Following reports of collaboration between non state actors terrorising the nation and security personnel for personal gains, the Nigerian military authorities have embarked on sensitisation of its personnel, with a view to make them desist from aiding terrorists and bandits.
Several soldiers have been caught in the act supplying arms and ammunitions to terrorists
This year alone, six serving soldiers have been apprehended with live rounds of ammunitions.
While the director, Defence Information, Major General Jimmy Akpor, and director, Defence Media Operations, Major General Benard Onyeuko, did not respond to enquiries about the military hierarchy’s effort at taming the ugly tide, a circular by the Defence Headquarters (DHQ) to units and formations called on commanders to enlighten their personnel against collaborating with the enemy.
The Circular dated 4 April 2022 spotted by LEADERSHIP Weekend acknowledged insider collaborations and tasks commands to educate personnel.
The circular reads: “Recent happenings in various TOOs reveal an increase in cases of aiding, and chatting by personnel.
“This development was revealed in different reports of arrests of military personnel within a short period of time. It would be recalled that a soldier was arrested by a covert Intelligence Team for conniving with a confirmed terrorist informant known as Babagana Kura in Bama LGA, Borno State.
“Similarly, another soldier was arrested with 162 rounds of 762mm (special). 60 rounds ef 762mm NATO and IED making materials concealed in bus travelling bag without a valid ID card. Preliminary investigation further led we the recovery of one AK47 rife, 3 empty magarines and one magazine loaded with 10 rounds of 762mm (special). The arrests of these personnel are indicative of insider action that has continued to aid the adversary, pertinently with immediate or potential impact on operations. These developments therefore underscore the need to sensitize personnel on the implications of collaborating with the enemy while taking appropriate actions that would forestall such incidents.
“In view of the foregoing, I am directed to respectfully request Commands of various operations in the country to educate their personnel on the implications of collaborating with the enemy and take appropriate actions that would forestall such incidents.”
In March last year, a military officer and his girlfriend were caught in Zamfara State supplying arms and camouflage uniforms to bandits.
On March 10, 2022, a serving soldier Pte Momoh Sunday with service number 17NA/76/0820, attached to 19 BN Damboa, was arrested at Maimalari Cantonment’s main gate 1 in Maiduguri.
He was arrested with 300 rounds of 7.62 mm special by the 7 Division Provost group.
In April, a soldier identified as Lance Corporal Jubril reportedly committed suicide after being apprehended for alleged conspiracy.
Jubril, a weapon instructor at the Army Battalion in Gaidam, Yobe State, was said to have disappeared from his area of responsibility for two days.
A source said his colleagues started suspecting him, adding that he was arrested after he was confirmed to be working with the ISWAP/Boko Haram terrorists.
The source added that the soldier committed suicide while in custody.
The source who did not want his name in print said, “They began to be suspicious about the soldier when he disappeared from his duty post for two days. Some of his colleagues also said they saw the soldier among the terrorists who attacked a local joint in Gaidam.
A signal was immediately sent to the Army base in Gashua and dragnets were spread out for him and on Tuesday morning, Jubrin disguised himself and boarded a bus to Gombe State but was identified and nabbed at the checkpoint in Gashua.
LEADERSHIP Weekend gathered that Jubrin was arrested and handcuffed on transit to Geidam, but he employed his skills as a weapon instructor, snatched a gun from one of his escorts, overpowered the other and blew himself up.
When contacted, the assistant director, Army Public Relations, sector 2 Operation Hadin Kai, Lt. Kennedy Anyanwu, confirmed the incident.
He added that investigations were ongoing to confirm the incident leading to his death as well as his allies.
Anyanwu said, “Yes, we received a report of the soldier last week. In the process of arresting him, it was reported that the soldier committed suicide. The sector has commenced a full scale investigation to unravel the circumstances that surrounded that incident. The investigation will also look into other syndicates and accomplices.”
Again, on 11 May 2022, the Nigerian Army arrested three serving soldiers with 1,000 rounds of ammunitions which they intended to sell to terrorists for N1 million.
The soldiers attached to the Forward Operations Base (FOB) in Galadi, Shinkafi local government area of Zamfara State, identified as Pte Bala Nura, LCPL Ehoda Monday and LCPL Shehu Muhammad, were arrested for selling ammunition and military uniforms to armed bandits in the state.
The soldier, Pte Bala Nura, according to sources, confessed to selling 100 rounds of 7.62mm special each to the terrorists at the rate of N100,000.
He was also caught with 1,000 rounds of the same ammunition which he promised to sell to the gunmen for N1 million.
The signal reads: “At about 110845A May 22, investigation carried out on a case of 425 missing ammo a FOB Galadi in Shinkafi local government area of Zamfara state discovered 19NA/78/3870 Pte Bala Nura of same FOB involved in selling ammo to Bandits/Terrorists.
“Soldier confessed selling 100 rounds of 7.62 MM special each at the rate of N100,000 and promised to sell another 1,000 rounds of same ammo to Bandits at the rate of N1,000,000.
“Suspect also MN 15NA/74/3063 LCPL Ehoda Monday and 15NA/74/5023 LCPL Shehu Muhammad as bandits’ collaborators”.
But the director of Army Public Relations, Brigadier General Onyema Nwachukwu, when contacted, said he was not aware of such development.
In March 2021, the Zamfara State government disclosed that a Nigerian soldier and his girlfriend were caught supplying ammunition and military uniforms to armed bandits in the state.
The governor of the state, Bello Matawalle, represented by his deputy chief of staff, Bashir Maru, at a press conference said the soldier was arrested by the military through community-driven intelligence.
He, however, did not provide more details of the alleged incident, saying the state government was waiting for the military authorities to do so.
But findings showed that the said officer was a Captain in the Nigerian Army
“The military recently arrested an army officer and his girlfriend who were engaged in assisting bandits with military uniforms and ammunition in active connivance with other saboteurs. This arrest was only made possible through community-driven intelligence.
“While the state government awaits the action the military will take on this matter and make an official statement, the development has further proved the position of Governor Bello Mohammed that unless the fight against banditry is cleansed of bad eggs and saboteurs, we may not record the desired success in the fight.
“Let me use this medium to salute the courage and patriotism of the individual who came forward with information that led to the arrest of these traitors. Our gratitude knows no bounds,” the official said.
The governor had, on several occasions, earlier alleged sabotage in the fight against banditry in the state.
Also in May 2021, a Nigerian soldier identified as LCPL Sanni Mohammed, was arrested with two boxes containing about 2,000 rounds of 7.62mm ammunition
According to sources, the soldier attached to 198 Special Forces Battalion, had just been relieved of his duties at Damasak town in Borno State after obtaining a sick report.
When interrogated by the police, Mohammed claimed he sourced the ammunition from a broken-down vehicle in his unit.
The managing director of Beacon Consulting, Dr Kabir Umar, while reacting to the development said the involvement of security operatives in gun running activities (armament and ammunition) is well documented.
He said such ugly trend ranges from outright theft from armouries or while on duty.
On his part, Brig Gen Sani Kukasheka Usman (Rtd) said the development was worrisome and condemnable.
He noted: “The involvement in the acts of indiscipline such theft of arms and ammunition is indeed worrisome and disturbing. Such act is condemnable and should not be allowed.
“Therefore, commanders at all levels but most especially both tactical and operational levels must always account for all resources entrusted to them. They must pay attention on their respective arms store men and properly for arms and ammunition periodically.
“Higher authority must ensure proper accountability through periodic checks and administrative inspection on regular basis. They should evolve a scientific means of data base and monitor electronically. They have to evolve a better means of weeding out such criminals in the midst of their respective command.”
The former army spokesman said beyond this, authorities should ensure prompt rotation of troops deployed in theaters of operation.
He added that anyone found guilty should be dealt with in accordance with the extant laws of the land
“They should also expedite rotating all those that stayed long at theatre. Commanders should take more interest in what goes in various parts of their unit especially the arms store. They should regularly rotate troops and individual soldiers to prevent pilferage through overstaying. Above all, anyone found guilty of such heinous crime should be dealt with in line with extant laws”.