The Chief of Army Staff (COAS), Lt. General Tukur Yusuf Buratai, has been sent a joint Freedom of Information (FOI) request by Civil Society Organisations (CSOs), asking him to provide information on the 2015, 2016 and 2017 budget implementation reports of the Nigerian Army.
The organisations gave hin 14 days ultimatum to provide the information on receipt and/or publication of the letter, if not they would institute legal action under the Freedom of Information Act, compelling the office of the COAS to comply.
In accordance to the information released to the media yesterday, the CSOs, Socio-Economic Rights and Accountability Project (SERAP), Enough is Enough (EiE), and BudgIT, requested “the amounts released (financial implications) and expended in fiscal years 2015, 2016 and 2017 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.”
The request was sent last week, signed by Bamisope Adeyanju (SERAP), Seun Akinyemi of (EiE) and Atiku Samuel (BudgIT), noted: “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.
“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.”
It said: “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, 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.
“By virtue of Section 1(1) of the Freedom of Information Act, 2011, we are entitled, as of right, to request or gain access to information, including information on the 2015, 2016 and 2017 budget implementation reports of the Nigerian Army and the amounts released (financial implications) and expended in fiscal years 2015, 2016 and 2017 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, except as otherwise provided by the Act, within 7 days after the application is received.”