The 11 July 2014 online publication by Sahara Reporters with the caption “Nigerian Army Generals Pocketed $43m Meant For Peacekeepers”, which it attributed to an anonymous petition it had received calls for some clarifications. It is quite unfortunate that in total disregard for fairness and balance reportage, Sahara Reporters has rushed to the press and proceeded to publish same without taking necessary steps to inquire or hear from the relevant military authorities. Again, the reference to an anonymous petition as being “powerful’ by the medium is not only an attempt to be prejudicial, but a clear indication of bias in favour of the authors of the spurious petition.
Perhaps if Sahara Reporters had gone a little further towards due diligence it would have found out that the Nigerian Army has never in any way denied that some troops who had concluded their tour of duty in some Peace Support Operations were yet to be fully remunerated. Nevertheless, there is no case of embezzlement as alleged in the report.
It is noteworthy that the long process of streamlining the procedure for securing funds for Peace Support Operations goes beyond the Nigerian military establishment. It involves the procedures and protocols of mission sponsoring agencies such as the United Nations, African Union and ECOWAS among others.
It is therefore curious that this misleading information is coming at a time when the major issues are being resolved and payment has actually commenced on the basis of the order of entry or exit of the various Nigerian Contingents (NIBATTS) into the Peace Support Operations. The motive of the petitioners and those propagating it therefore becomes more suspect as the article went further to disparage and libel the leadership and individual officers of the Nigerian Military. Granted that the so called “ powerful anonymous petition” on Sahara Reporters for whatever reason could be outrightly mischievous, one must reiterate the fact that the publishers of the petition would have done their readers and the nation a world of good by endeavouring to seek the facts on this issue before going ahead with the article which is apparently intended to scandalize the Nigerian military.
It is thus expedient to state that it is not in the character of the Nigerian Army to toe the path of embezzlement as the said anonymous petition or its publisher have attempted to ascribe to the leadership of the Nigerian Army or the military as an institution.
The Nigeria Army and indeed the Armed Forces has a functional system of check and balance that does not permit the kind of sharp practice insinuated in the Sahara Reporters story. The instrument of discipline provided to checkmate such practices cannot be compromised as it forms the very foundation upon which the military is established. Engaging in such practices irrespective of status will naturally trigger the system of check and balance and such nefarious act cannot go undetected.
Indeed, if the anonymous petitioners had been a little more patient, it would have dawned on them that the hitch in the payment of the said entitlements is not crafted by the military authorities for usurping any gain, but only a fall out of vital financial procedures. The authorities had actually utilized extra-ordinary approaches to mitigate the effect.
Unfortunately, hasty allegations such as the ones contained in the petition only serve to generate disaffection in the system. While all officers and soldiers are enjoined not to allow themselves to be swayed by this alarmist insinuations, the general public is advise to discountenance the material as a misleading remarks on actual situation in the military.