Boko Haram: Jonathan bought refurbished, expired weapons – FG

By The Citizen

The weapons purchased by former President Goodluck Jonathan to prosecute the war against terror group, Boko Haram, were substandard, the Federal Government has said. In a statement in Abuja on Monday, the Minister of Information and Culture, Alhaji Lai Mohammed, said such substandard weapons purchased by Jonathan could not have been responsible for the recent successes of the military in the fight against the terror group.

The minister described as unfortunate and unsubstantiated a statement credited to the former President, attributing the recent successes in the anti-insurgency war to the weapons allegedly bought by his administration that were delivered after he had left office. The minister said the present administration of President Muhammadu Buhari owed it a duty to put the record straight, especially because the issues raised by Jonathan were of public interest and bordered on national security.

According to the minister, the troops lacked the much-needed lift and operational vehicles and other equipment which they needed for an effective prosecution of the war until the present administration addressed the situation. Mohammed added, 'The weapons, ammunition and equipment, which the former President said he bought, were refurbished and lacked the basic components and spare parts. Additionally, the ammunition bought for both high calibre and small weapons have mostly expired, incompatible with weapons and grossly inadequate.

'It is pertinent to state that the ammunition he was referring to were back-loaded because they explode within the barrel when fired, thus leading to deaths and injuries among soldiers. 'The situation was so pathetic that soldiers were often transported in civilian JTF vehicles, civilian vehicles, trailers and water tankers when going to the theatres of operation.

'The revelations on the sorry state of things in the past, which have emanated from the investigative panel so far, point clearly to the kind of legacy bequeathed to this administration by the past government. ''That explains why troops remained largely static and were unable to effectively deploy to completely rout the Boko Haram terrorists in all their known enclaves.'

He explained that this state of affairs in the war front had led to high casualties among the troops prosecuting the anti-terror campaign. Mohammed added, 'The high level of casualties sustained by our gallant soldiers was most unprecedented and cannot be compared to any known military operations in recent times, all because of the terrible state of affairs suffered by the military under the Jonathan administration.

'It is also clear, as has been shown so far by the outcome of the panel probing past arms deals, that the purchase of substandard weapons apparently resulted from the massive corruption that enveloped the deals, the kind of horrifying graft that saw the purchase of refurbished choppers that lacked rotors, or fighter jets that could not be deployed in the theatre of war because they were not up to par.

'The needless loss of lives of many of our gallant troops, resulting from the lack of standard weaponry and low morale in the past, is not a matter to be trivialised under any circumstance.' The minister said because Jonathan could not understand how credible and dedicated leadership could impact positively on the morale and performance of troops, he chose to denigrate the system for the unprecedented feat that was achieved within the first six months of the Buhari administration, a feat he stated Jonathan could not achieve in six years.