National Assembly urged to probe soldiers’ theft of huge cash


#TrackNigeria — The National Assembly has been asked to probe the recent theft of cash running into hundreds of millions by some soldiers detailed to escort a large amount of cash said to belong to a top government official.
Reports earlier in the week said the soldiers were detailed on July 11 to escort millions of Naira in 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 need full disclosure on the scandal saying it was a national embarrassment. The group said it was unfortunate that the Chief of Army Staff, Lt Gen Yusuf Buratai has refused to speak on the embarrassing development.

The two organisations said the stealing of the money by soldiers who should represent a qualitative moral fabric of the country has raised serious questions about Nigeria’s commitment to the fight against corruption.

“We call on the National Assembly to probe this incidence. The House Committee on Defense needs to provide the necessary clue. There is no doubt that the action of these soldiers will have 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 Auwal  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.  It said that the theft indicated that the soldiers have no iota of discipline adding that they have no respect for the President of the country.

“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”. The Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) few days ago handed over to Voice of Nigeria a monumental edifice forfeited to the government by a former military chief.

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.”