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Protest In Senate Over Buhari’s Withdrawal Of $496m For Aircraft Without Senate Approval

Muhammadu-Buhari-NigeriaPresident
                   President Muhammadu Buhari

Leke Baiyewu, Abuja

The Senate President, Bukola Saraki, at the plenary on Wednesday, read a letter from President Muhammadu Buhari seeking the approval of the legislature for the withdrawal of $496m from the Excess Crude Account for the purchase of military aircraft.

Buhari, in the letter, however, disclosed that the money had been withdrawn and paid to the United States for the 12 Super Tucano aircraft, ahead of legislative approval.

This, he said, was done to beat the deadline for the arms deal.

The planes will be delivered in 2020.

The President said, “Recently, approval was granted by the United States of America Government but with a deadline, within which down payment must be made otherwise the contract relapses. In the expectation that the National Assembly will have no objection to the purchase of these highly specialised aircraft, which are critical to national security, I granted anticipatory approval for the release of $496,374,470. This was paid directly into the treasury of the United States Government.

“I am therefore writing seeking approval of the Senate for the sum of $496,374,470 (equivalent to N151,394, 421,035) to be included in the 2018 Appropriation Bill which the National Assembly is currently finalising. The balance of the requirement for critical operational equipment is still being collated from the different security services and will be presented in the form of a supplementary appropriation bill in due course.”

Buhari recalled that due to the “security emergencies” in the country, which was discussed with state governors, the National Economic Council on December 14, 2017, approved that up to $1bn be released and utilised from the Excess Crude Account to address the situation.

Senator Mathew Uroghide (PDP, Edo-South), however, raised a point of order to declare Buhari’s action illegal.

Uroghide said, “I heard very clearly when you read the letter that came from Mr President over the payment that was made for the Tucano aircraft. I was completely taken aback because I represent a people.

“This letter that you just read to us now, with due respect to the office and the status of Mr President, I want to say that what he just said, which you just read to us, is a violation of some of the provisions of the constitution. I stand on it with every vehemence and I want to read Section 80 (1),(2),(3) and (4) of the 1999 Constitution.”

The lawmaker read the sections of the constitution he made reference to.

He added, “What you have just read to us violates these provisions. Mr President couldn’t have ever, and no Nigerian citizen that is up and active under the provisions of the constitution, is allowed to make any disbursement or any approval coming from any quarter, whether it is by the Council of State of the Federation or the committee of the governors or anybody in the Presidency, without approval or appropriation from this Assembly.

“I think it is important that we remind ourselves because if we sit down here, posterity will judge us.”

Saraki interrupted Uroghide, noting that the matter would be taken at another time. He, however, admitted that the lawmaker had raised a valid point.

The Senate President also hinted that the matter might be raised at the next legislative day (Thursday) based on its importance and urgency.

He said, “You raised a very valid point. You came under privileges and you are making a point on the subject matter. Fine, but the point is that this has come now as a communication. What we are going to do is that you will have your day in being able to express your views. This has come as a communication now; we will have to deter it.” (Punch)

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Russian Fighter Jet Comes Within 20 Feet Of U.S. Navy Craft |The Republican News

 

Courtney Kube
Image: Russian Su-27 fighter jet makes a low pass during an air show in Rostov-on-Don, southern Russia© Russian Su-27 fighter jet makes a low pass during an air show in Rostov-on-Don, southern Russia on M… Image: Russian Su-27 fighter jet makes a low pass during an air show in Rostov-on-Don, southern Russia A Russian fighter jet came within 20 feet of a U.S. Navy surveillance aircraft over the Black Sea earlier this week, an official said.

On May 9, 2017, a Russian SU-27 came within approximately 20 feet of a U.S. Navy P-8A Poseidon while the U.S. Navy aircraft was conducting routine operations in international airspace, according to Captain Pamela Kunze, a spokeswoman for U.S. Naval Forces Europe.

Related: U.S. F-22 Raptor Aircrafts Intercept Russian Bombers Off Alaska’s Coast

She added that the interaction was considered safe and professional by the P-8A’s mission commander.

U.S. Navy aircraft and ships routinely interact with Russian ships and aircraft in international seas and water and most interactions are safe and professional, she said.

Related: AGAIN: US Fighter Jets Intercept Russian Bombers, Fighter Jets Off Alaska Coast

Twenty feet is extremely close and other encounters at much greater distance have been deemed unsafe and unprofessional by the U.S. military in the past. Kunze said that distance is only one of many variables considered when defining what is safe and professional.

She cited speed, altitude, rate of closure, visibility and other factors that impact whether an incident is characterized as safe or unsafe, professional or not professional.

It is up to the commander of the ship or aircraft to evaluate all of the variables and assess each interaction individually.   (NBC NEWS)

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Trump Agrees To Sell $600m Fighter Planes To Nigeria To Combat Boko Haram

Fighterjets

Olaleye Aluko with agency report

The United States  has agreed to sell high-tech aircraft to Nigeria to tackle  the Boko Haram insurgency in the North-East.

United States officials told the Associated Press that the Congress was  expected to receive formal notification within weeks, setting in motion the deal with Nigeria.

They added that the arrangement would call for Nigeria purchasing up to 12 Embraer A-29 Super Tucano aircraft with sophisticated targeting gear.

The purchase will gulp about $600m, said the  officials. They were, however, unauthorised to discuss the terms of the sale publicly and preferred anonymity on the diplomatic conversations.

The Defence Headquarters, Abuja, at a briefing last week, confirmed that the US  was one of the countries that had  agreed to help  Nigeria in the fight against Boko Haram.

The Director, Defence Information, Maj-Gen. John Enenche, said, “It is worthy of note that some countries such as Britain, USA and France among others provided one form of assistance to the military in our effort so far in the North-East. It is hoped that the collaboration would continue to ensure that this evil of terrorism is eliminated from Nigeria and equally degraded globally.”

Our correspondent  learnt that although President Donald Trump had made clear his intention to approve the sale of the aircraft to Nigeria, the National Security Council would work  on the issue. Military sales to  other countries are also expected to be approved, but are caught up in an ongoing White House review.

The AP notes that Nigeria has been trying to buy the aircraft since 2015.

Trump  in February called President Muhammadu Buhari on the telephone and assured him of   his country’s readiness to cut a new deal in helping Nigeria in terms of military weapons to combat terrorism.

A February 15 White House statement that provided a summary of the call said,  “President Trump expressed support for the sale of aircraft from the United States to support Nigeria’s fight against Boko Haram.”

The AP notes that the A-29 sale would improve the US relationship with Nigeria, Africa’s largest consumer market of 170 million people, the continent’s biggest economy and its second-largest oil producer.              (Punchng.com)

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