The family of Ayo Oluwaniyi, the wife of one of the soldiers, who allegedly stole N400m they were escorting, has lamented the arrest and detention of the woman and her three children by the Nigerian Army in Ondo State.
According to reports, 37-year-old Ayo and her children were arrested after her husband, Gabriel, was identified as one of the five soldiers alleged to have stolen the money they were escorting from Sokoto to Kaduna.
A family member, who spoke to Punch on condition of anonymity, said Ayo and her children were being detained at the 32 Artillery Brigade, Owena Barracks, Akure. She stated that they had been denied access to family members, adding that the family was worried about Ayo and her children’s state of health.
Five soldiers were confirmed to have stolen the money while on escort duty from Sokoto to Kaduna in the first week of July. The former General Officer Commanding, 8 Division, Nigerian Army, Sokoto, Maj. Gen. Hakeem Otiki, had reportedly asked the soldiers to escort the money and deliver it to a Very Important Person in Kaduna.
The 8 Division spokesperson, Lieutenant Audu Arigu, had confirmed the incident, saying investigation had commenced and identified the runaway soldiers as Corporal Gabriel Oluwaniyi, Corporal Mohammed Aminu and Lance Corporals Haruna, Oluji Joshua and Hayatudeen Abubakar. Army sources stated that the runaway soldiers turned in their rifles and abandoned their mobile phones at the Infantry Corps in Jaji, Kaduna State, before they escaped.
The Oluwaniyi family source stated, “Ayo’s husband is a soldier and he was deployed in Sokoto State. We learnt that that was not the first time they were escorting money on the instructions of their boss, so they decided to abscond with the money. We learnt that they dropped their uniforms, guns and phones. It was through Ayo husband’s phone that they got her number.
They probably sent the information to the division here in Ondo and that was how she was arrested. We learnt that the wife of the other four soldiers had escaped. It’s been two weeks since Ayo and her children have been in detention. They won’t allow us to see them and they did not allow them to change clothes; they just kept on telling us that she was not being maltreated. We are worried; one of her children is just about a year old.
“They said the victims were being detained because they could not find her husband and probably she was in touch with him. She said she had not seen or heard from her husband, but they said maybe he would come out if Ayo and her children were held. We cannot speak with her; it is one of the soldiers guarding her that we speak to.”