By Evelyn Usman
A dismissed Corporal from the Nigerian Army, Mr Afolabi Hassan, who was arrested for parading himself as a Lieutenant Colonel, in Abule-Egba area of Lagos, said he bought the uniform to escort trucks from Mile 2 to Tin-Can port.
Speaking with journalists during the parade of 13 persons arrested by operatives of Operation Checkmate of 81 Division of the Nigerian Army in Lagos, yesterday, Afolabi, who was arrested in complete Army woodland camouflage uniform, said: “I was dismissed in 2016 as a corporal because I went on Awol (Absence Without Leave).
“I bought this uniform from someone at Abacha market in Abuja. I do not use it to steal, I use it to escort trucks from Mile 2 to Tin-Can port. I escort one truck for N80,000, use N50,000 to settle task force officials and take the rest home to feed my family.
“I used the Military Police, MP badges because I was used to them (MP) when I was serving. On the day I was arrested, a soldier called me that his boss wanted to buy a parcel of land because I am in charge of my family’s land. By the time I got there, I was arrested.”.
Another suspect paraded, a civilian, who has been parading himself as an Army Captain, Allen Afolabi Allen, said he was simply a private security operator and had never been a military personnel.
Asked how he got the uniform and captain badge, he replied: “ I am the Managing Director, System Projection Security. I was arrested because of the portrait they found in my house.
“I am not a military man, it was edited. I don’t even know who the person is. They only cropped my head and replaced it with that of the officer’s.
“I did it because of the harassment from Omonile (land grabbers). I was told they were only afraid of the military and when I did, they stopped harassing me, especially when I was building”.
General Officer Commanding 81 Division, Major General Johnson Irefin, while parading the impersonators, yesterday, said he was arrested at his residence at Olugba community, along Ilogbo road, Ogun State.
During a search conducted at Allen’s house, an enlarged picture of him in Nigerian Army’s woodland camouflage with Captain’s rank badge was discovered.
Another throw pillow which had a picture of him in full Army regalia and mufti was found in his apartment. The throw pillow was a souvenir of his 52nd birthday, held on April 15, 2020.
However, on closer observation, the picture of him in Army woodland camouflage was discovered to be that of late Army Captain Oni, who died five years ago in the North East. Through Photoshop, the late captain’s head was cropped out and replaced with his.
Two signposts reading ‘Military Zone keep off’ and handcuffs were also found in his apartment.
Other items recovered according to the GOC, included: one white MP anklet, two pairs of brown anklets, five Military Police lanyards and three pairs of black work shoes.
The GOC said, “Furthermore, a pair of combat boots, six Lt Col ranks, two Major rank badges, three MP berets, one MP muffler, forged 81 Div. Prov Gp letterhead paper and an enlarged photograph of the suspect in full number four dress were also discovered.
“They used fake Provost Letterhead papers to apply for Visa, unfortunately, that was not the right channel to apply for visa”.
Some of the suspects claimed to have collected the crested Army vest from serving Military personnel, while others said they bought them. But Okere, who claimed to have voluntarily discharged from the Military, said he wore the uniform to ensure easy passage while conveying bags of rice to his customers in different parts of the state. Unfortunately, he was arrested while conveying 20 bags of rice to some customers from Alaba area of Lagos.
For 19-year-old Daramola Olamide, who was also arrested in complete woodland camouflage, he claimed he was dismissed during vetting. Olamide, who was found in possession of a genuine Nigerian Army identity card with number 09NA.63/3595 belonging to one Lance Corporal Sa’adu Aminu, simply kept mum when approached.
He was, however, discovered to have lived with the owner of the identity card at the Signal Barracks, Mile 2.
The suspects according to the GOC would be handed over to the Police for prosecution.