Nigeria’s federal lawmakers in the Senate and House of Representatives have been called upon to probe the recent stealing of hundreds of millions of naira by some soldiers detailed to escort a top government official.
Reports earlier in the week said the soldiers were detailed on July 11 to escort a bullion van backed with a convoy of Toyota Hilux and a Buffalo gun truck from Sokoto to Jaji.
The soldiers, after they escorted the cash to Jaji airstrip were said to have refused to load the money into a waiting jet.
In a joint statement on Friday, Human and Environmental Development Agenda, (HEDA) and Civil Society Legislative Advocacy Centre/Transparency International, Nigeria (CISLAC) said Nigerians needed full disclosure on the scandal saying it was a national embarrassment.
The group noted that it was unfortunate that the Chief of Army Staff, Lt Gen Yusuf Buratai, had refused to speak on the embarrassing development.
The two organizations said the “stealing of the money by soldiers” who should represent a qualitative moral fabric of the country raised serious questions about Nigeria’s commitment to the fight against corruption.
“We call on the National Assembly to probe this incident. The House Committee on Defence needs to provide the necessary clue. There is no doubt that the action of these soldiers will have a serious impact on the campaign against terrorism. The Senate should get to the root of this matter before it is too late. If nothing is done, other soldiers on the frontline may be encouraged to embark of stealing of national assets,” Olanrewaju Suraju and Anwalu Rafsanjani stated.
The groups said the Senate should unravel the owner of the money to either confirm or deny speculations that the funds belonged to Major General Hakeem Otiki, the General Officer Commanding, 8th Division of the Nigerian Army in Sokoto.
HEDA and CISLAC said that security operatives should be the best examples in any country’s campaign against corruption, adding that the theft indicated that the soldiers have no iota of discipline and respect for the President Muhammadu Buhari.
The groups said, “They dared the consequences of crime probably because they knew it was a trend in the armed forces. There is a major problem if security operatives have no respect for the Commander-in-Chief of the Armed forces”.
A few days ago, the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) handed over to Voice of Nigeria a property belonging to a former military chief to the government by a court.
The groups stated further: “We call on the National Assembly to treat this issue as a top priority. Who are these soldiers? How much was the money involved? Who owns the money? Is the money owned by an individual or by the country? Is the money the proceeds of crime? There are many questions waiting to be answered.”