Amidst worsening attacks by terrorists, frontline soldier caught leaving Maiduguri with 2000 stolen bullets

Last Monday, the media

I reported that a Nigerian soldier, serving in the country’s Northeast region, was caught trying to sneak out of Maiduguri with 2000 rounds of stolen ammunition.

This is happening as the world continues to remain in the dark on how the armed opposition groups best known as Boko Haram are getting the arms and ammunition they’ve been using to undermine the supremacy of federal troops.

Just like it was in the past, the insurgents had recently staged embarrassing attacks on troops’ location and meted irreparable damages on soldiers and equipment, as troops flee under the excuses that they were outgunned by Boko Haram.

There have been recent media reports blaming soldiers for the arming of terrorists whom they had in most cases ‘allowed’ to steal or take over critical war weapons.

It thus seems, however, that even though there could be external collaborators that may be financing the war chest of Boko Haram, the existence of fifth columnists within the armed forces can not be ruled out.

On Monday, a Nigerian Army personnel, identified as Sanni Mohammed, was apprehended with two boxes containing about 2,000 rounds of 7.62mm ammunition at a popular bus station in Maiduguri.

Sources familiar with the matter said the soldier, a Lance Corporal ran out of luck at the Borno Express park in Maiduguri when he attempted to board an Abuja-bound vehicle with the boxes containing 2000 rounds of live ammunition.

Officials of the National Union of Road Transport Workers (NURTW) sniffed him and his illegal luggage out as he was boarding Abuja.

The humanitarian Times learnt that the accused soldier was serving at the 198 Special Forces Battalion.

A report by PREMIUM TIMES said the soldier “had just been relieved from duties at Damasak town in Borno State, after recently obtaining a sick report.”

When arrested and handed over to the police, Lance Corporal Mohammed claimed he got the bullets from a broken-down vehicle in his unit.

He also claimed he was on a sick pass to travel, as some documents in his possession carried.  The police found a “three-day excuse duty and two reports of hospital test with him.

The police said the army denied issuing any pass or medical leave to travel for the accused soldier. 

The military is expecting the police “to hand over the soldier for a detailed investigation of the matter”.

The Borno State Police Command had confirmed the incident to journalists but declined detailed comment on the matter.

Similar Cases

PREMIUM TIMES reports that the soldier’s arrest “came about a month after the Zamfara State Government said a Nigerian soldier and his girlfriend were caught supplying ammunition and military uniforms to armed bandits in the state”.

In 2016 the Nigerian military had announced that some soldiers in the Northeast frontlines were secretly selling ammunition to “Boko Haram”. The present Chief of Defence Staff, General Lucky, made the allegation at a press conference when he was a Major General and Theater Commander of Operation Lafiya Dole.

The proliferation of illegal weapons has been identified as one of the major reasons for the widespread insecurity across Nigeria with many killed and kidnapped on daily basis.

Politicians have often been accused of being behind the proliferation of illegal firearms around the nation.

A former Head of State, Abdusalami Abubakar, said on Wednesday that there are over six million illegal weapons in circulation around the country.

In November 2016 a military general court-martial jailed a soldier 18 months in prison for being in unlawful possession of 89 rounds of 7.62mm live ammunition at the time he was arrested by a policewoman.

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