Senate C’ttee Grills Defence Minister over $496m Aircraft Purchase

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  • Saraki reads Buhari’s letter at plenary

Damilola Oyedele in Abuja

The Senate Committee on Appropriation has met with the Minister of Defence, Brigadier General Mansur Dan Ali (rtd), over the payment of $496 million to the United States Government for the purchase of 12 Tucano aircraft without appropriation from the National Assembly.

The meeting with Ali wednesday was held behind closed doors and lasted for one and half hours.

The governor of the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN), Mr. Godwin Emefiele, was absent. He was represented by the Deputy Governor, Mr. Edward Adamu.

THISDAY gathered that the committee, chaired by Senator Danjuma Goje, however, declined to take the submissions of Adamu.
But following his explanation that Emefiele was indisposed, the committee said he could make his submission next week alongside the Minister of Finance, Mrs. Kemi Adeosun.

Earlier at the plenary, the Senate President, Dr. Bukola Saraki, had read the letter from the president on the purchase of the aircraft.
The letter is at the heart of an expected showdown between the National Assembly and the presidency over the expenditure without approval.
Senator Matthew Uroghide (Edo PDP), citing an order of privilege, said the president’s action has violated the provisions of the constitution.

“With due respect to the office and the status of Mr. President, I want to say that what you read to us is a violation of some of the provision of the constitution: Sections 80 (1-4).”
Citing the provisions of the listed sections, Uroghide said the president, Council of States, Nigeria Governors’ Forum or any other person, is not allowed to make any disbursement or give approval on such expenditure.
“If we just sit down here, tomorrow posterity will judge us,” he said.

Saraki, in his ruling, said the letter as a communication, would be referred to the relevant committee and then scheduled for debate on a legislative day.