THORNS IN MY BOOT 38

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39

January 2003. I was short listed amongst the candidates that applied for the direct short service commission into the Nigerian Army, having graduated with a second class upper degree in Business administration and management.

My wife had given birth to my second child whom we Christened ‘Luke’ after Oga Inside for bringing Amaka into my life, we named him Kayode after Baba Dayo because he was the Father I know, having stood faithfully by me and mama through thick and thin, we named him Chukwuemeka because everything was the Lord’s doing.

Menopause caught up with mama as she had two successive miscarriages after her third born. The Doctors had to warn her to stop trying to keep a pregnancy that would not stay, so she gave up and focused on the three with her.

I went to the Nigerian defense academy and spent another six months on training and re orientation into the Officer cadre of the Army. My performance was outstanding and I won the Chief of Army staff Sword of honour as the overall best Cadet on the P.O.P day.

I was posted to the Finance Corp headquarters in Lagos from where I was subsequently sent to the Army Pension Office Yaba. My arrival to the pension Office was greeted with resentment, the news had gone round that I was the Soldier who dismissed and jailed two serving Officers and two retired and three serving Soldiers and three retired and also demoted a Colonel in Enugu, I was given a cold shoulder in all the Offices in the department, I was treated like a leper, I was in the wrong place, everyone was avoiding me. The most painful thing was that no one mentioned the fact that I was imprisoned for over six years and denied re absorption for over five years by these men, and during all these years, these people were eating my money.

After spending six months in Lagos, I was confirmed as a full lieutenant and given the responsibility of the A.O pension office. It was at this new role that I knew that the Army was not meant for me any longer; the level of decay and corruption at the pension Office was alarming! My seat was a very hot one because it was my responsibility to send the monthly gazette of Pensioners to Finance HQ, my C.O, a Brigadier general called me to his Office and told me to simply sign and send the Gazette based on the status quo.
But on my own I took time to verify the records of all the Pensioners on the Army payroll. I had not even done that of two states when I discovered a whole lot of irregularities. First of all, thirty percent of the Pensioners from Edo and Delta states were no longer alive and their families had stopped receiving their monies, but the Pension Office still send their names to HQ for payment.

Secondly Many Soldiers that have left the Army by way of absconding or early retirement without pension are being paid pension by Army HQ.
Thirdly many Soldiers that have died in Active service either at a peace keeping mission or at home are being paid pension meanwhile their families are still waiting to hear from the Army.

My Job was to certify that all was well and instruct the Army HQ to release such funds daily! It was like sitting on a keg of Gun Powder!
No wonder many Soldiers in Finance would give their right arms to be posted to the Pension Office, I was told that many Officers that have sat on my seat are billionaires with investment all over the Country. Even a private Soldier in Pension Office goes home monthly with loot of a million naira, most of them have fleet of cars and houses in town to the envy of Soldiers in other units.
When I thought over all of these, I knew this money was blood money and I did not want it! This was exactly what was done to me that led to the incarceration of nine Soldiers.

I summoned courage and went to my C.O to explain my findings to him and the reason why I would not sign the status quo and send to HQ. What he told me baffled me. He asked if I had come to dismiss and jail him and his team too. I begged him to post me to another section or out of the department entirely but he said he does not have the authority to redeploy me to anywhere because I was an Officer like him. He said that only Finance HQ can redeploy me but warned me against going there with my findings; he said I would be shooting myself on the foot if I tried it.

Eventually I agreed to sign and send the status quo to HQ but I do not want any share of the monthly loot. My Commander refused! He said my monthly share is three million naira raw cash and I must collect it as that would guarantee that I would not sabotage them. I had no choice but to drive home with two “Ghana must go” bags containing three million naira cash at the end of my first month as a full Lieutenant.

To Be Continued

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