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Senate fumes as Buratai shuns committee’s invitation

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-Lt.Gen Tukur Buratai fails to honour Senate committee’s invitation.

-Committee members have labelled his action as disrespectful.

The Senate Committee on Ethics, Privileges and Public Petitions,  on Wednesday expressed displeasure over the failure of the Chief of Army Staff, Lt. Gen. Tukur Buratai, to honour the invitation of the committee.

Buratai had been invited to appear before the committe in a public hearing over a petition of unlawful dismissal submitted by a retired Army Lieutenant Colonel, Abdulfatai Mohammed.

Mr. Mohammed alleged that he was forcefully retired from the Army in June 2016 without due explanation after 22 years of service.

The chairman of the senate committee, Samuel Anyanwu, had called out the name of Mr. Buratai to hear the Nigerian Army’s side of the story, after Mr. Mohammed had presented his side of the story but was shocked to hear an Army officer who introduced himself as Major Daniel from the Legal Services Department respond on behalf of Gen. Tukur Buratai.

The incident angered the committee members, who termed Buratai’s action as disrespecful with  the chairman stating that despite his efforts and ‘due respect’ to the Chief of Army Staff, he decided to ignore the invitation.

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“I was called last week by my clerk that the Chief of Army Staff said I should personally sign the invitation letter before he can attend to us and I did. I find it difficult to believe that he didn’t honour our invitation. We also have a General as member of this committee and he deemed it fit not to come here to listen to us.

“The last time we invited the Chief of Air Force, he was here in person. The same thing with Navy. I respect you and your position as a major, but tell whoever sent you that we are not going to listen to you.”

Another member of the committee, Ovie Omo Agege, described Gen. Buratai’s action as an insult to the Senate.

“If you like, you can be anything, sending you here instead of appearing is insulting. He is insulting us by this act,” he said.

In her remarks, Binta Garba, said that the Chief of Army Staff belittled the Senate by sending an ordinary major to the committee.

“Even if they will send someone from the legal department, it should be the head and not a major,” she said.

Mr. Anyanwu, thereafter, declared the public hearing closed while extending another verbal invitation to Mr. Buratai through his representative.

“Go and tell your Chief of Army Staff that this committee takes exception to this kind of insult and would not take it. Tell him that we didn’t attend to you and in the next sitting, we expect him to appear in person,” he said.

Recall that in June 2016, the army had announced the compulsory retirement of the 38 officers on different ranks on the grounds of alleged professional misconduct during the 2015 general elections, as well as involvement in the $2.1 billion arms procurement scandal.

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