Kingsley Nwezeh in Abuja
The Defence Headquarters (DHQ) yesterday officially confirmed that the former General Officer Commanding (GOC), 8 Division of the Nigerian Army, Sokoto, Major General Hakeem Otiki, was under investigation for alleged theft of N1 billion by soldiers under his command.
The disclosure came as the Nigerian Army said some recently procured anti-mine weapons deployed in the North-east were not meeting the targets of its tactical operations.
Defence Headquarters also disclosed that the troops of the anti-armed banditry joint operations code-named ‘Operation Hadarin Daji,’ decimated 132 bandits in Zamfara State and contiguous states in the North-west in the last two months.
Speaking at a press conference in Abuja, the Director, Defence Information, Col. Onyema Nwachukwu, confirmed that Otiki was under investigation.
“The issue is being addressed. There is an ongoing investigation. The outcome will be made available. I do not want to preempt investigation,” he said.
The Nigerian Army had declared five soldiers wanted for absconding with a huge amount of money after robbing an undisclosed “VIP” at gun point. The amount was initially put at N400 million but army sources claimed it was N1 billion.
Following the development, the former GOC was placed under house arrest pending the outcome of the investigation by the Directorate of Military Intelligence (DMI).
Army sources had also faulted claims that the amount in questions was for military operations.
On operation ‘Hadarin Daji’ and ‘Operation Thunder Strike,’ launched to contain armed banditry and kidnapping in the North-west, Nwachukwu said since the separate and independent operations by the three services and security agencies were upgraded to a joint operation, it had yielded results with daring rescue operations and the killing of 54 armed bandits in an encounter with the bandits in fortified enclaves in Morki, Madadad and Dumburum Forests in Zamfara State, recovering several assorted fire arms. The Defence Spokesman said in the last two months 50 kidnapped victims were rescued while 78 armed bandits in Zamfara and contiguous states were killed.
“Additionally, over 25 suspected armed bandits have been arrested and recovered 14 motor cycles used by them. The bandits are undergoing preliminary investigations, after which they will be handed over to appropriate prosecuting agencies”, he said.
Meanwhile, the Nigerian Army said some anti-mine equipment procured from Slovak Republic and deployed to the North-east were not meeting targets of tactical operations.
Speaking while receiving the Ambassador of Slovak Republic to Nigeria, Peter Kolasec, the Chief of Army Staff, Lt. General Yusuf Buratai, said the military procured five consignments of arms and ammunition including 127 mm KVA machine guns, prosena anti-mine equipment and other weapons, which were deployed to the North-east. He said two of the consignments were delivered while three were being awaited.
In his remarks, the Chief of Army Policy and Plans, Lt. General Lamidi Adeosun, said the anti-mine equipment was not meeting expectation of army’s battle plans.
“The Prosena anti-mine equipment is only good for removing mines where war has taken place. We are using it the best way we can but it is not working the way we want it to work. If it can’t’ detect mine from 50 meters, then we need new equipment.
“The way it is, it is not good for tactical operations so that we don’t waste resources”, he said, noting that insurgents deploy Improvised Explosive Devices (IEDs) which were poorly put together while maintaining that what was required was equipment that would detect and neutralise IEDS.
The Ambassador, who recalled that a Nigerian army delegation had visited Slovak Republic to participate in a defence exhibition in that country, pledged that he would take steps to boost cooperation between Nigeria and his country and the armies of the two countries and look into the issues raised.