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Military lists challenges in tackling Boko Haram, insecurity in Nigeria

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Major General Christopher Musa, the Chief of Defence Staff, bemoaned on Tuesday the postponement of the trial of individuals believed to be members of Boko Haram, stating that a court specifically for terrorists need to be established.

Musa also justified the massive budget for arms purchases when he made these remarks on Tuesday when he and other security chiefs arrived before the House of Representatives to start a sectoral debate.

The CDS clarified that since Nigeria does not produce military hardware, the enormous investment was negligible given the value of the naira because weapons were bought in US dollars.

In addition to CDS, other chiefs of security who addressed the House were Inspector General of Police Kayode Egbetokun; Vice Admiral Emmanuel Ogalla, Chief of Naval Staff; Taoreed Lagbaja, Chief of Army Staff; and Air Marshal Hassan Abubakar, Chief of Air Staff.

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Speaking on the counter-insurgency war, Musa lamented the slow pace of prosecution of the criminal elements arrested by military troops, saying “There were a lot of Boko Haram elements that were captured and kept. We have kept them for five or six years.

“We can only provide protection for them. Some of them have been found wanting but no prosecution. Keeping them for this lengthy period, everybody is accusing the armed forces of keeping them against their human rights but we cannot prosecute. That is one aspect.

“Another aspect of the judiciary is this: you do all your efforts, you make an arrest, you hand over, but before you enter your vehicle, the man has been released. Now you have risked yourself in doing that. By the time he is released, he goes to tell the people who you are or family members and you are at risk. So, it gets to a stage where the security forces are not even willing to do anything because when they make an arrest, the person is released.

“That is one area we need to look into. We must have special courts that can handle these things.”

Musa also bemoaned the nearly complete lack of domestic armament production in the nation, pointing out that despite the significant financial commitment for defence and security during the previous few years, the development meant that the security agencies frequently did not get value for money.

He said, “We don’t produce what we need in Nigeria and if you do not produce what you need, that means you are at the beck and call of the people that produce these items. All the items we procured, were bought with hard currency, none in naira. Most times when funds are released, by the time you turn these funds into dollars, they can only get us very little.

“For example, during the last regime, about $1bn was set aside for defense procurements. Out of that amount, over $600m was for the procurement of the aircraft. So the whole money had gone.

“For any ammunition we buy, we buy it in dollars and we spend in millions. So many times when people see that funds are being released to the armed forces, they think it is so much but by the time you convert them to dollars, you do not get so much.

“One precision missile for our drone costs $5,000 ; so imagine how many we would be able to use and how many we can procure. Those are the challenges,” he said.

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