The Chief of Army Staff, Lt Gen Attahiru Ibrahim, finally on Monday appeared before the House of Representatives ad hoc committee investigating the $1 billion arms procurement but refused to apologise for his absence in previous summons.
“Even a blind man knows that there are internal security challenges in the country. The same way you work for the people, that is the same way I work for the people. I have a command under me and they are also Nigerians,” the army chief told the Reps during the session – a comment which drew angry reactions from some of the members.
The army chief had previously failed to honour the lawmakers’ invitation on three occasions.
The Committee had on March 22 asked the COAS and the Governor of the Central Bank of Nigeria, Godwin Emefiele, to testify before it on the matter but they failed to appear.
Again, both officials snubbed the committee on April 7 when they were billed to appear.
At Monday’s hearing, the army chief told the lawmakers that his inability to honour several invitations of the committee was due to other engagements on internal security.
He, however, refused to apologise to the committee, noting that his explanation was sufficient.
“An explanation is as good as an apology. Even a blind man knows that there are internal security challenges in the country,” the army chief said.
The army chief’s comment spurred a response from Bede Eke, a member of the committee, who demanded that the army chief should speak on oath.
Eke asked the “COAS to speak on the record, to be sure that it emanated from the office of the COAS.”
Apparently determined to avert an impasse, the committee chairperson, Olaide Akinremi, called for an executive session because of the sensitive nature of the subject matter.