Contrary to denials by the Nigerian Army, soldiers engaging in counter-insurgency operations in the North-East have no adequate arms and ammunition, the House of Representatives Committee on Army has said.
The committee claimed that soldiers still rationed arms and ammunition in a bid to persecute the anti-terror war.
Chairman of the committee, Mr. Rima Shawulu, spoke on Friday in Abuja when he presented a report on the 2016 budget of the Army to the Committee on Appropriation.
His disclosure generated interest, as the Committee on Appropriation called on the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission to beam its searchlight on how the Army spent its money, just like it had already started with the Air Force.
The Committee on Appropriation, which is chaired by Mr. Abdulmumin Jibrin, has been collating reports on the 2016 budget from all standing committees of the House, preparatory to the passage of the budget in the second week of March by the National Assembly.
The standing committees laid their reports before the Committee on Appropriation after the various Ministries, Departments and Agencies they supervised had defended their proposals.
But Shawulu revealed that in the case of the Army, it discovered that funding for the welfare of soldiers and procurement of weapons remained inadequate.
The Army got N139bn this year, but Shawulu said that the money would not be enough because many soldiers still did not have arms and ammunition.
He said, “Soldiers are being given arms and ammunition to ration in the war front. Our soldiers have to be well-catered for so that they don’t have to fight with bare hands,” he told the committee.”
Shawulu also told the committee that the personnel allocation for the Army this year was short by N7.8bn.
He said the shortfall was in spite of the fact that the Army would recruit more personnel this year.
Shawulu said, “We have a situation where our soldiers are living in sub-human conditions with no housing accommodation. Most barracks have no perimeter fencing; the Amphibious Battalion in Calabar, for example, has no swimming pool for training purposes.”
However, members of the Committee on Appropriation expressed concern that despite the fact of getting its budget approved in tact yearly, soldiers were not provided with adequate facilities.
Jibrin said, “In all my years in the National Assembly, the Army has always had its budget approved intact.
“Perhaps, it is high time the EFCC probed how the Army spends its money.
“The anti-graft agency has just started with the Air Force and people are shouting. Maybe, the commission should probe the Army too; let us know what is happening to the money the Army gets every year.”
Meanwhile, the Committee on Appropriation closed the collation of the reports on the budget on Friday after many sub-committees made their presentations.
However, many sub-committees flouted the deadline given to them by the House Speaker, Mr. Yakubu Dogara, to submit all reports.
Jibrin announced that such committees would have to accept whatever provisions the Committee on Appropriation approved for their MDAs.
He said, “If not that the Senate delayed us for a week, we would have been done with this process before now and I expected our colleagues to take advantage of that delay by expediting action on their reports.
“But as it stands, we are likely to take that decision for them.”
Key sectoral committees, including power, works, army, navy and air force, made their presentations on Friday.