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Boko Haram: Nigerian military disputes account of meeting with Senators

The Nigerian military has rejected an account of a meeting between the Senate leadership and military chiefs, as provided by the senate president’s office.

The service chiefs led by Chief of Defence Staff, Abayomi Olonishakin, had on Wednesday met with Senate President, Bukola Saraki, and other leaders of the legislative body behind closed doors.

After the meeting, Mr. Saraki’s spokesperson, Yusuph Olaniyonu, issued a press statement, saying that the service chiefs briefed the Senators on “various challenges faced by the military, particularly the state of their equipment which they said required serious upgrading and restocking”.

He added that the officers also complained that their vote in the 2015 supplementary budget had not been released, thereby hampering their ability to fund their operations.

“Other issues that came up for discussion was the need to continuously increase the personnel in the three branches of the military and the hindrance posed by the procurement process which they said is very slow,” Mr. Olaniyonu said.

However, in a statement signed by the acting Director, Defence Information, Rabe Abubakar, on Friday, the military denied providing such details to the lawmakers.

“As far as the military is concerned Boko Haram insurgency is within the ambit of what the Nigerian Armed Forces can handle,” Mr. Abubakar, a Brigadier General, said.

The statement read, “The story which claimed that Service Chiefs decried inadequate equipment and non-release of 2015 military votes as the reason of continued insurgency is equally scurrilous and calculated to diminish the armed forces. The story is false and far from what happened when the service chiefs visited the leadership of the senate.

“But for avoidance of doubt, the visit of the military leadership to the senate president was purely a closed-door meeting aimed at intimating the senate about the level of successes recorded in the onslaught against Boko Haram and to assure the National Assembly and all Nigerians that the military is winning and will soon see the end of this menace called Boko Haram.”

The statement added that newspaper captions, following Mr. Olaniyonu’s account, “are inappropriate and misleading designed to further confuse the general public about the situation in the North East”.

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