Udora Orizu in Abuja
Socio-Economic Rights and Accountability Project (SERAP), Enough is Enough (EiE) and BudgIT have sent a joint Freedom of Information (FoI) request to Chief of Army Staff (COAS), Lt. General Tukur Buratai, requesting him to use his good offices and leadership position to urgently provide information on the 2015, 2016 and 2017 budget implementation reports of the Nigerian Army, including the amounts released (financial implications) and expended in fiscal years aforementioned for the various operations the army carried out.
The groups, in a joint statement, also urged Buratai to furnish them with the amounts released and expended in fiscal years mentioned above for Operation Lafiya Dole, Operation Safe Haven, Operation Python Dance, Operation Ruwan Wuta, Operation Delta Safe, Operation Mesa, Operation Harbin Kunama, Operation Awatse, Operation Tsera Teku and Operation Crocodile Smile.
In the FoI request sent last week and signed by Bamisope Adeyanju of SERAP, Seun Akinyemi of EiE and Atiku Samuel of BudgIT, the groups said: “Transparency of the budget process and its implementation is an essential condition to achieve good governance. “The reports, if provided and published, will shed light on military spending and put to rest once and for all the perceived lack of transparency and accountability in the spending of military budgets, which has been a subject of intense public debate and concern.
The information being requested does not come within the purview of the types of information exempted from disclosure by the provisions of the FOI Act.
“The information requested for, apart from not being exempted from disclosure under the FOI Act, would serve the national interest, public welfare, public interest and peace, human rights, good governance, transparency and accountability.”
The groups stated that if the requested information was not provided within 14 days of the receipt and publication of the letter, the organisations shall take all appropriate legal action under the FoI Act to compel Buratai to comply with their request.
According to them, several billions of naira allocated to the military to defend the country and protect its people have neither contributed to improving the ability of Nigerian soldiers to fight Boko Haram and other armed groups nor provided the much-needed security especially for Nigerians in the Northeast of the country.
“By virtue of Section 1(1) of the Freedom of Information (FoI) Act, 2011, we are entitled as of right to request for or gain access to information, including information on 2015, 2016 and 2017 budget implementation reports of the Nigerian Army, and the amounts released (financial implications) and expended in fiscal years aforementioned for the various operations listed, which have yielded no tangible result.
“Also, by virtue of Section 4(a) of the FOI Act, when a person makes a request for information from a public official, institution or agency, the public official, institution or agency to whom the application is directed is under a binding legal obligation to provide the applicant with the information requested for, except as otherwise provided by the Act, within seven days after the application is received,” the groups demanded.