Molly Kilete, Abuja
The Army yesterday said a soldier went berserk and killed an officer in Borno State.
The deceased, who until his death served at the 202 Battalion of 21 Special Armoured Brigade Bama, Borno State, was shot dead while making a telephone call in front of the unit headquarters.
Acting director army public relations, Saghir Musa, who made this known, said the soldier has been arrested while the body of the officer has been deposited at the 7 Division Medical Services and Hospital.
He also said the family of the deceased had already been contacted.
Saghir, in the statement, said: “A trooper of the Nigerian Army serving in 202 Battalion of 21 Special Armoured Brigade Bama, Borno State, went berserk at about 1030 hours on July 29, 2020 and fired at an officer (a Subaltern), which led to his death.
“The incident happened when the soldier approached the officer who was standing at the front of the unit’s headquarters, making a phone call. The soldier has been arrested; he is in custody undergoing investigation. General situation in the unit is calm.
“The remains of the deceased officer have been evacuated to 7 Division Medical Services and Hospital.
“Investigation into the case has since been instituted to determine the circumstances that led to the unfortunate incident. The family of the deceased has already been contacted. The Nigerian Army sympathezes and condoles with the family at this trying moment, and pray to the Almighty God to repose the soul of the departed and grant his family and other loved ones the fortitude to bear the irreparable loss. May his gentle soul rest in peace.”
Meanwhile, sources told TheCable that the soldier killed the officer because he did not give him a pass to visit his family.
A pass is a written permission to be away from one’s military unit for a limited period of time, and with the army’s Operation Lafiya Dole, it could be for seven, 10 or 14 days.
The soldier had requested a pass to visit his family over an urgent matter, and when he was turned down on Wednesday, he fired shots at the lieutenant who is the battalion’s adjutant responsible for administrative matters.
“The soldier joined the army in the 2016 intake and had since been deployed to fight Boko Haram in the north-east. This time, he had been in duty post for almost 12 months and he wanted that pass by all means,” a military source in Bama told TheCable.
“Normally, you apply for a pass by filling the form and then you submit to the adjutant who is the battalion administrative officer. It is the adjutant that will now make recommendations and forward to the commanding officer for approval.
“The soldier was denied the pass by the adjutant, and that was when he got angry and decided to kill him. He opened 36 rounds on the officer, killing him instantly.”
Another source said the soldier was due for a pass having spent more than the required three months, which makes him eligible.
“You can apply for a pass after three months, but the problem we have in this operation is that the superiors will be telling you that we don’t have enough manpower. So, a lot of soldiers are always denied pass,” he said.