The Nigerian Army has removed a defence journalist, Amadin Uyi, from its Department of Public Relations’ WhatsApp group after the journalist asked questions about N2.6trillion military spending on arms.
Uyi, also the Abuja Bureau Chief of News Central TV, was “excommunicated” by the army on Wednesday – a day after the Chief of the Army Staff, Lt Gen Ibrahim Attahiru, at the quarterly conference in Abuja, admitted that the military was short of logistics’ supply for the Boko Haram insurgency war.
The journalist on the army’s DAPR platform had requested to know how N2.6trillion – which was the total military budget from 2015 to 2019 under the former service chiefs – was spent, a large chunk of which came to the army’s coffers.
The inquiry had been directed to the Director, Army Public Relations, Brig-Gen Mohammed Yerima.
But instead of replying to the journalist’s question, overzealous and power-drunk army personnel removed him from the Whatsapp group, and no answer was supplied to the question.
“The COAS conference has posed many questions that need answers. The Chief of Army Staff says he will address logistics challenges; this is shocking because about 2.6 trillion naira has been spent between 2015 and 2019. We want to know what he meant by this statement,” Uyi had asked on the army WhatsApp group.
“He also said he had given the directive that more weapons be procured; the question is, with N2.6trillion spent in 4 years, does it mean that funds were not enough to buy enough weapons?
“Thirdly, he (The COAS) talked about back-loading damaged and unserviceable equipment in the theatre and instructing that they be repaired immediately. Does it mean they were abandoned in the past; I will need answers to these,” the journalist had added.
Reacting to his removal from the army group, NewsCentral TV said it “stands By Amadin Uyi” in a series of tweets on its Twitter timeline on Friday.
“We also request, for the sake of its credibility, that the Nigerian Army address these questions raised by our correspondent, #AmadinUyi, who has conducted himself with the utmost professionalism since this went down,” the station added.
SaharaReporters, on Thursday, March 18, had exclusively reported that the immediate past service chiefs, who held the military command under President Muhammadu Buhari for about six years, spent more than N2.659trillion on military arms and ammunition between 2015 and 2019.
According to military records, SaharaReporters had revealed that the N2.659trillion is outside the controversial $1billion Excess Crude Account Fund, which Buhari approved in April 2018 despite public outcry.
The N2.659 trillion for military arms was the total for 2015, 2016, 2017, 2018 and 2019 and was shared among the immediate past Chief of Army Staff, Lt Gen Tukur Buratai (retd.), the former Chief of Defence Staff, General Abayomi Olonisakin (retd.), the former Chief of Naval Staff, Vice Admiral Ibok-Ete Ibas (retd.) and the former Chief of Air Staff, Air Marshal Sadique Abubakar (retd.).
The breakdown had shown that “in 2015, the military spent N397billion on arms; in 2016, N444billion; in 2017, N495billion; in N2018; N654billion; in 2019; N669billion.”
According to the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute, a Sweden-based group that documents military transactions globally, Nigeria within these years had bought arms from at least 12 countries.