28 April 2013

Nigeria: Insurgency - States Groan Under Heavy Funding of Troops

Northern states hit by insurgency and ethno-religious crises are paying the chunk of their federal allocations for the maintenance of troops deployed to their states to fight Boko Haram and other armed groups.

Officials of the affected states, who spoke with LEADERSHIP Sunday on the funding of the activities of the Joint Task Force (JTF) and Special Task Force (STF), lamented that they had diverted resources meant for other critical sectors and infrastructure to keeping the troops.

While the Plateau State government said that it had spent N10 billion on STF since the security operatives were deployed to the state, the Borno State government stated that it had spent N2 billion on logistics and allowances on JTF.

In separate chats with LEADERSHIP Sunday, officials of the Borno State government, who sought anonymity because "security matters" are not discussed in the public, said all expenditures on JTF are usually approved by members of the state House of Assembly.

A top official of the Association of Local Governments of Nigeria (ALGON) claimed that the 27 LGs spend over N30 million on logistics, repairs of security vehicles, fuelling, allowances and other contingencies apart from the provision of accommodation for the security operatives in their constituencies. He said the state government also buys security vehicles and distributes them to the LGs through the Ministry of Local Government and Chieftaincy Affairs on the approval of Governor Kashim Shettima and Borno State House of Assembly (BOSHA), adding that the total cost could only be ascertained by the state government. The official said the state's share of the cost is usually deducted from the monthly statutory allocations of the LGs.

Another senior official of the state government disclosed to LEADERSHIP Sunday that the Shettima administration buys patrol vehicles from an auto firm which it distributes to the security outfits and federal agencies to ensure law and order in the state.

He said that, in the past three years of the Boko Haram crisis, over 200 four-wheel Toyota Hilux vans and jeeps worth N2 billion had been bought by the state government and distributed to the police and the military Joint Task Force, Immigration, National Drug Law Enforcement Agency (NDLEA), Nigeria Customs Service (NCS), Nigerian Security and Civil Defence Corps (NSCDC), the Nigerian Army, State Security Service (SSS), Nigerian Air Force, and mobile police squad.

It was also learnt that the BOSG spends over N1 million monthly to feed JTF men and pay each officer a daily allowance of N1,500.

Speaking with LEADERSHIP Sunday on the Plateau State government's contribution to STF, the special adviser to the governor on media and publicity, Mr Pam Ayuba, hinted that it had spent almost N10 billion on the task force since its inception.

He lamented that the development had stalled development in the state, adding that the Jonah Jang administration was yet to receive a kobo from the federal government to reduce the burden of funding the troops.

He said, "If these huge resources were channelled toward the development of the state, the hardship faced by the people would be mitigated.

A senior government official, who did not want his name in print, told LEADERSHIP Sunday that each staff of the STF gets N1,000 daily allowance.

It was however learnt that only N700 is paid to the beneficiaries while N300 is deducted for undisclosed reasons.

The spokesman of the STF, Capt. Salisu Mustapher, could not be reached for his comment on the issue as his mobile phone was switched off. A visit to his office did not yield the desired result.

In Kano State, a government source told LEADERSHIP Sunday that the Rabiu Kwankwaso administration pays N50 million monthly for the logistics and allowances of the JTF.

He also recounted several instances where the state government had, upon request, appropriated money for the operations and raids carried out by the JTF.

LEADERSHIP Sunday was informed that hundreds of policemen and soldiers fighting insurgency in the state are fed three times a day by the state government, adding that the state government pays certain allowances to JTF and other security agents every fortnight.

Our correspondent was informed that Governor Kwankwaso had provided for the fencing of Zone 1 police headquarters and Mopol 9, and police mobile barracks in Hotoro.

In Adamawa State, government officials and the military declined to give details of the money being spent to keep the JTF. They said since they were not formally directed to disclose the figures, it would be a violation of their operational code and ethics to do so.

Spokesman of the Gibson Jalo Military Cantonment in Yola, Lt. Jafaru Lawal, initially promised to make confirmation on the issue and asked LEADERSHIP Sunday to call later for clarifications. But when our correspondent called back after, he said the issue was beyond his capacity. He said only the chief of army staff could respond to the enquiries.

The public relations officer of the state command of the Nigeria Police, DSP Ibrahim Mohammed, said he could not entertain any question on the matter because he was holding a meeting with some senior citizens of the state.

The director of press and public affairs to the governor, Mallam Ahmed Sajoh, said the question could only be answered by Governor Murtala Nyako. "Nobody can answer that question except the governor himself, unless the person wants to put himself in serious trouble with the authorities," he said.

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