The Nigerian Army says the soldiers allegedly arrested over a bullion van robbery in Abakaliki, Ebonyi state, are not military personnel.
Seven suspects were arrested by operatives of the inspector-general of police intelligence response team (IRT) in connection with the robbery attack.
The attack, which led to the death of four policemen escorting the van which was transporting money from Enugu to Abakaliki, occurred last Wednesday.
A soldier attached to Command Day Secondary School, Nigeria Army Cantonment, Ikeja, Lagos, and a dismissed soldier who was attached to 7 Division Garrison Maiduguri, Borno state, were identified among the suspects.
But in a statement, Aliyu Yusuf, deputy director, army public relations in 82 division of the Nigerian army, said the two alleged soldiers are not serving in any of Nigerian Army’s units, commands, formations or divisions.
He said the two soldiers, Emeka Harrison and Ayeni Samuel, had been dismissed from the force since 2015 and 2018 respectively.
“The attention of Headquarters 82 Division Nigerian Army has been drawn to on-line publication on the unfortunate Bullion Van Robbery incident at Abakaliki, Ebonyi State on July 29 which led to the arrest of two suspected dismissed soldiers and other gangsters involved in the act,” Yusuf said.
“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 Lagos State 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 online story.
“Also, dismissed Corporal Emeka Harrison was tried and dismissed regiment from 7 Division Garrison, Maiduguri since 2015.”