The Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) yesterday charged the National Assembly to immediately commence an extensive investigation into alleged compromises that led to the killing of over 100 Nigerian soldiers by insurgents.
The party also accused the Minister of Defence, Mansur Muhammad Dan-Ali, of allegedly diverting funds meant for military equipment and welfare of the soldiers fighting insurgency in the North East to produce partisan materials for All Progressives Congress (APC) re-election campaign.
This is even as the presidential candidate of PDP and former Vice President, Atiku Abubakar, advised the APC to follow his leadership and offer support for the military.
The PDP, in a statement by its spokesman, Kola Ologbondiyan, accused the Buhari Presidency of condoning extra-judicial killing in the country, adding that legislative investigation on the killing of soldiers had become imperative, given reports of compromises and alleged failure of the authorities to promptly act on a reported threat by insurgents to attack the base and other military locations in the area, few days before the attack.
The party, which also demanded an immediate forensic inquiry into the reported killing of a principal witness in the Offa robbery incident, Michael Adikwu, in the custody of the Police in Kwara State, noted that the disturbing video circulating in the public domain, showed soldiers, weeks before the attack, giving accounts of their neglect by the authorities, resulting in their vulnerability to insurgents.
“This is particularly worrisome given apprehensions that President Muhammadu Buhari has been distracting the military by dragging our Service Chiefs to participate in his re-election campaign activities, instead of concentrating on their statutory duties.
“Moreover, the apparent insensitivity of the Buhari Presidency to the killing as well as alleged moves by the authorities to sweep the matter under the carpet has created despondency among the citizens,” the party said.
The PDP, therefore, urged the National Assembly to unravel the compromises leading to the killing of soldiers and those behind them.
The party also accused the Defence Minister of diverting part of the military funds to produce APC’s campaign materials, including an electronic memento book, on which he ascribed credit to himself and the APC, while soldiers suffered neglect in war front.
The party said the placing of APC logo alongside that of the Ministry of Defence on the memento confirms “our position that the Buhari Presidency has compromised our defence architecture for Mr. President’s re-election project.
It added: “Our party considers it insensitive and a gross impunity for the Minister of Defence to be engaging in patronising souvenirs for President Buhari at a time when our soldiers are being killed in their numbers.
“It is also instructive to note that President Muhammadu Buhari, as Mr. Integrity, has not reprimanded the minister, ostensibly, given that the diversion of public funds for his re-election campaign is now a policy of the APC and the Buhari Presidency.
“Nigerians can now see how the Buhari Presidency and the APC have turned the Ministry of Defence into their Automatic Teller Machine (ATM) to fund their re-election, at the detriment of our citizens who are being daily attacked by insurgents and marauders in various parts of our country.
“There is a fixation in the Buhari Presidency on winning the 2019 elections at all cost even at the expense of the lives of Nigerians.”
The PDP pointed out that with these revelations, the APC had proven to be a soulless mob which had no interest in the good of the nation but desperate to hang on to power by all means.
The party therefore called for an open investigation into the handling of military funds to unravel those benefitting from the racket, especially given allegations that some persons close to the President were being used as conduits to fritter public funds for President Buhari’s re-election and their wasteful lifestyles.
Meanwhile, Atiku has lambasted the APC For castigating him on the day of his birthday and turbaning.
The APC had accused Atiku of ‘selfishness’ and ‘mercantilism.’
Atiku, in a statement by his Campaign Organisation, said APC that was castigating him had not seen fit to pay tribute to “these gallant men who gave their lives in order to secure the lives of others.”
He added: “As a party, they have not issued even one statement condoling with the slain or their families, neither have they offered any tangible support to the families of these fallen heroes. Yet, they are accusing the Waziri, who has shown commitment to honouring these heroes, of selfishness.
“As a matter of fact, we now know through Premium Times report, that these real Nigerian heroes were killed on November 18, 2018 which was the exact time that the candidate of the APC, Muhammadu Buhari, invited the service chiefs to attend the launch of the plagiarised #NextLevel launch at the banquet hall of the Presidential Villa.
“The nation can only wonder if the Metele massacre could have been avoided if the APC and President Buhari had allowed the service chiefs to focus on their core duties, rather than on his ill-fated re-election campaign.”
Atiku, who commended the service chiefs for beating a hasty retreat from the event as soon as they discovered that President Buhari was trying to hoodwink them, noted that while it took him only a few hours to respond to the incident and express support, it took the APC’s President Buhari a whole week to express “shock”.
“We therefore wonder who is truly ‘selfish.’ It is left to Nigerians to compare and contrast who is a leader and who is a follower based on the conduct of these two parties,” he said.
He told the APC that his call for financial support from well-meaning individuals and Institutions for the survivors of the Metele massacre and indeed for all who paid the supreme sacrifice in the frontlines for all to be safe was well intended.
“Seeing as the APC spent N100 million to buy front page advertorials in all the papers on that fateful day of November 18, 2018, we appeal to them to consider donating even 10% of that amount to the endowment for the families of our heroes as proposed by Atiku Abubakar.
“If they can spend N100 million to promote fraud, they should be able to spare at least N10 million to promote patriotism,” he said.