*describes soldiers’ diversion allegation as baseless, sponsored
*says claims made by faceless troops
*media attacks meant to distract commander
*investigations show GOC not in charge of the allowance
*claims crises merchants benefiting from insecurity out to rubbish achievements of the GOC
Some respected Nigerians with primary focus on support for the military, have passed a vote of confidence in the General Officer Commanding (GOC) 1 Division of the Nigerian Army in Kaduna, Maj-Gen. Taoreed Lagbaja, describing allegations of diversion against him as baseless and sponsored.
A group Operating under the auspices of Conference of Civil Society for Security and Peace in Africa, the patriots said the allegations by the so called soldiers are not only baseless and false, but sponsored to distract the GOC, which is widely known to lead his troops from the front.
While referring to the claimants as “faceless”, the conference said the purported soldiers were sponsored by crises merchants and some interested parties, who are not comfortable with the achievements recorded by the Division, since the senior officer assumed duties as GOC.
In a statement on Wednesday, signed by North West Coordinator, Dr Hassan Mohammed, and Hajiya Nafisatu Gambo, Director, Women Mobilization, the group said, “We want to seize this opportunity to pass a vote of confidence in the person of the GOC 1 Division, Major General T. Lagbaja, whose operational competence has resulted in the reduction of violent attacks in Kaduna, and other areas in his AOR.
“In very strong terms, we deplore allegations of diversion of allowances made against the two-star General, by some faceless soldiers, whose actions suggest that they are either cowards on a mission or do not exist.
“It is our contention that the so called soldiers were sponsored by crisis merchants and interested persons who have continued to profit from insecurity within the general area and Nigeria at large.
“We believe strongly, that the ultimate goal of these enemies of state, is to distract the GOC, through the instrumentality of sponsored media attacks”.
Challenging the faceless soldiers to show courage by disclosing their identities, the concerned Nigerians said Gen. Lagbaja’s operational competence could be seen in his frontline efforts at smoking out bandits/terrorists from the hideouts.
The statement continues: “The fact that the gallant infantry officer leads his troops from the front, is an eloquent testimony of his operational competence, and total commitment to winning the war against banditry, terrorism and other tendencies that threaten national security and safety.
“Also, our investigations revealed that the GOC is not in charge of troops’ allowances, hence could not have had access to, or authorised the diversion of the said funds.
“Our message to the so called troops; if they even exist, who engaged in such cowardly behaviour is for them to repent, and desist, forthwith, from engaging in actions that tend to paint the GOC in bad light.
“We want to further warn those sponsoring this faceless individuals to rebel against this fine officer, to turn a new leaf, or we will launch all- out investigation, with a view to uncovering their crimes identities, for possible arrest,and prosecution by relevant law enforcement agencies.
“The minimum the GOC 1 Division needs, is the support and cooperation of troops in particular, and the public in general, in order to return absolute peace to Kaduna, and its environs.
“We are aware that the GOC, and other operational/field commanders are under directive to contain insecurity across the country, ahead of the much-anticipated 2023 general elections.
“Therefore, all hands must be on deck, in order to achieve a secure Nigeria, that will ultimately guarantee free, fair and credible polls”.
“ From all indications, Gen Lagbaja is doing so well in his area of responsibility. He should be commended and not discredited based on false allegations”, they said.
It would be recalled that some miscreants who masquerading as troops had accused General Lagbaja of diverting allowances meant for them on special operations within the division’s Area of Responsibility (AoR), saying the development had affected the fortunes of the soldiers, and those of their families.
Among other things, the paid agents had alleged, “The salary of our soldiers is being paid through POS, phone transfer in connection with banks by the Army finance department. Our soldiers have been crying but no one is saying anything.
“Our Soldiers continue to buy their uniforms themselves and every other kit needed to protect the people and the nation. No uniform allowance, no boot allowance, and nobody are (sic) saying anything”.
“They are using their lives as a wages (sic) between Nigerians and our adversaries. When these boys will strike, they won’t be able to enjoy all the money they are stealing and hiding for (sic) their children.
“When they will strike, running to another country will be too late for us. When they will strike, they (sic) won’t be room for amendment.
“Pay our soldiers their money in full and do it now. Army finance should not have anything to do with our soldiers’ salaries and allowances”.