Concerns mount over fate of $1bn arms purchase fund
At least 12 Nigerian soldiers were killed and dozens of others are missing after fighting with Islamists in Borno State, three military sources said yesterday.
This is coming as the $1billion earmarked for the purchase of arms and ammunition to aid the military in the fight against terrorism in the North-east region is now mired in confusion.
But the army said it repelled the attack in which it said one soldier was killed and another injured. The fighting followed an attack on Friday by insurgents in Gudumbali Local Government Area – a part of Borno where Boko Haram breakaway group Islamic State in West Africa (ISWA) is influential.
Reuters quoted sources as saying the poor communication network in the remote area delayed details of the attack being relayed.
The attack, the sources said, was carried out on a military base and a nearby community in the Gudumbali Local Government Area of the state.
The three military sources, all of whom are soldiers who did not want to be named, said at least 12 soldiers were killed and dozens missing after the fighting.
But the army, in an emailed statement, said the insurgents opened fire on troops while aid materials were being distributed in Gudumbali.
“The troops, however, fought gallantly and outmanoeuvred the attackers inflicting heavy casualties on them. Unfortunately, a soldier paid the supreme price during the encounter, while another was wounded in action,” said the army in the statement.
The biggest loss of military life in the last few months occurred in late November when around 100 soldiers were killed by ISWA militants who attacked an army base in Metele, Borno State.
However, sources said 28 militants were killed, while the army reported that it lost less than 40 soldiers.
The North-east is home to two Islamist insurgencies: Boko Haram and ISWA which broke away in 2016 and is now considered by security experts to be the stronger of the two.
The federal government in June ordered thousands of people who fled the conflict with Boko Haram to return to Gudumbali, one of the most dangerous areas of northeast Nigeria. Officials cut off food and other aid to those who refused.
Meanwhile, the $1billion earmarked for the purchase of arms and ammunition to aid the military in the fight against terrorism in the North-east region is now mired in confusion.
This is coming as a group, Society for Good Governance (SGG), accused the federal government and state governors of playing politics with such an important national intervention, the absence of which has led to death of many soldiers in the North-east region.
It said if government could not account for the $1 billion security fund for Boko Haram, “then our position is that it has been diverted for the purposes of 2019 elections, and we will be left with no other option than to seek legal redress.”
The mystery is located in the fact that several government agencies and institutions have all denied accessing the fund.
The denial is coming as hundreds of soldiers have died owing to lack of equipment and inadequate salaries and allowances for those fighting in the war front as claimed by some soldiers who survived the Metele attack.
In the heat of the Metele attack by insurgents in Borno State, the Chief of Army Staff, Lt. General Yusuf Buratai, informed a bewildered country that the Nigerian Army was yet to receive any fund or equipment purchased from the fund.