up will be released.

“We need them here, all these procurements are ongoing; nothing can be bought on the shelf, they are bought on order. The NSA did not make accusations of misappropriation because there is none in dealing with this matter,” he insisted.