The Chairman of the Senate Committee on Army, Sen Ali Ndume on Wednesday, November 11, claimed that bandits are buying uniforms of the Nigerian Army from the market.
Ndume, who has always opposed the rehabilitation of repentant Boko Haram members, also revealed that those rehabilitated insurgents are using information from the Nigerian Army to attack military formations.
He disclosed these while speaking to journalists on Wednesday at the budget defence organized by the committee on Army.
“What I see that is the difference between the Nigerian army; and the bandits is that the Nigerian army is trained and they have uniform. Even that, the bandits, some of them take away the uniform from the Nigerian army; or they buy it from the market.
“Some of the bandits have better AK-47. I think they have what they call AK-49; the latest AK used by bandits and insurgents in the North East and North West.
“I want to use this opportunity to tell you the committee’s position that as a matter of urgency… the budget of the Nigerian army should be increased.”
He noted that people who are directly or indirectly involved with Boko Haram should be used as an example.
“We are still calling on the Nigerian government that those that are directly or indirectly involved in Boko Haram activities should be brought to book and used as an example. I think we have not been up and doing on that.
“I am in disagreement with the Government; on the issue of deradicalising and reintegrating (Boko Haram repentants). I still maintain that. You can’t be resettling people, pampering them while the war is on.
“The committee is on the same page and I believe many Nigerians are on the same page with this. In my village, mallams that are Muslims, not ordinary Muslims but Mallams, elders above 60; quote me, 75 of them were taken to an abattoir and slaughtered by Boko Haram.
“Can you imagine that the Nigerian army or the Nigerian government is saying that because these people have gone to repent, or they say they have their hands up, you bring them back and pamper them?
“In addition to that, the recent attack in Damboa was carried out by a repentant giving information as to the movement of the army, the general that was killed was a victim”.
Ndume expressed dismay at the budgetary allocation to the Nigerian Army, while describing the allocation as inadequate.
“I want to say to the public that in a budget of N13 trillion and in the period of war, you can’t budget less than N30 billion to the Nigerian Army. That amount I have said is grossly inadequate especially now that we have challenges everywhere.
“The Nigerian army to my knowledge are operating in 32 or 33 states. All these require money; and with that kind of capital, it means it is that money that will be used to buy ammunition; arms; other equipment that will be used to carry out their operations.
“The army needs money to operate effectively. But this committee will have to be convinced about what you need; and what it is needed for so that we can be able to support that position.
“Last year, it was the same thing. The budget, we cried out was grossly inadequate. I have the committee’s mandate to say N27 billion as Capital for the Nigerian army out of a budget of N13 trillion is (small).”
Asked why the parliament cannot increase the budget of the Nigerian Army; since it has the power, Ndume noted that they want to collaboratively work with other arms of government.
“The three Arms of government are supposed to work hand in hand. We have engaged the Nigerian army and we are going to engage the executive to make them understand that based on what we oversight; what they budgeted; they need to increase the budget of the Nigerian army.
“So far, we are on the same page with the executive. We are going to work together and make them understand that there is a need. Some of them do these things and present it to Mr. President without him knowing the implications”, he added.