Bandits better armed than our Army – Sen. Ndume

*They use AK-49, while our Army still use AK-47, he says

*Military spokespersons contradict him

By Williams Orji

The Chairman, Senate Committee on Army, Sen. Ali Ndume, on Wednesday said the Nigerian Army is being “grossly” underfunded by the Nigerian government.

Addressing newsmen shortly after the budget defence by the Nigerian Army at the National Assembly, Ndume said “the bandits are better equipped than the Army”.

Ndume who represents Borno-South at the Red Chamber had just rounded up an oversight tour on some Army establishments across the country with his Committee on Army.

But statements on the war against insurgency from the Coordinators of Defence Media Operations, contradict Sen. Ndume’s position as none of the arms said to have been recovered from terrorists was AK-49.

The lawmaker observed that “the difference between the Nigerian Army and the bandits is that, they (Army) are trained and also wear uniforms.

“Some of the bandits operate with AK-49, the latest AKs, while the Army are still using AK-47”.

He said even the bandits have devised means of getting fake Army uniforms, so they could disguise as Nigeria’s military personnel.

The lawmaker lamented that monies meant for procuring arms and ammunitions are not regularly released, stressing that it remains a major hindrance on the war against insurgency in the country.

On the 2020 budget performance, Ndume said: “The money that was supposed to be given to them to buy equipment, buy arms and ammunitions, procure certain kits, only 64 per cent of that money was released.

“In fact, on top of that, it was 50 per cent that was released in July. The second batch of it was released just this week.

“Nigeria is at war, the whole of Nigerian Army budget is just about $1.3m. That’s at the level of Niger, Chad, Sudan and other poor countries”.

Ndume expressed worries that “even the little budget being proposed by the executive had no guarantee that this money will be released 100 per cent” to the Army.

He therefore proposed a significant increase in the budget for the Military in the 2021 budget, while calling on the authorities to also make budgeted fund available to them on time, expressing worry that “the procurement process for the Army takes longer time than other procurement circles in the budgetary systems”.

Ndume said: “Section 14(2) of the 1999 Constitution of Nigeria says, the purpose of every government is security and welfare of the citizens”, adding that, the budget of the country should principally tackle insecurity, which he noted is not so.

The ravaging effect of terrorists, bandits and kidnappers have so much over-stretched the Nigerian military, including their internal security operations they were also deployed to.

Even as the Military try to contain the devastations of these criminals, low budget and non-release of all the budgeted sum, have not permitted the military properly handle their statutory assignments.

However, on October 25, Maj-Gen John Enenche, Coordinator, Defence Media Operations, in a statement said that Troops of Operation FIRE BALL under Operation LAFIYA DOLE in a robust operations against Boko Haram/ Islamic State of West Province in the theatre, had on 21 October by troops of Special Response Area, Gajiram, deployed at Check Point 3, under Sector 3, “decisively dealt a heavy blow on BHT/ISWAP criminal elements”.

According to him, “the eagle-eyed troops who were on alert noticed unusual vehicles tailing the convoy of vehicles conveying Internally Displaced Persons from Maiduguri Cosmopolitan City to Baga town in order to infiltrate own position. The troops canalized the criminals and inflicted heavy casualty on them.

“After the ensuing fire fight, three Boko Haram terrorists were neutralized, one Gun Truck, one Anti Aircraft gun ,-ne AK-47 rifle, three Shells for making Improvised Explosive Device (IEDs) were captured.

“Further exploitation carried out by the resilient troops recovered additional two AK-47 rifles”.

Similarly, the Acting Director, Defence Media Operations, Brig.-Gen. Bernard Onyeuko, in a statement on October 30th in Abuja, said terrorists attempted an attack on Army Super Camp Damboa under 25 Brigade in Sector 2.

According to him, the criminals withdrew as they could not withstand the well-organised and determined soldiers during the encounter.

“The Boko Haram terrorists suffered severe casualties as 22 terrorists were neutralized and others escaped with varying degrees of gunshot wounds.

“Two Gun trucks were destroyed, while one NSV Anti Aircraft Gun, two Rocket Propelled Grenade Tubes, four PKT Machine guns, One General Purpose Machine Gun, one Browning machine gun, 12 Ak47 Rifles, one AK74 Rifle were recovered.

Also, last Tuesday, Brig.-Gen. Onyeuko, in a statement disclosed that troops had between November 7 and November 8 thwarted attempt by Boko Haram/ISWAP to infiltrate Buni Gari town in Yobe State and eliminated five of the insurgents.

According to him, troop recovered one fabricated Armoured Personnel Carrier (APC), one Gun Truck, one NSVT Anti Aircraft Gun, one QJC Anti Aircraft Gun, one Rocket Propelled Grenade Tube, one PKT gun, one GPMG, one QJC Extra Barrel, six AK-47 rifles, 311 rounds of 7.62mm NATO Ammunition from the encounter.

Onyeuko also disclosed that that troops of 151 Task Force Battalion deployed at Miyanti in Bama Local Government Area of Borno State, destroyed terrorists’ hideout and rescued one woman and three children on November 8th.

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