By OKECHUKWU PEACE
Former President Goodluck Ebele Jonathan bought sub-standard and below grade weapons to prosecute fight against Boko Haram, Minister of Information, Alhaji Lai Mohammed has said.
Mohammed was reacting to a statement credited to former president Goodluck Jonathan that the weapons procured by his administration are currently being used in the war against Boko Haram.
In a statement issued on Monday, in Abeokuta, Ogun State, Mohammed said the weapons Jonathan procured were substandard and expired, which “could not have been responsible for the string of successes recorded by the military in recent times”.
“The weapons, ammunitions and equipment which the former president said he bought were refurbished and lacked the basic components and spare parts. Additionally, the ammunition bought for both high-calibre and small weapons have mostly expired, incompatible with weapons and grossly inadequate.
“It is pertinent to state that the ammunition he was referring to were back-loaded because they explode within the barrel when fired, thus leading to deaths and injuries among soldiers”, the Minister said.
Mohammed said until the Muhammadu Buhariadministration came on board, the troops lacked operational vehicles and other equipment to effectively fight the Boko Haram terrorists.
He added: “The situation was so pathetic that soldiers were often transported in civilian JTF vehicles, civilian vehicles, trailers and water tankers when going to the theatres of operation. The revelations on the sorry state of things in the past, which have emanated from the investigative panel so far, point clearly to the kind of legacy bequeathed to this administration by the past government.
“That explains why troops remained largely static and were unable to effectively deploy to completely rout the Boko Haram terrorists in all their known enclaves. The high level of casualties sustained by our gallant soldiers was most unprecedented and cannot be compared to any known military operations in recent times, all because of the terrible state of affairs suffered by the military under the Jonathan administration.
“Apparently because the former president could not understand how credible and dedicated leadership could impact positively on the morale and performance of troops, he has chosen to denigrate the system for the unprecedented feat that was achieved within the first six months of the Buhari administration – something that he could not achieve in all of six years.
“It is also clear, as has been shown so far by the outcome of the panel probing past arms deals, that the purchase of substandard weapons apparently resulted from the massive corruption that enveloped the deals, the kind of horrifying graft that saw the purchase of refurbished choppers that lacked rotors, or fighter jets that could not be deployed to the theatre of war because they were not up to par.
“The needless loss of lives of many of our gallant troops, resulting from the lack of standard weaponry and low morale in the past, is not a matter to be trivialized under any circumstance.”
In supposed interview with France 24, Jonathan had affirmed that the present government has not bought any weapon, saying it is still using the arms procured by his administration.