Nigeria’s federal lawmakers in the Senate and House of Representatives have been called upon to probe the recent stealing of hundreds of millions of naira by some soldiers detailed to escort a top government official.
Reports earlier in the week said the soldiers were detailed on July 11 to escort a bullion van backed with a convoy of Toyota Hilux and a Buffalo gun truck from Sokoto to Jaji.
The soldiers, after they escorted the cash to Jaji airstrip were said to have refused to load the money into a waiting jet.
In a joint statement on Friday, Human and Environmental Development Agenda, (HEDA) and Civil Society Legislative Advocacy Centre/Transparency International, Nigeria (CISLAC) said Nigerians needed full disclosure on the scandal saying it was a national embarrassment.
The group noted that it was unfortunate that the Chief of Army Staff, Lt Gen Yusuf Buratai, had refused to speak on the embarrassing development.
The two organizations said the “stealing of the money by soldiers” who should represent a qualitative moral fabric of the country raised serious questions about Nigeria’s commitment to the fight against corruption.
“We call on the National Assembly to probe this incident. The House Committee on Defence needs to provide the necessary clue. There is no doubt that the action of these soldiers will have a serious impact on the campaign against terrorism. The Senate should get to the root of this matter before it is too late. If nothing is done, other soldiers on the frontline may be encouraged to embark of stealing of national assets,” Olanrewaju Suraju and Anwalu Rafsanjani stated.
The groups said the Senate should unravel the owner of the money to either confirm or deny speculations that the funds belonged to Major General Hakeem Otiki, the General Officer Commanding, 8th Division of the Nigerian Army in Sokoto.
HEDA and CISLAC said that security operatives should be the best examples in any country’s campaign against corruption, adding that the theft indicated that the soldiers have no iota of discipline and respect for the President Muhammadu Buhari.
The groups said, “They dared the consequences of crime probably because they knew it was a trend in the armed forces. There is a major problem if security operatives have no respect for the Commander-in-Chief of the Armed forces”.
A few days ago, the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) handed over to Voice of Nigeria a property belonging to a former military chief to the government by a court.
The groups stated further: “We call on the National Assembly to treat this issue as a top priority. Who are these soldiers? How much was the money involved? Who owns the money? Is the money owned by an individual or by the country? Is the money the proceeds of crime? There are many questions waiting to be answered.”
AfroBasket: D’Tigress to face Mali in final
Nigeria’s senior national women’s basketball team, D’Tigress, have qualified for the final of the ongoing 2019 AfroBasket Women’s championship in Dakar, Senegal.
D’Tigress, defending champions of the competition, defeated their Malian counterpart 79-58 on Friday to advance to the final as they strive to retain the trophy they won in 2017.
According to the News Agency of Nigeria, the team won the semis against Mali.
Nigeria’s Ezinne Kalu was the star player with 19 points, while Mali’s Meiya Riders had 14 points.
D’Tigress had earlier thrashed DR Congo 79-46 in the quarter-finals, demolished Cameroon 106-39 and crushed Tunisia 75-26 in the group stage.
The championship, which began on August 10 will end on Sunday.
Nigeria will now face winner of the Senegal versus Mozambique match in the final on Sunday.
Pirates abduct three Russian sailors in Cameroon
Three Russian crew members of a cargo ship have been abducted by pirates near the port of Douala in southern Cameroon, the Russian Foreign Ministry on Friday said.
The cargo ship “Marmalaita” belonging to the Danish company, Ultrabulk, carrying the flag of Antigua and Barbuda, was attacked by unknown people on Thursday.
According to the Russian Embassy in Yaoundé, Cameroonian authorities and representatives of the ship-owner company are taking steps to clarify the incident, the statement said.
Russian diplomats are actively working with Cameroonian authorities and the ship-owner to facilitate the quick release of the Russian citizens, a report by Xinhua, said.
Chinese government offers scholarship to 58 Nigerians
The Chinese Government has awarded scholarships to 58 Nigerians among whom were 16 doctorate degree students, 39 masters’ degree and three undergraduates, according to a report byPUNCH.
The beneficiaries received their university admission notices from the Counselor, Embassy of China in Nigeria, Mr Li Xuda, in Abuja on Friday.
Addressing the awardees during a pre-departure briefing, the Ambassador of China to Nigeria, Dr Zhou Pingjian, encouraged them to work hard in fulfilling their dreams and to observe and learn what brought China to where it is today.
He said, “This year marks the 70th anniversary of the founding of the People’s Republic of China.
“In these years, China has always placed education as fundamental to its pursuit of national rejuvenation.
“Every year, hundreds of Nigerian students get scholarships and chase their dreams in China; some of them are sponsored by Chinese companies.
“Last year at the Confucius Institute, University of Lagos, the body of Chinese investors announced the award of scholarships to 63 students of the university to study in Chinese institutions.”
The envoy added that 6,845 Nigerian students were studying in China with 512 covered by Chinese government scholarship.
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