Army to investigate twitter claims on soldiers extorting motorists in Borno state
- That claim is not true - NURTW
The Chief of Army Staff, Lieutenant General Tukur Buratai, said an investigative panel would soon be set up to investigate alleged claims by a Twitter handle accusing soldiers forcefully collecting money from commercial motorists before providing escort services.
This was made known in a statement signed by the Director Army Public Relatinos, Sani Usman, and made available to journalists via a social media handle.
After the opening most of the major roads that were once under the control of Boko Haram insurgents in December last year, the Nigeria military has been engaged in providing free escort services to both commercial and non-commercial vehicles traveling along most routes of Borno state.
Though the escort service had been serverally criticised as very poor especially when civilian travellers are sometimes attacked, killed or abducted by Boko Haram gunmen, the military seriously take exception to the case of extortion by its soldiers.
Usman, a Brigadier General, said the Chief of Army Staff took the allegation that went viral on twitter, especially as the author claimed that drivers of reticulated trucks conveying goods to border towns of Nigeria, would have to part with at least N300, 000 before each before they are given a military escort through the usually unsafe route from Maiduguri to the borders Chad.
The said twit was a pictorial twitter post by one @Dan-Borno with a caption saying that “long trucks assembling along Ngamboru Ngala Road waiting for @HQNigerianArmy to escort them. Each truck owner will pay N300,000.00 to the soldiers escorting them and there are estimated 200 - 300 trucks per trip”.
Though many twitting Nigerians had condemned such alleged action of the Nigerian soldiers, some other comments that trailed the post equally questioned the veracity of the claim.
Officials of the road transport operative Borno state told Kareem's Pick Blog that they were not aware of such allegation.
“I am the chairman of the NURTW here in Borno state and if there is something like that happening, I should be the one to know before any other person does”, said Alhaji Bello.
“As far as I am concerned that allegation is not true. The soldiers may have their excesses or shortcomings; but it would be unfair on our part to make such claims that are unfounded.
“The Maiduguri-Gamboru is one of the routes that are not that very safe. And each time our drivers are to ply the route we get escort from the military, who would only advise us to embark on such trip if the routes are safe. And if the routes are not very safe they would equally advise us to tarry a little until they clear whatever challenges on the way”.
|Brigadier General SK Usman, DAPR|
The unionists however admit that there are fees that are collected from the truck drivers and owners of the goods they conveyed before each truck is allowed to embark on the cross border trip.
“The claims that each truck must pay about N300, 000 before moving out of Maiduguri is very true”, said the Secretary of the NURTW, Ahmadu Musa.
“As a matter of fact each truck pays more than N400, 000 and the money has nothing to do with the soldiers of the Nigeria army providing escort services. The fees had to do with Customs excise duties which every truck must pay to the Nigeria Customs Service before being allowed to leave Maiduguri. And we the Union officials too would also collect our dues per each truck before they leave. So when you put all these monies together, it is even over N400, 000.
“Unfortunately some people who lack deep knowledge about how international transport of commodities work, would sit down and be making spurious allegations. The soldiers only come in when we are ready with all our papers and have gathered enough truck for the escort movement. They escort us from Maiduguri to Dikwa and from there we find out way to the borders”.
“If the army hierarch wants to investigate it; that is very fine. We are ready at any time to given them all the details they need. And if they find nothing let them go and get more explanation from whomever you said post such thing on the social media” said Musa.
According to General Usman, the Chief of Army staff would not let the matter rest until it is properly investigated.
“The Nigerian Army has noted with great concern about an allegation of complacency and extortion against soldiers by someone with twitter handle called “Danborno” on Social Media, in which he alleged long queues of trucks along Maiduguri-Gamboru Ngala road, Borno State
“He also alleged that each truck owner pays the sum of N300,000.00k to soldiers for escorting them. Consequent upon this, the Chief of Army Staff, Lieutenant General TY Buratai has ordered for immediate investigation over these allegations.
“The Nigerian Army as a professional military institution thrives on discipline, selflessness and dedication to duty and operates within the confines of the laws, Code of Conduct and Rules of Engagement. It would not tolerate any act of misdemeanour by any of its personnel. Similarly, we encourage members of the public to take advantage of our toll free telephone number 193 to report any observed lapses or allegation against any officer or soldier.
“We would like to also call on the members of the public especially affected individuals in Borno State to cooperate and volunteer information to the investigation team”.