How I Escaped Assassination Attempt —Buratai

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The chief of army staff, Lt-Gen. Tukur Buratai, yesterday narrated his ordeal during a confrontation with members of the Shi’ite sect, saying he escaped assassination by the whisker.

The army chief also faulted the claim that members of the Shi’ite group were not armed, saying that heavily armed members of the group approached his convoy violently.

The convoy of the army chief was reportedly attacked last Saturday by members of the Islamic Movement of Nigeria in Zaria, Kaduna State.

Buratai, who gave his own side of the story while addressing journalists at the National Assembly complex after attending an interactive meeting convened by the Senate Committee on Defence for service chiefs, said it was by divine intervention that he escaped being assassinated by the Shi’ite group last Saturday.

“You want to know how I escaped? It was by the will of God that I was able to escape from the place. I think NTA was there and they aired the clip; it was very clear. They were violent and the clip is there”, the army chief said, even as he insisted that the group was heavily armed.

He also cautioned Nigerians to be law abiding wherever they are.

Meanwhile, the federal government has earmarked N10.6billion to pay as compensation for various courts judgements against the ministry of defence.

Permanent secretary in the ministry, Alhaji Samaila Aliyu, who gave the hint, said the said money was expected to be paid as compensation has been included in the next year’s budget.

Aliyu, who accompanied the minister of defence and all the Service Chiefs to the meeting with the Senate at the National Assembly, said, “We have judgements that have been delivered against us. Some have gone up to the Supreme Court. One is for N8.5billion and the other is for N2.1billion. We have backed the request with the judgements.”

He, however, assured the committee that if the proposal was approved by the National Assembly, the ministry would ensure transparency and accountability in the disbursement of the money.

Chairman of the committee, Senator Ahmed Lawan, told the ministry that the Senate was interested in the details of funds used for purchase of equipment by the military.

“We should have the necessary information and we are particularly glad that equipment supply has improved, but so many allegations have been established about the arms scandal; perhaps at the end of the day Nigeria will be better when the issues are sorted out,” he noted.

Demanding for the performance of the 2015 budget by the ministry and its agencies, Lawan said, “That will form the basis in which we will work on the 2016 budget”.

He expressed dissatisfaction with the performance of the joint task force in the Niger Delta region where about 400,000 barrels of oil is being stolen per day.

“Those arrested over the years need to be known and crude recovered from bunkers should be made available. We do not know if the bunkerers were prosecuted and if the oil was recovered,” Lawan said.

“We want to reduce it to a tolerable level so that it doesn’t harm our economy. You can rely on us but only transparency will ensure the relationship and I am sure it will not be a difficult thing to do because Buhari believes in accountability and transparency.”

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