Fidelis Soriwei and TONY OKAFOR
The Nigerian Army has denied media reports that the Chief of Army Staff, Lt. Gen. Tukur Buratai, and his two wives acquired a property in Dubai and paid for it in a single transaction.
The Acting Director, Army Public Relations, Col. Sani Usman, said in a statement on Saturday that while it was true that the Buratai family had two properties in Dubai, they were bought with personal savings in 2013.
Usman said the army chief had consistently declared the properties along others in his assets declaration form as Commander, Multinational Joint Task Force and the Chief of Army Staff.
He described the report as a smear campaign which was designed to malign the image of the chief of army staff.
He said that similar moves to smear the image of the COAS in March 2016 could not fly because the allegation by the ‘Concerned Soldiers and Officers from the North-East ‘ were untrue.
He said, “Concerned Soldiers and Officers from the North-East” who raised the allegation in a petition obtained by an online news agency was obviously nonexistent.
Usman also described as untrue the claim that the huge lodgements were made into an account owned by the COAS at Skye Bank as Buratai had no account with the bank and had not been involved in any shady transaction and contract scam.
He said, ‘It is a fact that the Buratai family has two properties in Dubai that were paid for on instalment basis through personal savings three years ago.
“This, along with other personal assets, has consistently been declared by General Buratai in his Assets Declaration Form as Commander Multinational Joint Task Force Commander and as Chief of Army Staff.
“In addition, General Buratai was never near either the Defence Headquarters or Army Headquarters in 2013. It is pertinent to also note that he was never a director of procurement in the Army Headquarters as alleged. As a matter of fact, the Nigerian Army never had a Directorate of Procurement till when he established one last year when he became Chief of Army Staff.”
Meanwhile, the 34 Artillery Brigade Obinze, Owerri, in Imo State, has dismissed an allegation that soldiers of the Brigade posted to Etekwuru Junction, Egbema in Ohaji/Egbema Local Council Area of the state killed a 26-year-old man, Declan Obi.
The army, in a statement issued by its Assistant Director of Public Relations, Lt. Haruna Tagwai, stated that preliminary investigation on the said incident revealed that such an incident never occurred.
The statement noted that the Brigade had since 11am on Thursday, upon receipt of the allegation, quickly dispatched some senior officers to the Ohaji/Egbema area to investigate the claim that its soldiers killed the young man and to prevent any possible raised breakdown of law and order.
According to the army, soldiers posted to the area were recalled to barracks for questioning over the alleged killing.
Tagwai, however, appealed to the people of the state to remain calm, while assuring them that any soldier found culpable would be made to face the wrath of the law.
He said, “The brigade and indeed the Nigerian Army, which is known for its high discipline will do everything to safeguard its hard earned reputation and continue to discharge its constitutional duty in line with laid down rules and procedures while respecting fundamental human rights of citizens.”
Earlier, the Brigade Commander, Brigadier-General Kay Isiyaku, stated that it was possible for some dubious people to put on military uniforms to deceive members of the public in order to achieve their inordinate ambition.
Obi was allegedly beaten to death on Monday by some soldiers attached to Etekwuru Junction over a missing N350,000 as reported to the soldiers by his master, Mr. Evans Njemanze.