Recently, the media space has been inundated with the story of some soldiers who were detailed on escort duty from Sokoto to Kaduna for a VIP whom they allegedly robbed.
The soldiers, Cpl Gabriel Oluwaniyi, Cpl Mohammed Aminu, LCpl Commander Haruna, LCpl Oluji Joshua, and LCpl Hayatudee, who are said to be members of Operation Harbin Kunama III of the Nigerian Army 8 Division Sokoto, absconded with a purported sum of N400m, a sum the Nigerian Army Authority said it is not confirmed.
Reports have it that the runaway soldiers abandoned their rifles and their mobile phones at the infantry corps in Jaji, Kaduna state, they hijacked the undisclosed amount of money and they all escaped.
Expectedly, the Nigerian Army has commenced investigations on the alleged stealing of money by these soldiers. The military authorities had quizzed Major General Hakeem Otiki, former general officer commanding (GOC) of the division, who ordered the five soldiers to escort the money.
Apart from the quizzing, the former GOC was cross-examined by the Directorate of Military Intelligence, the Special Intelligence Bureau and the Nigerian Army Corps of Military Police and was said to be under close watch but truly, a man planning this large scale of theft would have made adequate provision for his escape or even planned a better alibi than the status quo.
A statement from the Nigerian Army through Col. Sagir Musa, Acting Director of Army Public Relations on the 15th July, 2019 indicated that the army is carrying out a routine investigation on the incident.
As against the fallacious media reports spreading around, The Nigerian Army specifically stated that on the 11th July, the 5 Soldiers escorted the VIP (name undisclosed) was in a white Hilux while the escorts were in a Buffalo gun truck and the soldiers connived and rubbed the VIP at gun point on their way to Kaduna.
The Army authority categorically said that the amount of the money been hijacked is not known and the money belong to the VIP and not the Gen. HO Otiki the then (GOC) of the 8 Division as was fallaciously imputed in some media reports.
Though the Army authority said that neither the GOC or any personnel of the Division is aware of the exact amount of money in possession of the VIP and it is only the person involved (the VIP) that knows the total amount involved and could disclose to the media if need be but the 5 deserting and disgraceful soldiers are to be apprehended and handed over to the 8 Division Provost Group for prompt action and prosecution.
Consequence of the disgraceful, embarrassing and unimaginable professional infraction by the five soldiers, who connived and orchestrated the robbery and thereafter deserted/absconded, the Nigerian Army authority has on receiving the report, constituted a high-powered committee to holistically, thoroughly and decisively investigate the sad incident.
Observers of this unfolding drama are still wondering how monies meant to pay troops allowance was transported from Sokoto to Kaduna by road. But all that would be left for the investigative panel, who are awaiting the arrival of the senior officer to unravel in the coming days.
An anonymous source of one of the mainstream media has also been quoted to say that the money in question does not belong to the Nigerian Army. The source said, The Army cannot and will not give any commander that kind of money because they are not the ones that buy the weapons. That kind of money can only be given to you if they want to buy weapon but we all know that buying of weapons and ammunition is not the responsibility of General Officer Commanding, Commanding Officers or commanders.
As against some opinions and comments by different people on the media that the said money been robbed was meant to procure ammunitions for the Army in the 8 Division, it must be mentioned that the GOC is not in any way responsible for the procurement of ammunitions for his Arm Division but rather, it is the responsibility of the Procurement Department of the Nigerian Army Headquarters in Abuja and such procurement would not be done in cash as fallaciously reported in the media.
Besides the hilarious and ridiculous comments that the money been hijacked by the 5 absconded soldiers is meant to buy ammunitions for the Division, it is also reported by different quarters that the VIP been escorted or expecting the money is a brother of the GOC is a complete comical expression as no civilian brother of the GOC is been declared to be involved or under arrest by the Army authority, therefore, it is quite beyond the obvious that the scenario is an excellently staged coup de grace.
Based on the above, the interrogation of Gen. HO Otiki in this army saga, however, is becoming a source of concern, considering the circumstances as well as the manner in which the said event occurred.
It appears that the victim will have to become the hunted in this case. The reason for this may not be unconnected to his excellent military record particularly on his performances at various military postings and Commands before the incident and the prospect of his (Gen. Otikis) elevation to the highest level in the military service.
According to our findings and information at our disposals, Gen. Hakeem Otiki is a brave, fearless and highly committed soldier who leave no stone unturned in the discharge of his duties importantly as the GOC of 8 Division Sokoto where he moderated security assignments that ensured successful conduct of the gubernatorial election and no life was lost and no property was vandalized.
Not this report but the entire nation can testify to the security situation of security challenges in Zamfara State particularly before this year March and since then that Gen. HO Otiki assumed duty as the GOC of the Army 8 Division.
A military Commanding Officer from the South West who fearlessly and gallantly brought the deadly activities of bandits and kidnappers to almost a zero level in the Kaduna, Sokoto and Zamfara States without shying away from the political and traditional authorities in the States.
Convincingly, this sad development calls for immediate reactions of the South West leaders as well as stakeholders in the country.
In fact, the sketchy story with many holes and many questions begging for answers all point to witch-hunting incident to prevent Gen. Otiki from ascending the peak in his chosen career.
We strongly hold on to the Army Press Release that the said money does not belong to the Nigerian Army or any of its personnel, including Gen. HO Otiki but an undisclosed VIP and the quizzing Gen. Hakeem Oladapo Otiki is a question for concerns.
Indicting Gen. Hakeem Otiki without hard evidence will send the wrong messages to different quarters and could serve as poor motivation for upcoming commanding officers.
At this juncture, it is safe to say that the Nigerian Army has the entire nation waiting for the outcome of its investigation.
By Victor Ojelabi
Inclusive Foundation Mourns Veteran Actress, Rachael Oniga
Inclusive Social Welfare and Empowerment Foundation, a non-governmental organisation has expressed its heartfelt sympathy to family, friends and the entire movie industry over the loss of the veteran actress, Rachael Oniga who died at age 64.
The CEO of the foundation, Chief (Mrs.) Pat Eleto, in a condolence visit to the family, on Saturday, July 31st, said the news came as a rude shock to many, but she believes that the late actress has created a great impact with her career, and her legacy should never be forgotten.
In her statement, Chief (Mrs.)Eleto said:
“It is with a heavy heart that I grief with the family of a sister, friend and adviser of Inclusive Social Welfare and Empowerment Foundation.
“Mrs. Oniga, is one of our great ambassadors, and we were actually working on a project that is meant for the later part of this year when the sad news of her demise came.
“Death is inevitable, we pray for the repose of her soul, and may God comfort all the people she left behind. We also hope and pray that all her good legacies, be sustained because, she was indeed a pillar of support to our foundation, and also one of veterans that contributed immensely to the growth of Nollywood,” the statement reads.
A native of Delta State, Oniga was one of the ambassadors of Inclusive Social Welfare and Empowerment Foundation.
Alaafin Shuns Ooni-Backed Group Over Alleged Anti-Buhari Posture
The Alaafin of Oyo, Oba Lamidi Adeyemi, on Friday, at the last minute, allegedly cancelled an appointment he gave to a Yoruba group, Ooni’s Caucus, on the alleged complaint that members of the group are “notorious critics” of the regime of the President, Major General Muhammadu Buhari (retd.).
The Ooni’s Caucus, which was inaugurated at the palace of the Ooni of Ife, Oba Adeyeye Ogunwusi, on July 20, 2021, is made of many influential Yoruba persons and is being coordinated by a former Managing Director of the News Agency of Nigeria, Mr Akin Osuntokun.
PUNCH learnt that Osuntokun led about 14 members of the group to Alaafin’s palace for the alleged 11am appointment on Friday, but after waiting for about two and a half hours, the influential monarch sent words to them that he would not be seeing them.
According to a source, who spoke to PUNCH on condition of anonymity, some of the group’s members who went to Alaafin’s palace with Osuntokun were a monarch, the Olugbon of Orile-Igbon, Oba Francis Alao; a former presidential spokesman, Dr Doyin Okupe; a former commissioner in Osun State, Muyiwa Ige; a former Minister of Defence, Mrs Dupe Adelaja; a retired Deputy Inspector-General of Police, Taiwo Lakanu, Oye Oyewumi, Sola Lawal, among others.
A former governor of Ogun State, Otunba Gbenga Daniel, is also said to be a member of Ooni’s Caucus, but he was not on the delegation to Alaafin’s palace on Friday.
The source, who is a member of the group, claimed that the group had through the Olugbon secured an appointment with Alaafin since Monday, and the same appointment was confirmed on Thursday, only for them to get to the palace and the Alaafin refused to see them on the claim that they were anti-Buhari and were also loyalists of former President Olusegun Obasanjo.
The source explained that the main purpose of the meeting was for the newly-inaugurated group to get Alaafin’s blessings and to possibly discuss the issue of the embattled Yoruba Nation agitator, Chief Sunday Adeyemo, alias Sunday Igboho, who is currently being held and tried in Cotonou, Benin Republic.
The source said, “The Olugbon, a member of the caucus, was the one who booked the appointment, but he said the Alaafin said he didn’t want to see us because we’re notorious critics of the Buhari government.
“He (Alaafin) confirmed the appointment yesterday (Thursday). But when we got there today, he kept us waiting; after a while, he asked to see the Olugbon. He (Alaafin) didn’t come to see us; we were told he said he wouldn’t see us because we are notorious critics of Buhari’s government and that some of us are close to Obasanjo, who is also critical of the government.
“We were made to wait for about two and a half hours; he gave us an appointment for 11am; we got there at 11am and at about 1.30pm, that was when it was obvious to us that he wasn’t coming (to see us). But he initially asked to see the Olugbon, who went to see him for about an hour. When the Olugbon eventually came back, he said Alaafin would not see us, saying we are a group that is critical of the Buhari government and some of us are loyalists of Obasanjo.”
On whether the group’s mission to Alaafin’s palace was to discuss Sunday Igboho’s matter, the source said, “Of course, the issue (of Igboho) would come up but that was not the purpose of the visit. The issue of Igboho concerns all the Yoruba people but that was not our reason for going to him.”
On whether the group would try and book another appointment, the source said, “I don’t know; we were all surprised that a Yoruba oba can refuse to see his children on account of not wanting to be on the bad side of Buhari’s government. I would have thought that an oba is supposed to take everybody as his children, whether they are supporters of Buhari the All progressives Congress or the Peoples Democratic Party or whatever party.”
But when contacted by PUNCH, the Media Director to the Alaafin, Bode Durojaye, said the reason his principal did not see the group was because they did not have any prior appointment with him.
Durojaye said the Alaafin would be willing to entertain the group if they booked an appointment.
He said, “Those who came are men of honour and kabiyesi did not say he did not want to see them. He did not say he would not see them because they are critical of President Buhari or they are former President Olusegun Obasanjo’s men. Obasanjo himself is a friend of Kabiyesi, so you can see that what you were told was not what happened.
“Kabiyesi said he could not see them because they did not give him prior notice that they were coming. That doesn’t mean he doesn’t want to see them again. They can notify him and he will give them an appointment. You cannot just come and say you want to see him, there are protocols to follow and due process is always adhered to at Alaafin’s Palace.
“There was no rancour, no ill-feeling even when they were going; I was there and I saw them off to their vehicles. If anybody told you that kabiyesi said he didn’t want to see them because they are critical of government or they are Obasanjo’s men, that is a lie.”
NMA Reacts As Bandits Break Into, Pick Nurse At Zamfara General Hospital
Suspected bandits invaded General Hospital, Dansadau, Maru Local Government Area of Zamfara State on Friday, resulting in the abduction of a nurse and caregiver.
Residents said that immediately the men stormed the medical facility, the armed men headed to the outpatient ward in search of a doctor or nurse.
“When they couldn’t find anybody there, they started going from one ward to another. A nurse and a caregiver were abducted. They then moved to staff quarters looking for doctors and nurses but could not find any.”
“The armed criminals had earlier attempted to attack Maigoge, a community located six kilometres north of Dansadau town.
“But when they laid siege to the community, the vigilantes otherwise known as Yan Sakai firmly defended the village. The vigilante killed some of the bandits and injured several others.
“They then invaded the hospital to kidnap nurse and doctors that will treat their injured brothers in the forest.”
Maigoge is one of the few communities in Dansadau Emirate known to be firmly defending themselves against bandits.
“The staff of the facility are not carrying out night duties now. They only attend to patients at day time. They then move inside the town to spend night usually at undisclosed locations,” he added.
Meanwhile, the chairman of the Nigerian Medical Association in Zamfara state, Dr Mannir Bature, who confirmed the attack said the association is worried by the unfortunate incident.
He said they would hold an emergency state officers council meeting on Saturday.
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