Nigerian troops stationed at Gamboru Ngala in Borno State last week Sunday fired shots in the air and threatened their commanding officer over a N6 million gift from a politician.
The cash gift was said to have been given to the Commanding Officer, Yusuf Micah, a Major, for the troops who served in the area by the chairman of the Gamboru Ngala local government, Abdulrahman Abdulkareem, to show appreciation for their work.
But both Major Micah and the council chairman denied that there was ever any monetary transaction between them.
Micah who spoke to our reporter on the phone denied collecting money from the council boss for the troops or being shot at by his men. Abdulkareem too denied giving any money to the military commander or any other military officer.
But a very reliable military source, confirmed the shooting incident and said that trouble started when soldiers, made up of a combined team of men from Army Headquarters Strike Group and Special Force Battalion at Gamboru Ngala, learnt that Abdulkareem gave N6 .million to their commander as a parting gift but sensed that the officer was not ready to share it with them.
“The soldiers got to know about the money from the local government chairman’s team. The CO did not even tell them about it and when they asked, he was not forthcoming and they knew if they left Gamboru without getting paid, they would not get the money,” the source, who does not want to be mentioned for fear of being victimised by the army, said.
Micah, who is commander of the AHQ Strike Force and the officer in charge of troops in Gamboru Ngala, had gone to have a talk with his men who were getting ready for redeployment after a five month posting.
However, it was gathered that some of the soldiers got angry and shot in the air and threatened the Commander when he denied being given any money by the council chairmen for the troops.
Our source said that Micah, who had planned to spend the night with the troops, hurriedly left Gamboru Ngala for Maiduguri before the sun went down.
The icirnigeria.org learnt that those who spearheaded the incident were men of the fiery Special Force Battalion, nicknamed ‘Belarus’ due to their training in the Eastern European country and the fear they strike among Boko Haram members.
The N6 million gift allegedly pocketed by the Commanding Officer appeared to have been the last straw as he is accused of being in the habit of using his men to make money without ‘settling’ them.
He is said to have offered some of the soldiers under him as security escorts to politicians and other influential citizens but never gave the men anything even though he was handsomely rewarded for the service rendered.
“He has commercialised providing escort but when the money comes we don’t see it. Imagine the N200, 000 he makes per trailer for providing escort for food from Maiduguri to Gamboru Ngala every month. When he collects this money, we don’t get a dime,” one of the soldiers in the unit, who cannot be named, said.
This website gathered that the troops had since been redeployed to another location and replaced by soldiers from 22 Armoured Brigade.
When our reporter spoke to him on the phone last week, however, Micah denied being shot at or threatened by his men although he confirmed going to Gomboru Ngala on the said day.
He also said denied collecting N6 million on behalf of the troops and reasoned that chairman was not in a position to give that kind of cash gift as he had not even been able to do much for his own people.
“Where would the chairman who has not done much for his people get N6 million to give to soldiers from? What is he giving the money for?” Micah queried.
“These are people who don’t do much for their people. Go to Gamboru Ngala and see what the people are going through. These leaders deserve to be in jail,” he said.
Abdulkareem also denied giving any money to the army commander. “No, I never give any officer money. And particularly Major Micah,” the chairman stated in a text message sent in response to questions sent to him on the allegation.
The AHQ Strike Group and Special Force Battalion are two of the fiercest military units trained during the administration of former President Goodluck Jonathan and is responsible for most of the successes recorded against Boko Haram in Borno State. While men of the SF Battalion were trained in Belarus, the AHQ Strike Group troops were trained in Nigeria by British soldiers and, later, South African mercenaries.
However, the soldiers, particularly men of the strike group, who have not been paid since November 2015, are being owed operation allowance for months, so they have to find a way of getting money.
Thus, they rely on money that comes from politicians and other dignitaries, who need military escorts to some parts of the state, and that is why they are angry that when such money comes, it does not get to them as the officers pocket it.
Army spokesperson, Sani Usman, a Colonel, was very angry when our reporter called him for his reaction to our findings. He accused the reporter of doing a hatchet job and demanded to know the source of his information because there is no mobile phone network in Gamboru Ngala, which is not true.
“I don’t know who you are working for and I don’t care. I have been following your reports and they are all negative. You are always focused on the negative story about the army and neglect the positive stories. You can take my name anywhere, I don’t care and you should watch yourself,” he said.