The Nigerian Army said yesterday that investigation has commenced into the case involving some soldiers who allegedly carted away a consignment while on escort duty from Sokoto to Kaduna.
According to Daily Trust, the consignment was containing cash amounting to millions of naira which they were asked to deliver by a VIP.
The Army gave the names of the runaway soldiers as Cpl. Gabriel Oluwaniyi, Cpl. Mohammed Aminu, LCpl. Commander Haruna, LCpl. Oluji Joshua, and LCpl. Hayatudeen.
They were said to be members of Operation Harbin Kunama III in Sokoto.
Spokesman for the 8 Division, Nigerian Army, Sokoto, Lieutenant Audu Arigu, who confirmed that the soldiers fled while on escort duty, said “The wanted soldiers were detailed for legitimate escort duty for a VIP.
However, they chose to rob the VIP. “Investigation has commenced to unravel the circumstances and whereabouts of the soldiers.”
Lieutenant Arigu was however silent on the identity of the VIP robbed by the fleeing soldiers or the total amount of money or valuables they took from him.
A credible source with knowledge of what happened told the Daily Trust last night that the said VIP is Maj. Gen. Hakeem Otiki, the GOC of the 8 Div. Nigerian Army Sokoto.
He said contrary to reports, the GOC was not in the convoy when the escorts absconded, saying the GOC only detailed them from Sokoto to deliver the message.
“The GOC or the said VIP couldn’t have been in the convoy, it didn’t add up…He only sent them based on trust,” he said. The source, who does not want to be mentioned because of the sensitive nature of the matter, said the “consignment” definitely belonged to the GOC of 8 Division Sokoto.
“The money is definitely huge, most probably hundreds of millions,” he said.
Two of the runaway soldiers arrested According to the source, “It is normal in the military, every senior person has his trusted foot soldiers; some officers even entrust their families and top secrets to such soldiers and this is what played out with the GOC in Sokoto; he entrusted them with the money and they fled with it.
“Again, I want to assure that two of the absconding soldiers have been arrested and there is the high probability that the rest would also be arrested.
I will not tell you the names, the Army will reveal the names very soon. “However, the damage has been done. As a matter of protocol, the arrested soldiers would be asked the source of the money; who authorised them to use the vehicles and many other questions.
The discovery will be a bad day for many people,” the source said. Daily Trust reports that until his deployment to Sokoto as GOC, General Otiki was the Commander Infantry Corps (CIC) in Jaji, Kaduna State.
It was gathered that all the absconding soldiers now being trailed by the Nigerian Army were also from Jaji but moved to Sokoto at the instance of Gen. Otiki.
Sources said the soldiers left Sokoto on Tuesday, July 11 en route Abuja but decided to abort the mission around Jaji.
“The real target of the absconding soldiers was the money because they abandoned the Hilux, the gun trucks, their uniforms and guns,” our source said. “And when they couldn’t reach their destination and couldn’t go back to Sokoto, there was disquiet and agitation at the highest quarters in Sokoto.
“The rumour begun to circulate in the barracks and when it was evident that what happened had been leaked, a scanty statement was issued,” the source added.