A pro-democracy and Pro-transparency Non-Governmental organization- HUMAN RIGHTS WRITERS ASSOCIATION OF NIGERIA (HURIWA) has tasked ministers and heads of federal government agencies to emulate the shining examples of the Chief of Army staff Lieutenant General Tukur Yusuf Buratai by rapidly responding to numerous requests made by groups and individuals to them about their procurement and administration of public finances in their custody.
HURIWA which spoke against the backdrop of the emerging information that the Chief of Army staff Lieutenant General Tukur Yusuf Buratai immediately sent a comprehensive and thoroughly accountable response to a Lagos based civil rights group- Socio-economic Rights and Accountability Project (SERAP); Enough is Enough (EIE) and BUDGIT which authored and submitted to the offices of the Chief of Army staff Lieutenant General Tukur Yusuf Buratai a jointly written Freedom of information request on the disclosure of expenses made by the Army in the ongoing counter terror war in the North East of Nigeria. HURIWA said the action of Chief of Army staff Lieutenant General Tukur Yusuf Buratai in responding to this request from Non-Governmental organizations is an unprecedented act of heroism which must be celebrated and adopted as a litmus test for all other Federal Government ministries, agencies and parastatals that operate opaque finding mechanisms which lead to extensive and widening corruption. This good and remarkable example should serve as veritable standard bearer for other state entities that have so far resisted the calls and advocacy for the Freedom of information Act to be domesticated in their States.”
HURIWA recalled that the Chief of Army Staff, Lieutenant General Tukur Buratai had responded to joint freedom of information request sent to him by Socio-Economic Rights and Accountability Project (SERAP), Enough Is Enough (EIE), and BUDGIT requesting him to provide information on spending on military operations across the country, particularly in the northeast.
HURIWA’s hierarchy in a statement by the National Coordinator Comrade Emmanuel Onwubiko and the National Media Affairs Director Miss Zainab Yusuf recalled vividly that in a statement signed on behalf of the groups, Bamisope Adeyanju of SERAP said that a bulky photographic and textual document was delivered to SERAP office by an army officer.
HURIWA quoted SERAP as disclosing that a quick look at the document shows a list of several projects reportedly implemented by the Nigerian Army, including barracks renovation and construction, operational expenditure, troops welfare, and equipment procurement even as she said the groups will study the document carefully to get details of its contents and respond appropriately.
HURIWA further recalled that the Lagos based CSO known as Serap also commended the army’s compliance with the FOI request and urged other public office holders to toe the same line to contribute to efforts at promoting accountability in the country.
HURIWA on its own said the decision of the Chief of Army staff Lieutenant General Tukur Yusuf Buratai deserves a national award and appreciation by the organized civil society community just as it indicated that it has initiated a social media nomination process for credible Non-Governmental organizations around the Country to indicate interest in joining HURIWA and her 35 other affiliates including the Continental body- ASSOCIATION OF AFRICAN WRITERS ON HUMAN AND PEOPLES RIGHTS (AFRIRIGHTS) to confer a GOLD MEDAL AWARD ON the Chief of Army staff Lieutenant General Tukur Yusuf Buratai for this tremendous show of solidarity and support for the total implementation and enforcement of the FREEDOM OF INFORMATION ACT which is a tool for the enthronement of the compliance by all government officials with the time honoured and tested principles of Accountability and Transparency.
HURIWA stated thus: “We have in the last three years sent out over two dozen FOI requests to Federal ministries including ministries of Budget and Planning; Finance; Justice and the National Broadcasting Commission (NBC) but got no response. “We call on President Muhammadu Buhari and the National Assembly to jointly congratulate the hierarchy of the Nigerian Army for this show of respect for the Rule of law”.