It was a shocking revelation on Monday at the Headquarters, 81 Division, Kofo Abayomi, Victoria when an army deserter, a Lance Corporal confessed that he ran away from the Nigerian army because of fears of fighting Boko Haram insurgents in the North East.
The 28-year-old dismissed soldier, Emmanuel Anthony, who is married with two kids, and hails from Akwa Ibom state was arrested at Volks at Ojo. He explained that he was given two weeks casual leave to visit his family a couple of years ago but refused to go back to his unit where he was serving.
It was learnt that he was later arrested by army authorities and kept in the military police guard room but later escaped from detention.
Emmanuel, during parade, adorned army uniform with rank badge of a lieutenant said, “I ran away from Maiduguri after I was given two weeks pass to travel and see my family. I was serving in 121 Task Force Battalion in Maiduguri.
“After my leave had expired, I refused to go back because I was afraid to be deployed to fight Boko Haram. I was a lance corporal but decided to wear the rank of a lieutenant to avoid being harassed.
“I deserted the army and went back to my family in Akwa Ibom and depended on them for upkeep. I bought the rank badge in NAPEX at Nigerian Airforce Base, Ikeja.
“I have been escorting vehicles from one place to another. In every trip, I’m paid N3,000. I use the lieutenant rank to drive fairly used vehicles too. For the documents, stamps and other things, I use it process army identity and recruitment form for people.
“Emeka was the one that assisted me to process the military ID card because I wasn’t having anyone on me again. I was arrested in 2016, locked up in the military police guard room but when they wanted to return me to operation ground against the terrorists, I was able to escape because I was afraid to fight Boko Haram.
However, the General Officer Commanding (GOC), 81 Division, Nigerian Army, Maj Gen Enobong Udoh, who was represented by the Chief of Staff, (COS) Brigadier General Hamisu Hassan revealed that the impostors were arrested in several parts of Lagos and Ogun states respectively while carrying out their nefarious activities dressed in different types of Nigerian military uniforms and fatigues.
Also paraded were other criminal gangs who aided and abetted the impostors by making fake military ID cards and providing them with military accoutrements used to carry out their nefarious acts.
Gen Hassan reiterated that “these criminal impostors are constantly perpetrating criminal activities such as extortion, molestation of innocent citizens, intervening in private disputes between aggrieved parties for pecuniary gains, settlement of land disputes which tend to portray the Nigeria Army in particular and the Nigerian Armed Forces in bad light as they commit such criminal and illegal activities in military uniform giving false impression of being bona-fide military personnel to their victims and other unsuspecting law – abiding citizens.
He further disclosed that “Some deserted soldiers and dismissed personnel were also arrested,” noting that the frequency of cases of impersonation have decreased since the inception of “Special Operation CHECKMATE” launched by the General Officer Commanding on his assumption of office led to the arrest of 36 impostors.
The Chief of Staff noted that in line with the Chief of Army Staff’s vision to have a professionally responsive Nigerian Army in the performance of its duties, the current leadership of 81 Division has zero tolerance for all forms of illegality including the activities of impostors which directly and unfairly impact on the good image of the Nigerian Army.
However, he frowns at despicable acts in military uniforms which elicits slanderous public reactions and opinions against the Nigerian Army for no just cause.
Gen Hassan disclosed others paraded to include “Mr. Abdullahi Mubarak, who was arrested on 2 April, 2018 in Ojo area while dressed in military camouflage uniform with military police red beret, hand band and fake military ID card were found in his possession.
“Emmanuel Anthony, the ring leader of the syndicate, a dismissed soldier but resides at No 24 Iyana Cele, Ojo. Mr. Olasunkanmi Olamide from Adeoyo in Ibadan who was also arrested on 18 March 2018 in Shagamu for impersonation.
Others are Mr. Ibeh Gabriel Emeka who resides at No 25 Isoko Street, Ojo was said to have been arrested on 3 April, 2018 at Alaba International Market. In addition, 12NA/67/5544 Private Ahmed Yahaya, a deserter from 202 Battalion Bama in 2015 was dismissed since September 2016 at Headquarters 3 Division.
Also paraded were Mr. Ale Ayokunle; Mr. Robert Danang and NAF 074360 Corporal Abubakar Suleiman a dismissed Regiment from Nigerian Air Force Base Ikeja was arrested on 4 April 2018 for assaulting a Benin Republic police officer at Assesse Junction along Lagos-Ibadan expressway.
“15NA/74/5589 Private Ibrahim Isah a deserter from 149 Battalion Ojo was arrested on 5 April 2018 in Ikorodu general area while wearing military camouflage.
“Mr. Monday Iyaji Ogar and Mr. Emeka Stephen, a computer operator who specializes in producing fake ID cards and documents was arrested in Alaba International market on 6 April, 2018.
After profiling, it was gathered, 23 of the suspects were handed over to the Police for further investigation and prosecution while the remaining 13 would also be handed over to the Police after the conclusion of preliminary investigation.
The General Officer Commanding, however, warned individuals still engaging in any form of illegal activities with military uniform to desist from it.
He called on members of the public to reports illegal cases and harassment to military units closest to them through several telephone numbers which include: 07069353889; 08060492529; 07017064979; 08065992320; 08069097624; 08065806870; 07064281177; 08053862233 and 08057705135.
Explaining that the Nigerian army authorities would do everything possible to ensure criminals who use military uniform to perpetrate acts of lawlessness and intimidation of civilians populace are not given veritable space added that the army would continue to monitor the activities of personnel to avoid commuting acts that runs contrary to the service laws.