Army says no serving soldier involved in bullion van robbery

Ebonyi bullion van robbery suspects, along with 2 dismissed soldiers
Ebonyi bullion van robbery suspects, along with 2 dismissed soldiers

The Nigerian Army said none of the two soldiers arrested in connection with the 29 July bullion van robbery in Ebonyi State was in active service.

Colonel Aliyu Yusuf, Deputy Director Army Public Relations 82 Division said the two suspects, Corporal Ayeni Samuel and Corporal Emeka Harrison were dismissed at various times.

“It is necessary to inform the public that the so called soldiers in the report are not personnel of the Nigerian Army since 2015 and 2018; when both Corporal Ayeni Samuel and Corporal Emeka Harrison were dismissed.

“Available record shows that Dismissed 03NA/53/088 Corporal Ayeni Samuel was dismissed in 2018 for desertion and pipeline vandalism at 174 Battalion..

“The dismissed soldier was attached to 174 Battalion from Command Day Secondary School Ikeja for United Nations mission in the year 2013. Dismissed Corporal Ayeni deserted the Unit and was later arrested for pipeline vandalism at Ikorodu in 2018.

“In line with Nigerian Army extant rules and regulations, Ayeni was officially tried and awarded dismissed regiment as a Corporal and not Sergeant; as claimed in the story.

“Also dismissed Corporal Emeka Harrison was tried and dismissed regiment from 7 Division Garrison Maiduguri since 2015”.

The police arrested seven suspects connected with the robbery in Abakaliki, in which four policemen were killed.

The police made a breakthrough in the case five days after, with a manhunt by police detectives attached to the Intelligence Response Team (IRT), with support from the Technical Intelligence Unit (TIU).

First to be arrested was one Alfred Robinson, a 45 year-old native of Gelegele town in Ovia North LGA of Edo state. He was arrested on Saturday in Asaba, the Delta State capital.

Upon his arrest, the police recovered a Toyota 4 Runner SUV said to have been snatched alongside others for the purpose of the attack.

Also recovered from Robinson included a GPMG rifle with 153 rounds of live ammunition, five AK 47 rifles with 1,402 rounds of live ammunition, a K2 rifle with loaded magazine, and 51 AK 47 magazines.

Six other suspects were picked up later.

Those arrested include Sergeant Ayeni Samuel, 43, who claimed to be a serving soldier attached to the Command Day Secondary School at the Nigerian Army Cantonment in Ikeja, Lagos and Corporal Emeka Harrison, 33, a dismissed soldier who until his dismissal was attached to 7 Division Garrison in Maiduguri, Borno State.

The army has now said the two had been dismissed before the robbery.

Other suspects nabbed are Sunday Soyemu, 46, from Alegnene in Ekeremor LGA of Bayelsa State; Emeka Illo, 37, from Igwachi community in Orji River LGA of Enugu State.

Also arrested were Abuchi Elijah, 27, who hails from Nsalangwa in Nsalangwa LGA of Abia State; and Ibanifiroi Ekiene, 38, an indigene of Tombia community in Degema LGA of Rivers State.