THERE have been startling revelations about how army officers sold weapons to militant groups in the Niger Delta. According to investigations, thousands of AK-47 rifles, General Purpose Machine guns (GPMGs) and ammunition are said to be missing from the Nigerian Army Central Ordinance Depot in Kaduna.
Upon investigation as ordered by President Umaru Yarâ€™Adua, the missing arms and ammunition were discovered to have been sold to militants in the Niger Delta.
The President, according to sources, ordered the investigations following a discovery by the Chief of Army Staff, Lieutenant General Luka Yusuf, that many of the arms and ammunition that the militant groups were using to kill soldiers of the Joint Task Forces in the Niger Delta were similar to those in the army armoury.
Investigations then revealed that agents of the groups from the area had, indeed, engaged in several arms purchases from the Armyâ€™s Central Ordinance depot in Kaduna to the surprise of the Army chief and the Federal Government. Consequently, 15 officers of the Nigerian Army, including three Colonels, two Lieutenant Colonels, one Major and about 10 NCOs are currently facing a court martial at the Infantry Centre and School in Jaji, Kaduna.
Sources disclosed that the board of enquiry set up to investigate the disappearance of the arms discovered that a Major, who is one of the officers in charge of the Central Ordinance Depot, Kaduna, had over N220 million in his account while a Colonel involved in the matter had about N100 million in his own account. Nine of the non-commissioned officers attached to the ordinance depot had various sums ranging from N50 million, N20 million to N10 million in their accounts.
Indications that there was trouble emerged last week when the authorities of the National Defence College, Abuja, received a letter from the office of General Yusuf recalling two Colonels currently undergoing the Senior Officers Course at the college. Before the recall of the two Colonels to face the court martial, some military officers had been arrested and detained at the Mogadishu Cantonment in Abuja on the orders of the Chief of Army Staff.
Nigerian Tribune gathered that the two Colonels were recalled for them to proceed to Kaduna to face the court martial, having been implicated in the arms sale. Nigerian Tribune gathered that the military authorities got to know about the arms deal following the declaration of war on the Joint Task Force by about 10 militant groups in the Niger Delta and the arrest of Jomo Gbomo in Angola.
An agent of the militants was said to have approached the officers of the Central Ordinance Depot with about N250 million to buys arms, oblivious of the fact that the former officer in charge had been posted out. The new officer played along for some time and then informed the army authorities.
Before he could be nabbed, however, he fled, making a furious General Yusuf to order investigations into the matter. It was during the investigations that it was discovered that over 30,000 AK-47 rifles, 5,000 GPMGâ€™s and boxes of ammunition and grenades were missing from the depot.
Army spokesman, Brigadier-General Solomon Giwa-Amu, confirmed the court martial, but said it was over some missing arms and ammunition and not in connection with arms sale to militants