By Danladi Al-Hassan
The Defence Headquarters on Tuesday said an investigation has been launched to clarify the controversies surrounding the stealing of a large amount of money by Nigerian soldiers earlier this month.
Onyema Nwachukwu, a Colonel and Chief Military Spokesperson, said at a press briefing on Tuesday, that an investigation has been launched into the matter.
“Investigation is underway to find out what happened and how it happened,” Nwachukwu said.
He explained that details of the inquiry will be made public upon conclusion, although he declined to say how long this would be.
Five soldiers on escort duty for a major-general were alleged to have gone awol after stealing the money they were asked to take to Abuja from Sokoto on July 11.
There have been speculations in the media that the amounts ranging from N400 million to a billion Naira, even though the amount has not been verified by the Military.
Hakeem Otiki, the General Officer Commanding of the Nigerian Army 8 Division in Sokoto, was believed to have assigned the soldiers to carry the money from Sokoto to an unknown destination in Abuja.
The soldiers, however, stole the money when they got to a military airstrip in Jaji, Kaduna State, at about 3:00 p.m. on July 11. Military sources said the soldiers were directed to offload the money into a waiting military jet to be flown to Abuja, but they decided to abscond with the money instead.
A manhunt has since been launched for the soldiers, but there were no immediate signs of success on the search.
Nigerians expressed rage over the development, with many seeing it as yet another indication of a steeply corrupt military.
Anti-corruption groups demanded a thorough investigation of the theft by federal lawmakers. They described the theft as embarrassing to the nation and questioned how a major-general came about such a large amount of cash.