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Nigeria investigating soldiers who ‘absconded with cash’

Nigeria’s military authorities say they are investigating reports that some soldiers absconded with $1.6m-worth of cash in the local currency.

It is not clear how the men who were on escort duties diverted the money, but a military source told the BBC that a huge sum is missing and that a senior officer has been placed under house arrest in the capital, Abuja.

An officer in the defence headquarters who briefed the press on Tuesday confirmed that an investigation was on going, adding that “the outcome will be made known to the public in due course”.

Colonel Onyema Nwachukwu declined to give further details in an incident with many missing parts.

The money was reported to have been diverted by five junior soldiers, who were on escort duties.

One report says the money taken was intended for “military operational funds”, while other accounts said the money belonged to a former senior officer in the army. The soldiers had reportedly escorted a truck carrying the cash from Sokoto to Kaduna in the north-west, where they seized it, discarded their army uniforms and absconded.

Nigeria’s military is engaged in operations across the country, battling an insurgency, kidnapping, cattle thieves and bandits in different regions.

A substantial part of country’s annual budget goes to the defence ministry, but soldiers at the forefront, especially those fighting militant group Boko Haram in the north-east, have often complained of a lack of equipment and non-payment of allowances.