Written by Emmanuel Ogbeche

Arms Deal Probe: Ensuring Accountability, Justice

Over the past two weeks, the imaginations of most Nigerians have been centered on the probe instituted by the regime of President Muhammadu Buhari on arms procurement during the administration of President Goodluck Jonathan.

From preliminary report as released by the Federal Government, office of the former National Security Adviser, NSA, Col. Sambo Dasuki (rtd), handled well over $2billion about N400billion for the purchase of much needed weapons, military helicopters and munitions in the war against Islamist terrorists mainly of the Boko Haram sect.

Sadly, most of the expected purchases never materialised as the monies meant for the acquisitions, the Federal Government claimed, disappeared into private accounts.

Given the grave nature of the scandal, the ex-NSA, Sambo Dasuki, has been taken into custody as well as Chief Raymond Dokpesi, owner of DARR Communications, former Governor Attahiru Bafarawa and ex-Service Chiefs.

In the course of last week, there have been news leaks and counters to the purported admission of some of the principal actors in the Armsgate that has assumed the colouration of political witch hunt rather than strictly a fight against corruption.

For one, the initiative and the political will to unravel the poor weapons’ state of the Nigerian military is commendable because there have always being suggestions of grand sleaze amongst the military brass but no courage to take on the entrenched establishment.

While the move is commendable, there persists the worry that the media trial of those already fingered in the arms purchase scam could ultimately defeat the essence of the accountability process.

If the Federal Government is convinced it has built strong case against those already named and detained, it should not dither but to arraign such people before a competent court where the charges will be read to the accused.

Resorting to piecemeal information through ‘credible sources’ in the anti-corruption agency handling the matter or the DSS will in the long run hit the rocks as public sympathy is bound to sway in favour those accused of undermining the war against insurgency.

As a democracy, however quasi, Nigeria can ill afford to ignore the rule of law if the country truly desires to be counted as a serious member of the comity of democratic nations.

The government should not be found wanting in respecting the rights of those it feels convinced have cases to answer in regards to the arms procurement or any other corruption matter. The beauty of democracy is in its inherent ability to remain civil even when dealing with the most heinous of crimes.

Nigeria should continue to build on this democratic compass while ensuring that all those found culpable in the arms deal are brought to justice.

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