By Kingsley Omonobi, Deputy Bureau Chief, Abuja
There were shocking revelations at the weekend that an Army Colonel, some junior officers and soldiers who were taking part in the military offensive to reclaim communities taken over by the Boko Haram terrorists in Adamawa State, have been arrested for sabotage.
Top military sources said that the colonel (a Muslim) who was Commanding a team of three Armoured Personnel Carriers, APC’s, with the capability to fire up to a range of 1.5kilometres or even more, had instead of pursuing the terrorists, deliberately set the APCs on fire between Gulak and Madagali, before running away with his team of soldiers into the bush.
Saturday Vanguard gathered that the Army authorities were outraged over the development and ordered the arrest of both the commander, the junior officers as well as the soldiers under his command.
Narrating how the ‘’embarrassing incident occurred,’’ a source who was privy to the development noted that until the latest development, the Special Forces of the Nigerian Army who commenced the putsch to rout Boko Haram terrorists from Bazza, Michika, Gulak and Madagali from Vimtim, had successfully dealt with, and inflicted heavy casualties on the terrorists up till Gulak.
It was said that between Gulak and Madagali, the Colonel who had all along been prided with air surveillance reports, was again informed that Boko Haram terrorists were approaching his team in six Toyota Hilux Pick Up vans from the Madagali axis.
“However, rather than blasting and taking out the terrorists in their pick-up vans; he ordered his soldiers to jump out of the APC’s and set the armoured tanks on fire, without realising that he was being monitored. This was shocking because the terrorists were armed with weaponry which were grossly inferior to the firepower of the Nigerian Army Amoured tanks. After accomplishing the sabotage act, the Colonel and the junior officers and soldiers ran away into the bush, claiming that they were overpowered by a better armed group of Boko Haram terrorists,’’ Saturday Vanguard was told.
Military sources said that the action of the Colonel and soldiers under his command had given vent to the disclosure by the top hierarchy of the military that there were so many fifth columnists in the military working against the country’s determination to flush out Boko Haram terrorists in the land.
Consequently, Saturday Vanguard was told that a Board of Inquiry, BoI, had been set up by the Army authorities to investigate the Colonel and his soldiers after which a Military Court Martial would be set up to try them for conspiracy, treason and willful sabotage among others.
Also speaking on the development, a senior officer confided in Saturday Vanguard thus, “You can now see why the Military Court Martial which is currently sitting is inevitable. The uninformed would feel that soldiers who are fighting the nation’s battle are being unjustly punished. But the truth is that many of them are sabotaging Nigeria and making the insurgents look formidable for reasons that cannot be explained. Some of them appear sympathetic to the insurgents.
“How can it be explained that several APCs that cost up to $1million each in some cases or more will be willfully destroyed by Commissioned Officers, COs, who swore to defend the territorial integrity of their nation, just to help terrorists? That is treason of the highest order.”
The source added that the new vigour and determination with which Nigerian troops had been prosecuting the war, resulting in the killing of several commanders of the sect as well as hundreds of the insurgents, was the fallout of the new position of the military high command to deal with those pursuing a different agenda from that of the Federal Government.
The Chief of Defence Staff, CDS, Air Chief Marshal Alex Badeh said last week that the death penalty imposed on the 12 soldiers who were tried for treason was lawful and in accordance with military dictates. He spoke at a three-day conference organised by the National Security Adviser in collaboration with Trim Communication Nigeria Ltd on Media/Security relationship in crisis management.
According to him, “The day you join the military you have signed off, whether life or death, and it is obey before complaint. How can a soldier just jump out of the APC because you want to donate APC to Boko Haram; and somebody is there talking about constructive mutiny.
“The laws are there, if you run away from the enemy, you will die and that is what the military law says. Apart from the old Nigerian law, we abide by the military law. Nobody forces or conscripts anybody into the military. It is a voluntary service, and so if we have this type of challenge, you should be able to confront it and not to run away.”