Former Senate President, Dr. Abubakar Bukola Saraki, has debunked an allegation by the Muslim Rights Concern that the 8th Senate under his leadership rejected President Muhammadu Buhari’s request for $1 billion for the purchase of arms, thereby weakening the administration’s efforts to effectively address insecurity in the country.
A statement by the former Senate President’s media office, entitled: “MURIC Lied: 8th Senate Aided, Not Hindered President Buhari’s Fight Against Insecurity,” signed by Oluwole Onemola, described the claim as an “unenlightened propaganda piece” which is “factually and constitutionally incorrect.”
It said the 8th Senate never rejected any funding request for security but only insisted that the due process provided by the constitution be adhered to even by the executive.
Onemola’s statement read: “Professor Ishaq Akintola’s statement intentionally attempts to re-write history by falsely suggesting that the Saraki-led 8th Senate ‘rejected the President’s request for $1billion for the purchase of arms.’
“This is why, in order to enlighten the public about the facts, and once again put it on record for posterity’s sake, it is important to reiterate the following points:
“On Wednesday, the 25th of April 2018, the then-President of the Senate, Sen. Dr. Abubakar Bukola Saraki, read a letter from President Muhammadu Buhari, which stated that he had granted ‘anticipatory approval’ for the release of $496,374,470. These funds were said to have been paid directly to the Treasury of the United States (U.S.) government.
“However, in line with the 1999 Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, the powers of appropriation are specifically and only conferred on the National Assembly in Sections 80 to 84. Nowhere in our constitution is the principle of ‘anticipatory approval’ provided for.
“This means that Mr. President did not follow the proper procedure during this constitutionally-flawed and thoroughly unprecedented ‘anticipatory approval.’ Still, the National Assembly went ahead to approve the money that the executive has started disbursing without approval. Thus, $1billion was approved by the 8th National Assembly.
“We all need to remember that at this time, based on allegations of human rights violations by the military, there was a U.S. government ban on the sale of offensive equipment to Nigeria in compliance with Leahy’s Law.
“However, it was only after the U.S. Congressional Delegation met with the Nigerian National Assembly delegation in Nigeria on Monday, August 28th, 2017, that reassurances were made by the Nigerian Senate President on behalf of the National Assembly — that the Nigerian National Assembly delegation promised that it would look into the allegations of human rights violations, and work to prevent any future recurrence.
“It was at this time that the U.S. Congressional delegation, which was led by Senator Chris Coons and Ambassador Symington agreed to make the lifting of the U.S ban on the sale of military hardware to Nigeria one of their priorities. It was after this meeting that the U.S. Congress recommended the sale of the Tucano Jets to Nigeria to President Trump.”
The statement also noted that to ensure that the Nigerian Armed Forces were properly equipped, the 8th Senate invited the Service Chiefs on several occasions to the plenary to discuss funding for their operations, and to ensure that they were well-equipped to handle the necessary security challenges.
Onemola said the public, especially Prof. Ishaq Akintola, should be well aware that the 8th Senate had a clear-cut track record of working to tackle issues related to insecurity head-on.”
According to him, the 8th Senate in its four-year tenure considered over 101 security-related motions/point of orders in four years; referred 57 security-related matters to its relevant committees; decided 42 security-related matters on the Senate Plenary floor; had 38 security-sector interventions in the form of bills; and held 14 public/investigative hearings on security-related issues.
He therefore advised the public to disregard MURIC’s “utterly biased and factually devoid statement.”