Officers of the 7th Division of the Nigerian Army today presented a lieutenant colonel without a name tag to the media, claiming that the officer was the one named by SaharaReporters in a devastating petition that revealed why Nigerian troops had been unable to win the war against Boko Haram.
Speaking to the press, Colonel Sani Usman, the spokesperson for the 7th Division, stated that “Lieutenant Colonel” Wende had denied authorship of the petition, which accused top military commanders of siphoning off budgets meant for the war against terrorism.
SaharaReporters had reported that the colonel and his family had come under intense pressure to renounce the petition he sent to President Goodluck Jonathan and copied to the President of the Nigerian Senate, David Mark.
Since our publication of the petition, Nigerian military authorities have scrambled to discredit the leak by claiming that Colonel Wende had not written the letter. Military brass also went as far as claiming that the petition was written by Boko Haram militants and their supporters.
However, the attempt to blame Boko Haram for the petition was not persuasive as the document outlined strategies for defeating the insurgent Islamist group.
But when Lieutenant Colonel A. “Wende” was presented to the media today in Maiduguri, his uniform bore no nametag. This was a curious occurrence, especially as given that Colonel Sani K. Usman’s name was conspicuously displayed on his uniform.
The 7th Division spokesperson admitted that a petition existed, but said he wanted the public to “exonerate” Lieutenant Colonel Wende as its author.
Colonel Usman, however, did not dispute any of the issues raised in the petition, but claimed that that the leaked petition was the handiwork of distractors.
Below is the statement from today’s press briefing by the military:
PRESS BRIEFING ON ALLEGED PETITION WRITTEN TO THE PRESIDENT BY LIEUTENANT COLONEL A WENDE COMMANDING OFFICER 103 BATTALION BY COLONEL SANI USMAN DEPUTY DIRECTOR ARMY PUBLIC RELATIONS 7 DIVISION NIGERIAN ARMY ON THURSDAY 25TH DECEMBER 2014
1. Good morning ladies and gentlemen. You are all welcome to Headquarters, 7 Division Nigerian Army. As you are aware, sometime ago, the online media was saturated with an alleged letter of complaint dated 13th November 2014, purportedly written and signed by Lieutenant Colonel A. Wende, the Commanding Officer of 103 Battalion Nigerian Army to the President, Commander-in-Chief of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, copying other government functionaries and agencies. The petition was carefully studied and investigated by the Nigerian Army and as part of this process; forensic analysis by relevant security agencies was carried out. It was discovered that the allegations were spurious and baseless as the commanding officer; Lt Col Wende had nothing to do with the petition. He has therefore been exonerated.
2. We wish to categorically state that the petition is the handwork of some mischief-makers aimed at distracting 7 Division and indeed the Nigerian Army from its determined efforts at fighting insurgency and terrorism in this nation to a logical and successful conclusion. You will recall that the officer’s unit currently plays a very significant role in the fight against Boko Haram terrorists in Nigeria. Under his command the unit along with others has been able to deny the terrorists freedom of action within their area of operations. It is out of sheer mischief therefore that someone is trying to ensure that the name of this gallant officer is smeared for inconceivable reasons. I would like to inform you that Lieutenant Colonel Wende is here with me to buttress this fact.
3. The method of putting words in the mouth of fictitious characters with the view to tarnishing the image and reputation of the Armed Forces of Nigeria and its leadership is becoming a vogue. Fictitious interviews had previously been broadcasted and published allegedly emanating from soldiers of the Nigerian Army engaged in operations. We have maintained that the military personnel who have complaints do not use this dubious approach.
The testimony of this officer today, as well as investigation into the recent claims has further confirmed that some mischievous propagandists apparently working for the terrorists are responsible for all the spurious interviews, petitions and publications aimed at propagating falsehood against the Nigerian military and its leadership. The public is please requested to be wary of such allegations.
4. Thank you.