News Column

Falana, Omeri Disagree Over U.S. $1 Billion Terror-War Loan

July 17, 2014



A Senior Advocate of Nigeria, Mr. Femi Falana, has asked the National Assembly to reject the request made to it by President Goodluck Jonathan asking it to approve $1bn loan to enable him equip the army and fight Boko Haram.

But the Coordinator of National Information Centre, Mr. Mike Omeri, said that no amount of money was too much to secure the release of the over 200 schoolgirls abducted from the Government Secondary School, Chibok , Borno State on April 14. The Federal Governemnt, he said, would spare no resources to ensure that the girls were rescued alive.

However, Falana, who is a delegate to the national conference, said that President Jonathan must explain what he had done with the budgets made for defence in the last few years.

He said, "The request made by President Jonathan for approval of the Senate for a loan of $1bn to fight the menace of the Boko Haram sect should be rejected in its entirety. Between 2010 and 2013 over N3tn was budgeted for defence.

"Under the Appropriation Bill signed into law on May 23 this year 20 percent of the entire federal budget i.e the sum of N968.127bn out of N4.962tn was earmarked for defence. The Senate should find out what happened to the defence budget in the middle of the year to warrant a supplementary budget of N160bn."

Omeri, who was responding to a question from newsmen on whether the resources of the Federal Government had depleted in the fight against terrorism that it now needs to borrow $1bn to prosecute the war against insurgency at a press briefing in Abuja on Thursday, said the loan was necessary.

Omeri said, "Even the United States go for this kind of facility. For any country involved in such military expedition, not just the Boko Haram issue, but engaged in a number of military exercises; its stock will deplete. Every country must restock to reinforce its capability.

"That is not to say that the resources of Nigeria has finished and therefore we needed to go for a loan. It is not cash that will be given to Nigeria. It is a long term facility.

"It is country-to-country kind of process because what the government is looking for is the approval of the National Assembly so that the President can negotiate for arms to consolidate, to reinforce the stock the armed forces have and to guarantee that we will win the war against insurgency and we have an effective and capable assets to prosecute any unforeseen issue. This happens to all countries. It is not exclusive to Nigeria."

He added, "Once the country is engaged in any kind of activity of this nature, it sure will lead to depletion of resources. So, I don't think the loan is because the resources are depleted. For the amount so far spent, I am not in position to say so.

"We are still prosecuting the war. So, it will be preposterous to begin to calculate cost. Don't forget, our citizens have been abducted. And so whatever we need to do that we must do to get our citizens back, we will do it. The country will do it."

He also disclosed that one of the masterminds of the April 14 Nyanya blast that was repatriated to Abuja on Monday would face trial in the country rather than face the International Criminal Court.

He said, "The laws of Nigeria are sufficient to try him for the offence for which he has been accused of committing and it is the law that he will be subjected to. Where the need arises for other legal processes that are stronger than Nigeria, it will be applied.

"For now, the laws of Nigeria are clear. Don't forget there are instances that local laws are stronger than international laws and in such cases, the local law will apply."

Omeri added that the security services were still on the trail of the second person accused of masterminding the Nyanya blast, Mr. Rufai Abubakar Tsiga, as well as a number of other people that had been mentioned in connection with acts of terrorism in the country.


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Source: AllAfrica


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