There is a possibility that foreign governments are funding insurgents in the country, Babajimi Benson, Chairman, House Committee on Defense said on Wednesday after a closed-door meeting held with service chiefs.
Last week, amidst growing concerns of insecurity in the country, the House of Representatives called for the resignation of the military chiefs, but had at first summoned them.
The resulting meeting was a joint one by the committees on Army, Navy, Airforce, Defence and National Intelligence.
Briefing journalists on what transpired during the meeting, Mr Benson told them “there could be some truth” in the insinuation that foreign powers are throwing their weight behind insurgents in the country.
Although he said details of that are not for public consumption, he hinted that “there is probably an international dimension to what we see. There is ISIS, there is ISWAP. These are things that we need to discuss in a very classified manner.”
“But what we want Nigerians to know is that we are committed to them, 100 per cent, to see that we assist the military and the armed forces and ensuring that this matter is put to an end within the shortest possible time.
“We were to a large extent satisfied with what they said. Like I said, we are also going to table what they said before parliament. We are going to discuss; we are going to have a very robust discussion on how to assist, to end this war. It is Nigeria that is at war.”
Told the latest stance of the House is a deviation from the resolution made the previous week, Mr Benson maintained that theirs ”is to suggest, the decision lies with the executive.”
“It is not a U-turn but the most important thing that Nigerians want is the security of their lives and for their properties to be protected. Sacking the service chiefs is what we can suggest, but it is a function of the Commander-in-Chief of the Armed Forces; the buck stops at his table,” he said.
Meanwhile, before journalists were excused for a closed-door meeting, the speaker of the House, Femi Gbajabiamila said the security heads were summoned to discuss how “our constituents…are dying callously in ways that you can just imagine if there’s no security.”
In a hushed tone, different from that with which the lawmakers earlier called for the resignation of the service chiefs, Mr Gbajabiamila said his colleagues’ reaction was “natural,” an indication that the chiefs must do more in the quest to secure the country.
“This is one of those meetings which, like I said, is going to be continuous and to find out exactly what is going on, what the issues are and what the problems are. I hope to get some commitments from you, I’m sure moving forward things are going to get better,” Mr Gbajabiamila said.
“We know what the basic problems are,” he added. “There’s the issue of equipment, personnel and other things that would be said off-camera. We know our committees are capable of handling these issues.”
He explained that because the stakes are high, security is the House’s priority. ”Therefore, solutions to insecurity in the country must be thought of outside the box by taking the fight to these criminals,” he said.