A prominent civil rights advocacy group – HUMAN RIGHTS WRITERS ASSOCIATION OF NIGERIA (HURIWA) has expressed optimism that in line with his zero tolerance to procurement corruption, the chief of army staff Lieutenant General Yusuf Tukur Buratai will quickly reorganize the finance department of the Army to ensure that no General officer commanding any of the division or indeed any officer of the military could have access to huge amount of money at any given time without effective checks and balances.
Also, the Rights group which had earlier in the year lauded the Army Chief for promptly responding to a freedom of information request on counter terrorism expenses sent in by a Lagos based non-governmental group-SERAP, has tasked the Army’s high command to hand over the General officer commanding (GOC) 8 Division Sokoto Major General Hakeem Otiki to the Economic And Financial Crimes Commission (EFFCC)to enable a thorough, independent and transparent investigation to be carried out on the reported theft of #400 million by escorts delegated by the GOC.
“As a human rights group with tremendous respect for the many lofty ideas of anti-corruption strategies introduced by the current Army Chief, we expect that the reported disappearance of such a humongous cash belonging to the country purportedly meant for the counter insurgency war, is handled independently in line with established precedence set by the current chief of Army staff who had indeed handed over several Generals to the EFCC in the past in connection with the alleged diversion of resources budgeted for the prosecution of the counter terrorism war”.
HURIWA also charged the Army Chief to use his good offices to introduce stringent measures which will further tighten the ways cash transactions are done so it would be easier to prevent this kind of scandal that reportedly occurred in Sokoto which has brought enormous opprobrium on the global image of the country.
The Rights group stressed that it believes that the current Army Chief has the zeal and capacity to ensure that these dynamic changes are effectively implemented even as it counseled the COAS not to perceive well-conceived opinion of hitherto friendly CSO’s such as HURIWA as targeted at rubbishing his acclaimed milestones. “HURIWA notes with displeasure that some amorphous groups with no traceable offices and which are not registered by the Nigerian state are in the habits of misconstruing and misinterpreting the good intentions of HURIWA embodied in our public statements suggesting how best to successfully wage the counter terror war. These profiteers who are simply empty headed sycophants think the only way to show friendship and partner with the Army is to always issue praise songs and pour encomiums no matter how bizarre and unreal on the person of the COAS even as these groups keep publishing diatribes and unsubstantiated accusations against HURIWA and the person of the National Coordinator. As quality partners we think it is the best mode of relationship to exchange our views publicly and mildly since private exchanges of letters with the office of COAS may not be always ideal for some public interest advocacy campaigns which aren’t meant to diminish the achievements of the current chief of Army staff or the institution of the Army”.
Specifically on the reported scandal of the missing millions, HURIWA stated that: “It is certainly not enough to detain the said military General in a military facility and certainly it is insufficient to rely only on internal mechanisms to unravel the circumstances surrounding the reported disappearance of such a huge amount of cash. The most logical thing to do is to also invite the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) and ICPC to provide forensic investigative skills to uncover the truth behind the extensively damaging scam and to enforce the relevant anti-economic crimes’ law where necessary even as the indicted persons must be afforded the opportunities for fair hearing in line with section 36(5) of the Constitution”.
HURIWA stated that it has just been told that the General Officer Commanding (GOC), 8 Division, Sokoto, Major General Hakeem Otiki, is reportedly placed under house arrest, Daily Sun has gathered.
The Rights group stated that from media sources, 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 just as it stated that available information states that 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).
Quoting media reports, HURIWA stated that it will be the standard practice to bring all persons implicated in this scandal to justice going by the report that the so-called VIP, allegedly being escorted by the soldiers who happens to be the younger brother of the former GOC, may have actually connived with the soldiers to steal the N400million as he is nowhere to be found.