Former Senate President, Bukola Saraki, has responded to the Buhari Media Office (BMO) allegation that he attempted to scuttle Nigeria’s war against Boko Haram.
BMO accused the 8th National Assembly of frustrating Nigeria’s purchase of Super Tucano fighter jets from the United States in 2017.
The group also said Saraki and others planned to impeach President Muhammadu Buhari over the acquisition.
A statement on Saturday by Saraki’s spokesman, Yusuph Olaniyonu called it a “revisionist antic” of an “empty propaganda machine whose members lack understanding of the American system”.
Olaniyonu explained that the US had refused to sell equipment because Nigeria was then categorized as one of those nations whose military engaged in rights abuse, a violation of the Leahy’s law.
He said whatever discussion former US President Donald Trump had with his Nigerian counterpart was not binding on the US Congress..
Responding to BMO’s claim that Trump, in February 2017, promised that the US would sell the jets to Nigeria by April 2017, Olaniyonu recalled that the US Congress got the notice in August, after which Buhari wrote to the Senate on August 25, 2017.
The statement said the accusers did not do enough research to find out that as far back as April 12, 2017, Saraki had held a closed-door meeting with then US ambassador to Nigeria, Stuart Symington where the sale of the Tucano Jets was discussed.
“Also, on August 28, 2017, three days after Buhari notified the Nigerian Senate of the proposed sale of the Tucano Jets and three weeks after the Trump government briefed the American legislature about it, Saraki again received in the audience an 8-man US Congressional delegation headed by Sen. Chris Coons of Delaware in the National Assembly.”
Olaniyonu stressed that the 8th Senate Saraki gave support to the transaction and guaranteed to the visiting Congressmen that it would intensify oversight over the military to ensure there was no repeat of violation of citizens’ rights.
He said Saraki further the Buhari administration to speedily conclude all the formalities and make payment in respect of the 12 A29 Super Tucano Aircraft so that the military could be stronger in confronting insurgents.
On Buhari’s “impeachment plot” for granting anticipatory approval for the payment of $496,374,470 without legislative consent or budgetary provision, the aide maintained it was a grave violation of the law.
Olaniyonu said no responsible legislature would ignore such infraction and that when the point of order was raised by Sen. Mathew Urhoghide to discuss it, Saraki didn’t allow “to save the President any embarrassment”.