Nigerian Army, UN Disagree
·Grants At The Centre Of Feud By Sani Mohammad
The last may not have been heard of the unfortunate incident that claimed the lives of 46 Nigerian Soldiers returning from peace-keeping operations in Darfur-Sudan.
The Federal Government, a source told FRESH FACTS, has since commenced investigation into the circumstances that led to the accident that claimed the lives of the soldiers.
Informed sources hinted that, the Yar’Adua administration was jolted to commence the investigations following a complaint lodged by the United Nations which insisted that it had made adequate provision and paid for comfortable transportation of troops returning to their units in their respective countries.
It could be recalled that the Chief of Army Staff, Lt. Gen. Luka Yusuf had earlier accused the UN of not adequately providing the funds needed to transport such returning soldiers back to their respective formations. But in a swift reaction to that allegation, the United Nations sent details of the payments made to all the troops in Darfur for the peace-keeping mission including Nigeria which received almost more than what other countries received. It could be recalled that the Chief of Army Staff, Lt. Gen. Luka Yusuf had earlier accused the UN of not adequately providing the funds needed to transport such returning soldiers back to their respective formations. But in a swift reaction to that allegation, the United Nations sent details of the payments made to all the troops in Darfur for the peace-keeping mission including Nigeria which received almost more than what other countries received. Sources told FRESH FACTS that, the authorities of Nigerian Army had been paid by the United Nations to transport the returning troops from the Abuja Airport to their base at Mongonu, Borno State in air-conditioned luxury buses, but the soldiers were being transported in rickety army trucks when the accident occurred.
The aim of the Federal Government’s probe is to unravel the mystery behind the violation of the UN provisions to comfortably transport the troops back home, and also establish what happened to the huge funds disbursed to the Nigerian Army by the UN. Already, a source disclosed, fears and apprehension have gripped the top brass at the Army Headquarters in Abuja because the investigation as they had reasoned, may unearth more damaging financial infractions inflicted on Nigerian troops by their superior officers, especially as regards the payment of requisite duty-tour allowances and other entitlements due to the troops. Prior to the coming of the Yar’Adua administration and the appointment of Mahmud Yayale Ahmed as Nigeria’s Defence Minister, troops on peace-keeping operations had consistently had their entitlements either arbitrarily reduced or outrightly denied by senior officers at the Army Headquarters.
For example, soldiers on peace-keeping operations during that period, were paid only $400 instead of the $1,200 as provided for by the United Nations Peace-Keeping Headquarters.
Similarly, in the past, many soldiers who traveled for various peace-keeping operations were made to return to Nigeria without their entitlements paid and such payments were made quarterly in peace-meal, many months after the troops have returned to base in Nigeria.
However, after the discovery of this gross-injustice by the Yar’Adua, administration the Army Headquarters was ordered to rectify the anomaly, as such Nigerian soldiers on peace missions are paid their monthly $1,200 while the troops are at their respective frontlines.
It was based on this submission from the UN that President Yar’Adua set up the investigative panel to establish the true position of things.
However, when FRESH FACTS contacted the Army Public Relations Officer, Brigadier-General Emeka Onwuamaegbu he reacted to