Tucano jets controversy: Saraki slams pro-Buhari group, BMO


By Mike Odiakose

Abubakar Bukola Saraki Media Office has described the statement issued earlier today by the Buhari Media Office (BMO) to downplay the role the Saraki-led Eighth National Assembly played in getting the United States to agree to sell military equipment to Nigeria for the fight against Boko Haram insurgency in 2017 as “ a mere revisionist antic which depicts the group as an empty propaganda machine whose members lacks substance and simple understanding of the American system”.

While reacting to a statement titled ‘Tucano Jets: Saraki Lied, Actually Wanted to Impeach Buhari on the Purchase’ issued by BMO, the Abubakar Bukola Saraki Media Office stated that the Buhari propaganda machine only demonstrated ignorance in all its claims and showed that the members, particularly the duo of Niyi Akinsiju and Cassidy Madueke, who signed the statement either have no respect for facts or very limited in their understanding of public policy.

The Abubakar Bukola Saraki Media Office in a statement signed by Yusuph Olaniyonu explained that the US refused to sell military equipment to Nigeria because the country was then categorized as one of those nations whose military engaged in violation of the rights of the citizens and therefore were in constant violation of the Leahy’s law.

Section 362 of Title 10 of the US Code otherwise called Leahy’s law prevents the US from providing equipment, training, and other assistance to a foreign security force if the Secretary of Defence has credible information that such unit has committed a Government Violation of Human Rights (GVHR).

“Thus, whatever discussion the US President Donald Trump was said to have had with his Nigerian counterpart, the US policy was not about to change except the Congress agreed to such change. Most important, the US would not change such an important policy without the guarantee from the beneficiary country’s legislature.

“If we go by the skewed timelines of the events that led to the conclusion of the transaction for the purchase of the Tucano Jets as given by the BMO the lies of this propaganda machine will even be more glaring. In their statement, the BMO claimed that Trump in a telephone conversation in February 2017 promised President Buhari that the US would sell the jets to Nigeria and that by April of the same year, international media reported that the US Congress would be notified while the notice eventually was given to the American Legislature in August. Buhari wrote to the Nigerian Senate on August 25, 2017.

“The BMO 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 the main issue for discussion. The US wanted to know if the National Assembly was in support of the sales. We refer BMO, Akinsiju, Madueke, and their ilks to a Vanguard newspaper report published on April 13, 2017, titled “Saraki, US ambassador meet over the sale of attack planes to Nigeria”.

“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. The main issue for discussion was the sale of the Tucano Jets and the setting aside of the restriction imposed on Nigeria under the Leahy Law.

“Unlike Nigeria, particularly under the current government, where the legislature is treated with contempt, the Americans would not have set aside the restriction on the sale of military equipment imposed under an extant law without a guarantee from the Congress. At every point when it was needed, the Senate under 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. We urge the public to also read the statement issued by Saraki on December 29, 2017, as published by Daily Post titled “Boko Haram: Saraki lauds US government for fighter jets.

“That particular statement had concluded that ‘Saraki urged the Buhari administration to move speedily to conclude all the formalities and make payment in respect of the 12 A29 Super Tucano Aircraft so that the nation’s military could be stronger in confronting insurgents and give confidence to the fighting soldiers’

“On the claims that there was an impeachment attempt on Buhari for granting anticipatory approval for the payment of $496,374,470 without legislative approval or any budgetary provision, there is no doubt that the act was a grave violation of the law and that no responsible legislature would ignore that infraction. Yet, contrary to the claims by the revisionists in BMO, the point of order raised by Sen. Mathew Urhoghide to discuss the infraction was not allowed for discussion by the same Saraki in other to save the President any embarrassment. We refer members of the public to the Punch newspaper story on the Senator session published on April 25, 2018, with the headline “Senators fault Buhari’s $496 Tucano aircraft purchase without due process”.

“We, therefore, advise the BMO and other propaganda groups working for the present government to always undertake the necessary research and make the needed checks before dishing out falsehood and making claims that are contrary to the facts. Such acts do a disservice to the administration rather than fulfill the responsibility for which the groups were created”, Saraki’s Media Office stated.