•Amosun names successor as main supplier of arms
•Ogun gov: You inflated monthly wage bill by N2.5bn
The immediate past governor of Ogun State, Senator Ibikunle Amosun, has insisted that the purchase, handling and storage of arms and ammunition by his administration followed due process.
Amosun, who spoke as controversy continues to trail his alleged illegal arms purchase, also identified his successor, Dapo Abiodun, as the main supplier of some of the arms.
A report on Monday night by online newspaper, Premium Times, had claimed that the former governor imported without appropriate permits, 1,000 AK47 assault rifles, four million rounds of ammunition and Armoured Personnel Carriers (APCs) during his tenure.
The arms and ammunition were reportedly handed over to the state Commissioner of Police, Bashir Makama, on May 28 at the Governor’s Office, Oke-Mosan, Abeokuta, before Amosun left office.
But, the former governor, in a statement by his media aide, Rotimi Durojaiye, said extant approvals, regulations and protocols were observed and complied with in the procurement of the arms and ammunition.
Amosun stated that the handing over was done openly in the full glare of the public and the media to ensure accountability as well as to guarantee transparency and judicious use of the assets. He maintained that no AK 47 rifle was handed over at the event.
He further named Abiodun, who succeeded him in office, as the main supplier of some of the equipment, especially the Armoured Personnel Carriers.
Amosun explained that the need to improve poor security situation at the time he took over government informed the decision to purchase the ammunition, adding that the importation of the weapons was authorised by the presidency then under President Goodluck Jonathan.
The statement partly read: “The (Amosun) administration sought help from the then President Goodluck Jonathan-led Federal Government. First, we sought and got approval to set up ‘OP MESA’ for Ogun State. We followed this up with the specialized QRS unit.
“We committed substantial funds into procurement of hard and soft ware, and, myriad security assets to decisively combat our security challenges. We got all necessary approvals from the Office of the National Security Adviser to procure the 13 units of Armoured Personnel Carriers (APCs), the 1,000 units of AK 47 rifles, two million rounds of ammunition,1,000 units of bullet proof vests and 500 bullet proof helmets and other security communication gadgets.
“Ogun State not only got approval to import these essential assets, the Federal administration under President Jonathan, gave all requisite approvals to assist the state. The Federal Government through the Office of the National Security Adviser (NSA) issued the State the End User Certificate Serial Number 000001123 dated 5thof March, 2012.
“The Federal Ministry of Finance also granted Import Duty Exemption Certificate through a letter from the Hon. Minister of Finance and Coordinating Minister of the Economy with Reference Number BO/R.10260/S.4/T.4/22 dated 10thApril, 2012. Indeed the supplier was an accredited agent of the Nigeria Police Force nominated for the job by the Force who also monitored and supervised the transaction.
“The security materials were cleared through the Murtala Muhammed Airport and confirmed through Nigeria Customs Memo NCS/MMAC/012/S.1. The materials were publicly handed over to the Inspector General of Police MD Abubakar on 22nd April, 2012.
“…Without going into the details and thereby breaching conventions, suffice to say categorically that the AK47 rifles were supplied directly to the Nigeria Police, Ogun State Command. The rest of the merchandise were securely kept in the approved designated armoury within the Government House precincts under police surveillance as it obtains in most Government Lodges, to guarantee exclusive use of the materials in Ogun State.
“These are not matters for the public. The suggestion that the security assets were quickly handed over to the police in order that the new administration will not know about it is laughable because the current governor of Ogun State, Prince Dapo Abiodun, was the main supplier of some of the assets in question, notably, the Armoured Personnel Carriers (APCs).
“As a governor, who understood and took the responsibilities of his office seriously, Senator Amosun was mindful to account for and properly hand over the remainder of the security items to the police and the new administration.
“On 28 May, 2019, the last of the APCs, and all other security assets under the custody of Ogun State government were passed over to the Police in full glare of the media and general public. We believed that was the surest way to prevent these assets getting into the wrong hands.”
But, in a swift reaction, Abiodun said his predecessor’s comments were part of the grand plot to smear his name.
In a terse message to New Telegraph by his Chief Press Secretary, Kunle Somorin, the governor stated that he never defaulted in supplying the materials according to the terms of the contract.
While admitting that the issue remains a security matter, Governor Abiodun pointed out that the police should sort out the shortfalls in the ammunition handed over to Amosun.
He said: “I read of Armoured Personnel Carriers – vehicles, not arms or ammunition. Did he default in supplying according to the terms of the contract?
“What’s the motivation for bringing the governor’s name into the arms scandal? I consider it distracting or part of the grand plot to smear Governor Abiodun.
“He (Amosun) claimed he handed over arms to the police, not Governor Abiodun. The police commissioner should give the details and sort the shortfalls out with him. It’s a security matter. The agencies on arms purchase should wade in and connect the dots.”
In another development, Abiodun accused Amosun of inflating the monthly wage bill of the state during his tenure.
The governor, who claimed that his predecessor inflated the wage bill by N2.5 billion, said Amosun’s deceit has been exposed since he took over the reins of government.
The governor, who made the allegation in a statement signed by his Chief Press Secretary, was reacting to a statement by the state chapter of Allied People’s Movement (APM) on the payment of May salaries to workers in the state.
The APM had faulted the new administration’s claim of inheriting an empty treasury and borrowing the sum of N7 billion to pay workers’ salaries.
But, Abiodun, who insisted that people of the state know their friends, asked the APM not to attempt to cry wolf, where there is none.
“Ogun State people are wiser than the years of locust, when salaries are delayed, denied and deducted. Ogun workers know their friends,” he stated.
The governor wondered why the APM refused to comment on the inflated wage bill of Amosun, who had consistently claimed that his administration expended N9 billion on wages monthly.
Abiodun challenged the former governor to reveal, where he kept the over N2.5 billion inflated monthly for the 96 months that he governed the state.
He said: “Which is better between a government that went the whole hog and thought out-of-the-box to ensure that workers’ salaries are paid as and when due in in full or the government that owed them, seized their check offs dues for several years, denied pensioners their rights without recourse to the suffering and hardships that characterised such act of brazen wickedness?
“Ogun workers are discerning to distinguish between those who denied them their entitlements and those who go out of their ways to ensure they are promptly paid.
“It’s callous, inhuman and insensitive of APM that was rejected at the polls to go against the welfarist government of Prince Dapo Abiodun. I’ll advise the party and its sponsors that we will not be distracted. Instead they should address the recent revelations that exposed the lies in the wage bills of the state which their principal and grand master used in deceiving the people for several years, other than raising unnecessary dusts.
“They aren’t talking about the inflated wage bill. Amosun claims to be paying N2.5 billion higher than what was borrowed to pay in full. Where was Amosun keeping the over N2.5 billion monthly for the 96 months he governed Ogun State?”
Abiodun vowed not to be distracted, saying he has sworn to continue to protect the interests and rights of all citizens and residents of the state.
He reiterated the fact that workers’ salaries would be paid on the dot of the last day of the month as promised.
The governor, who enthused that workers were happy with him for the prompt payment of salaries, chided Amosun over unaccounted deductions in the workers’ wages.
“A state that wants to attract investors must be seen to be paying salaries promptly and steadfastly without unnecessarily putting people in hardship,” he added.