Nigeria’s Buhari Starts Probe of Weapon Purchases Since 2007

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Nigerian President Muhammadu Buhari ordered an investigation into the armed forces’ procurement of military hardware and munitions since 2007, the latest move in his anti-corruption drive.

Buhari’s National Security Adviser, Babagana Monguno, opened an investigative committee to look for irregularities during the period and suggest recommendations for “streamlining” military purchases, spokesman Femi Adesina said in a statement on Monday.

“It comes against the background of the myriad of challenges that the Nigerian armed forces have faced in the course of ongoing counter-insurgency operations in the northeast,” said Adesina. The probe “is in keeping with President Buhari’s determination to stamp out corruption and irregularities.”

Buhari, who took office in May, has pledged to crush the Boko Haram Islamist uprising, re-equip the military and clamp down on graft. The government is struggling to contain attacks and bombings by the militants, who have killed thousands and displaced more than 1.5 million displaced in its six-year insurgency.

During his election campaign in February, Buhari told a conference that he would audit how the military spent $32 billion in the past five years, despite little success against the rebels.

Military Deficit

Anti-corruption groups such as Transparency International say spending by the Nigerian armed forces is opaque and soldiers have complained of being under paid, poorly equipped and overstretched.

Adesina acknowledged there was an “apparent deficit in military platforms” causing low morale among troops.

The Nigerian military has also struggled to obtain arms, after the U.S. blocked the sale of helicopter gunships over allegations Nigeria’s military committed human-rights abuses. Nigeria abruptly ended a U.S. mission to train its troops to fight Boko Haram in December.

The probe will “investigate allegations of non-adherence to correct equipment procurement procedures and the exclusion of relevant logistics branches” when previous administrations secured weapons, Adesina said.

This has “very often resulted in the acquisition of sub-standard and unserviceable equipment,” he said.

Army spokesman Colonel Sani Usman declined to comment when contacted by phone.

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