On Tuesday, June 26, 2019, Senator Ibikunle Amosun, immediate past governor of Ogun State, issued a press statement through his media assistant, Rotimi Durojaiye.
The press statement reacted to the Premium Times’ publication of Monday, June 24, 2019, entitled “Amosun surrenders 1000 A47 rifles, 4 Million bullets acquired before 2019 elections”. In the report, Premium Times stated that the then outgoing governor of Ogun State on May 28, 2019, delivered a number of arms and ammunition and security accoutrements to the Ogun State Police Command and Commissioner of Police at a weapons handover ceremony, covered by the media. The arms and ammunition were removed from an armoury located in the State Government House, Abeokuta. The import and purport of the report were that the arms and ammunition were improperly procured and were illicitly kept in the custody of the Governor at the Government House, same not being a designated armoury.
In the press statement, however, Ex-Governor Ibikunle Amosun claimed that the arms and ammunition were appropriately and lawfully purchased and acquired under an end user certificate duly issued by the Office of the National Security Adviser (NSA) in 2012 under the Goodluck Jonathan Administration; and that same were partially released to the police in 2012, while the remainder was kept in an armoury at the State House in his custody, as the Governor. It was not clear from the statement who was the NSA, at the material time, (whether Sambo Dasuki/ Owoye Andrew Azazi), Sambo Dasuki having been appointed to that office on June 22, 2012. It was also not clear whether the statement imagined that either of the duo could be made available to provide corroborative testimony, with one being dead and the other in custody of the DSS, allegedly held incommunicado. As for the former President, if the Olisa Metuh trial offers any guide, it may take over one billion naira to summon him to give testimony if a grand investigation into the “arms concealment” allegations were to be ordered.
The weapons, the ex-governor claimed, were so stored to prevent their deployment to other States in the Federation, by the directive of the Police High Command. He claimed he decided to turn in the armoury and its entire arsenal at the end of his administration because he did not want the same to fall into wrong hands.
Ogun State Police Commissioner, Bashir Makama
Upon request by Premium Times that we analyse the press statement, we have studied the defence of Ex-Governor Amosun to the grave allegations contained in the Premium Times’ report and follow-up stories. With “profound respect” to Ex-Governor Amosun, we find his explanations, vague, not credible, unsubstantiated, unsatisfactory and full of gaps.
Below, we have raised a number of questions, based on his explanations and defence, which if honestly pondered, will justify our conclusions.
1. Was the Ex-Governor Ibikunle Amosun involved in any other lawful or unlawful procurement and importation of arms and ammunition into Ogun State, and the storage of same at the Ogun State Government House or in any other part of Ogun State between his declared 2012 arms and ammunition importation, and the 28th May, 2019, when he handed over the arms and ammunition in question?
2. Can the Ex-Governor affirm that there was no recent arms and ammunition importation and storage; and that his administration was involved in arms and ammunition importation only in 2012, during the eight-year, two-term tenure of his administration?
3. When the arms and ammunition and accoutrements were allegedly purchased in 2012, did the purchase follow the due process? Was an End User Certificate from the appropriate authority, in this case, the Office of the National Security Adviser (NSA), obtained prior to the order, purchase, shipments and delivery of the arms and ammunition?
4. Who, on record, was the end user of the arms and ammunition: the Nigeria Police Force, Ogun State Government, Governor Ibikunle Amosun or a contractor to the Ogun State Government?
5. Could the Ogun State Government or the Ex-Governor or any arms and ammunition supply contractor, other than the Nigeria Police Force, have been the end user of the arms and ammunition, in the circumstances of their purchase and importation?
6. Who, in fact, and in law, was the end user, or user of the arms and ammunition at the end of the procurement, shipment, importation and delivery chain, to whom an end user certificate could have been, and actually was issued by the Office of the NSA?
7. Were the Ogun State Government and Governor Ibikunle Amosun the named end users of the imported ammunitions under the end user certificate allegedly obtained in 2012
8. Could the Ogun State Government and the Ex-Governor have been lawfully designated as the end users under the End User Certificate?
9. Who took delivery, and custody of the imported arms and ammunition in 2012: the Ogun State Government, the Governor, the Nigeria Police Force or a contractor?
10. Who, in law, could lawfully have taken custody of the arms and ammunition imported and delivered in 2012?
11. Were the requisite request from the Nigeria Police Force and approvals from the Directorate of State Security Services obtained before the alleged issuance of the End User Certificate by the Office of NSA to the Ogun State Government or the Governor of Ogun State, as claimed by the Ex-Governor?
12. Will the entire documentation concerning the alleged procurement, importation, delivery, storage and use of the arms and ammunition be made available by the Ex-Governor, the Ogun State Government, the Nigeria Police Force or the Contractor, if requested by PT, under the Freedom of Information Act’s public documents requests protocols?
13. If the Nigeria Police Force was the designated or named end user of the arms and ammunition, said to have been imported in 2102, could the lawful custody of the arms and ammunition have been taken by the Ogun State Government or Ex-Governor Ibikunle Amosun or yielded to Ex-Governor Ibikunle Amosun, who were not the end users?
14. If the Ogun State Government and Ex-Governor Amosun were the end users stated in the End User Certificate allegedly issued in 2012, why did they need to hand over the arms and ammunition (of which they were the named end users) to the Police in 2012 or on the 28th of May, 2019; why not continue to keep them and hand them over to the incoming Governor (new Governor) and Government?
15. Assuming, without conceding, that the arms and ammunition were lawfully kept in the custody of Ex-Governor Amosun, more or less as OC Weps. (officer in charge of weapons), between 2012 and 2019, by what legal authority and statutorily backed procedure were the weapons kept, and being released piecemeal and dispensed to the police or any other security agencies in Ogun State (customs, NSCDC, DSS, the military)?
16. Further to Question 15 above, where could the inventories and records of such periodic release and use of the arms and ammunition be found; will the records be yielded under an FOI request?
17. If the arms and ammunition were not being released piecemeal, why were they kept unused and idle by the Ex-Governor, only to be handed over to the Police on the 28th of May, 2019?
18. Under the Firearms Act, the Police Act, the National Security Agencies Act and regulations made thereunder; or indeed any Ogun State-made law, is there any provision designating the Ogun State Government House or Governor’s Office or premises as an armoury for keeping such arms and ammunition?
19. Was the Ogun State Government House or Governor’s Office or premises an armoury under the relevant provisions of the Firearms Act?
20. As alleged by the Ex-Governor, will he affirm that, to his knowledge, arms and ammunition are usually imported into the Country by State Governors under the guise of same being released to the Police to combat crimes in the respective States, and are upon delivery kept in armouries established in State Government Houses all over the Country?
21. Will the Ex-Governor confirm that armouries exist in all the State Government Houses in all the States of the Federation where arms and ammunition are kept, and periodically issued to the Police?
22. For the seven (7) years between the alleged procurement of the arms and ammunition in question in 2012 and the delivery of the “remainder in 2019”, who secured the arms and ammunition at the Ogun State Government House: the Police, DSS operatives, NSCDC operatives, soldiers, civilian employees or politicians?
23. Further to Question 22 above, are the sentinels who secured the arms and ammunition at the Government House, available for interview or questioning by Premium Times’ reporters and the National Security Establishment?
24. Who authorised the Governor to be the custodian of the arms and ammunition, such that he could be held responsible for same as he declared on tape in the handover ceremony?
25. Why did the Ex-Governor wait till the 28th of May 2019 to hand over the “remainder “of the arms and ammunition?
26. When the arms and ammunition were allegedly purchased in 2012, and the handover was done, with the former IGP, MD Abubakar and the Ex-Governor presiding, why was the whole delivered consignment not handed over to the Police?
27. Since all the AK 47 rifles that were allegedly procured in 2012 were allegedly handed over to the Police, the end user, in 2012, why were the other procurements, including the ammunition (bullets) to be used by the AK47 rifles, not handed over to the Police, at the same time, especially given usual media reports after unsuccessful anti-robbery (interception) operations that policemen are outgunned by bandits?
28. If no AK 47 rifle was handed over to the Police on the 28th May, 2019, why did Ex-Governor Amosun so declare in the televised and reported speech that he made on that day; and why did many media organisations including OGTV report that 1,000 AK47 rifles and other ammunition loaded in four trucks were handed over?
29. Was a joint, pre-delivery inspection of the arms and ammunitions conducted, by the Ex-Governor and the Police, and was an inventory of the “ remainder” of the arms and ammunition taken before the handover on May 28, 2019; if no, why?
30. If a joint or single pre-delivery inspection of the arms and ammunition was conducted and inventory thereof was taken, why were there discrepancies between the quantum of arms and ammunition that the Ex-Governor openly declared he was handing over, and the ones the Commissioner of Police declared later in his newspaper interviews ( The Nation; This Day and in the Vanguard) ?
31. Why did the Ex-Governor declare that he was handing over four million (4,000,000) rounds of “ammo”, contrary to the media disclosures and declaration of the Commissioner of Police that, upon delivery, when the police checked the delivered “ammo”, the police only confirmed the delivery and receipt of one million and four hundred thousand ( 1, 400,000) and a fraction of rounds of ammo?
32. Further to Question 31 above, why did the police need to check and confirm numbers of the pieces of arms and ammunition, if, as claimed by the Ex-Governor, the police was a part and parcel of the maintenance and operation of the armoury (albeit same was located in the Government House), and was the actual end user of the stored arms and ammunition (same being in its constructive custody), between 2012 and 28th May 2019; why did the police have to check the arms and ammunition it was co-keeping and which was in its constructive possession?
33. Why did the Ogun State Police Command and the Commissioner of Police, Ogun State Police Command refuse to officially file a report to the Inspector General of Police or Force Headquarters upon taking delivery of the “remainder” of the arms and ammunition, for about three weeks, until PT was about to publish the story, as stated by PT in its reports?
34. Why was the IGP not invited to the delivery ceremony of the “last batch” of the 2012 procured arms and ammunition, as it was the case in 2012 when MD Abubakar, the IGP then was present at the delivery of the “main batch” to the Police?
35. Why were the security reports made by other security agencies, as allegedly sighted by PT, consistent in echoing the claim that 1,000 AK47 rifles were delivered; was it not because of the declaration of the Ex-Governor at the ceremony, which was held without the public examination or display of the arms and ammunition being handed over, all of which were kept in four (4) trucks?
36. Why did the Police Commissioner in breach of the obligation he owed PT under the provisions of the FOI Act, Section 39 of the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, 1999, as amended, and Section 22 of the same Constitution, fail, refuse or neglect to answer questions seeking clarifications on the arms and ammunitions handover exercise, for five (5) straight days, before the first report on the scandal was published by PT?
37. Why did Ex-Governor Amosun and his media aide, like the Commissioner of Police, Ogun State, refuse, fail or neglect to answer questions from PT for five (5) straight days when they were vigorously pestered for clarifications, for reason of balance in reportage; if the issue was that simple as blustered out in their rejoinder or rebuttal; why did they not seize an early opportunity they were afforded to shed light on the putative story of PT, and clarify issues?
38. Why did the Commissioner of Police Ogun State or the Ogun State Police Command keep mum for that inordinate length of time, only for the Commissioner to immediately come out to offer clarifications after PT’s publication; were they in any way compromised by political considerations or any other considerations?
The Federal Government of Nigeria owes the people of this Country a duty to cause a high level investigation into the circumstances surrounding the procurement and importation of the arms and ammunition, the establishment and operation of the armoury in the Ogun State Government House, the storage of the arms and ammunition and their eventual handover to the police on May 28, 2019. Doing so will go a long way in convincing Nigerians and the international community that it does care about proliferation of small arms and light weapons in the country, and the rise in electoral violence and urban banditry.
Mr Ogunye, lawyer, legal commentator, author, and essayist, is the Legal Adviser of Premium Times