While a few crooked Nigerians are ballooning in riches made from the war against Boko Haram in the North East of Nigeria, some of the country’s finest soldiers continue to pay with their lives for that pervasive corruption.
Lieutenant- Colonel Ibrahim Sakaba, a lieutenant-colonel, was among the over 117 Nigerian soldiers killed by Boko Haram fighters when their Matele base was attacked by the terrorists on November 18.
Those gallant soldiers gave their lives for a country that does not reward true heroes, rather vallains and criminals are decorated with national honours.
Colleagues have hailed the bravery of all the soldiers who lost their lives due to supply of outdated arms and equipment and negligence of the troops by the top military brass.
However, they singled out Sakaba for extra-ordinary praise, lauding his leadership at the Nigerian Army 157 Task Force Battalion in Metele.
A week after the killing of over 100 Nigerian soldiers, there has been no formal announcement by the military, and no clear sign his families or those of other departed soldiers have been notified.
A senior military colleague, who knew Mr Sakaba, told Premium Times what a selfless commander he was.
Mr Sakaba “had sometimes ago refused to advance for an operation due to unserviceable and lack of equipment but was threatened with court martial,” the senior officer said while recalling how his fallen colleague risked his career in the preservation of the hundreds of personnel he supervised at the 157 Task Force Battalion.
It is understood that Sakaba was briefly detained during the August incident.
The Nigerian Army and Defence Headquarters did not return requests for comments on how the military handled the incident at the time, the newspaper said.
Mr Sakaba, born on December 20, 1975, was first deployed in Borno State in 2014 while a major. His service number is N/10744.
Sakaba, who graduated as an infantry officer in 2001 from the Nigerian Army 48 Regular Course at the Nigerian Defence Academy (NDA), is married and blessed with a son he will never again see grow up.
Shortly after his deployment as a staff officer at the Nigerian Army 7 Division, Maiduguri, in 2014, Mr Sakaba was reportedly involved in a skirmish with M.Y. Ibrahim, now a major-general, who was the acting general officer commanding (GOC) of the division at the time. Mr Sakaba was subsequently posted out of the Division the same year.
His appointment as the commander of 157 Task Force Battalion was his second as a lieutenant colonel, and it was reportedly characterised by his relentless complaints about poor military hardware and acute shortage of welfare supplies to his men, military sources were quoted as saying.
During the senate plenary on Thursday, Bala Na’Allah, the Senate majority leader, hailed Sakaba’s heroism, describing the fallen soldier as his cousin and the finest soldier he had ever known.
In a video uploaded on the internet over the weekend, Nigerian soldiers fighting Boko Haram in the North-East blamed obsolete equipment and corruption in the military for the massive losses in personnel and equipment in the war against Boko Haram.
Year after year, decade after decade, the Nigerian military budget has remained a bonanza to be shared by those in government and their military collaborators.