The General Officer Commanding(GOC), 8 Division Sokoto, Maj-Gen. Hakeem Otiki, has been placed under house arrest by the Chief of Army Staff (COAS), Lt-Gen. Tukur Buratai.
This is even as new revelation indicated that the money stolen by the escort soldiers is N1 billion and not the N400 million as was initially reported.
Military sources close to the case informed Global Sentinel on Sunday that further investigation revealed that the money allegedly carted away by the escort soldiers is about N1 billion in cash.
The Senior Officer who expressed shock over the development said more revelations are being made, adding that the authorities are still “digging into the situation”.
He said: “This is very very sad I feel sad for what our officers are turning into. There is no financial oversight in the military wallahi…not from Presidency, not from Ministry of Defence and definitely not from the National Assembly.”
Another Officer who also spoke on the condition of anonymity regretted that lack of accountability and oversight mechanisms had become the norm in the security and defence sector, stressing that there is “a lot of loose money around”.
Also, the Daily Sun reported that the officer who was redeployed to the Administrative Staff College of Nigeria (ASCON), is currently being detained at the Officers Mess where he is being guarded by heavily armed soldiers and may be moved to Abuja anytime from now for possible Court-Martial.
When finally in Abuja, he is expected to be grilled by personnel from the Directorate of Military Intelligence (DMI), Special Intelligence Bureau (SIB), and Nigerian Army Corps of Military Police (NACMP).
According to the report, the so-called VIP, allegedly being escorted by the soldiers who happens to be the younger brother of the former GOC, actually connived with the soldiers to steal the N400million as he is nowhere to be found.
Also, contrary to speculations that two soldiers have been arrested in connection with the crime, the report gathered that it was not true.
What happened was that one of the soldiers in the escort who refused to join with his colleague in the crime was the one who returned and reported the matter to the authorities.
According to military sources, Gen Otiki, who is concluding plans to hand over to his predecessor and newly painted GOC, Major General Otolagbe, is said to have been closely monitored by personnel from the Directorate of Military Intelligence(DMI), Special Intelligence Bureau(SIB) and Nigerian Army Corps of Military Police(NACMP), so he would not disappear.
Also visitors willing to see the former GOC, are thoroughly being screened while those who are perceived to be suspicious are not allowed access to him.
Until his appointment, Ogunlade, was the Field Commander in charge of Operation Hadaran Daji.
Military sources told Daily Sun that none of the soldiers have been arrested so far as the solders made their arrest difficult for the security operatives.
The source who does not want to be mentioned, hinted that by dropping their riffles and other military accoutrements as well as their mobile phones, their arrest may not be possible in the coming days.
However controversy has continued to trail the actual source of the huge sum of money.
While some say the money may have been gotten from proceeds of illegal bunkering, others say the money was meant to pay troops allowances who have have not been paid in the last two months.
However others are 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.
It was also gathered Otuji’s posting to ASCON, may be or have been reversed because of the matter.
A source who would not want to be mentioned because he is not authorised to speak on the matter maintained that the money 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.
“Buying of weapons is the sole responsibility of the government. But with what has happened so far the officer must have been involved in illegal mining or providing security for illegal miners after which he gets his cut because from investigations so far, this is not the first time the escort have transported huge monies for their master.”
The source further revealed that “investigations have also shown that there was connivance with the younger brother of the officer who was acclaimed to be the VIP the soldiers were escorting because he has also disappeared into thin air and he like the fleeing soldiers also left his mobile phone in the car which has made it difficult for investigators to track him”.
On what the next line of action would be, the source said “right now he is still in his last area of posting, Sokoto and closely being monitored to prevent him from escaping because anything can happen and the army is not taking any chances”.
“He will be there for now where he is expected to do a proper handing and taking over after which he would be brought to Abuja for further investigation and interrogation,” the source said.