The Presidency has in a swift involvement in the evolving story of arms stockpile allegation made by an online media (Premium Times) against former Governor of Ogun State, Senator Ibikinle Amosun, made a clarification that further exacerbated the contradictions in the story.
Premium Times had stated that the former Governor on the eve of his departure from office handed over a cache of arms and ammunitions and other security items to the Ogun State Police Commissioner, Mr Bashir Makama.
The news outfit has reaffirmed its story in deference to the governor’s denial of any wrongdoing in the submission of the items or even in their procurement and storage. Such courageous reaffirmation should elicit a major concern and investigation rather than a quick response such as has been given by the presidency. Senator Amosun is not a staff of the Presidency.
What are the issues: According to Premium Times, Amosun purchased truckloads of arms and ammunition and hid his cache of weapons under the radar of the security authorities. As his tenure came to an end, Amosun told the Ogun State Commissioner of Police, Bashir Makama that he had thousands of arms and millions of ammunition at an armoury in Government House, and that he had decided to hand them over to the police.
Makama was said to have gotten to Government House and Amosun reportedly handed over four million rounds of ammunition, 1,000 units of AK47 assault rifles, 1,000 units of bulletproof vests and an Armoured Personnel Carrier (APC) to the police.
Amosun reportedly told the police at the event that he procured the arms and ammunition to check the widespread insecurity in his state and decided to keep the cache of weapons at the Government House armoury to ensure they were not allocated indiscriminately by security agencies.
Amosun through his media aide Rotimi Durojaiye admitted handing over some armoured vehicles and light weapons to the Ogun State Police Command at the twilight of his government, but vehemently denied that guns were involved in the handing over exercise.
Amosun further clarified that he imported the security hardware with the approval of the Presidency, under Goodluck Jonathan in 2012. to tackle the state of insecurity that made Ogun state unsafe and unattractive to investors.
He got all necessary approvals from the Office of the National Security Adviser to procure the 13 units of Armoured Personnel Carriers (APCs), the 1000 units of AK 47 rifles, 2 million rounds of ammunition,1000 units of bullet proof vests and 500 bullet proof helmets and other security communication gadgets.
Amosun gave what seem like a detailed report on the entire transaction restating that due process was followed and the purpose for purchase was patriotic, sublime and noble.
The president’s Senior Special Assistant, Mallam Garba Shehu in response to the allegation said preliminary investigation by the Inspector-General of Police, Mr. Mohammed Adamu, showed that there was no sinister motive in the former governor’s action.
But the presidency’s defence of Amosun from any illegalities has thrown up fresh issues that a quick response cannot diminish, especially now, when the issue of insecurity in the country has reinforced calls for the establishment of state police.
For greater public enlightenment, can a state governor can be authorized to procure as much as 1000 rifles and millions of bullets to support the police for any security operations; and why should states not be allowed to establish their own police force? Should state governors fund the police and not be interested in how their support materials are deployed and utilized?
According to Amosun’s spokesman, Rotimi Dunojauye, “routine, bona fide and patriotic disposition of the Senator was bring savagely twisted in a premeditated effort to serve some vested interest. But in the face massive proliferation of arms that have resulted in several mop up operations across the country especially during the build up to the general elections , the when some governors were accused of sponsoring cultists and bandits it beggars belief that one governor had securely under his control an arms stock of such magnitude.
Perhaps, it serves better security interest and strategy that the Government House should also be a warehouse or an amoury for police weapons. If that is legal, why was the Police commissioner not aware and why should they be handed over to the police commissioner a new governor was to take over. Methinks the Government House and all government materials should be handed over to the new governor.
This action seems to give life to the claim by Premium Times that the former governor’s action was taken to avert the unlikely response of an unfriendly successor. But we have come to know that this could not be the case because the new governor as we have been told is also a contractor who supplied some of Armed Personnel Carrier purchased by Amosun for the police.
So the former governor and his successor have something in common,
Now a simple patriotic and official duty is enmeshed in controversy and as Amosun’s spokesman said: “It is important to clarify that not a single AK47 rifle was handed over at the event.” So what is the fact about bullets and rifles and how can such issues be reconciled if not by an investigation of the entire custodial and handover process.
The presidency is better positioned to understand the possibility of subterfuge in such transactions and handling. indeed the predilection to pre-emptive defence should give way to greater circumspection.