The 3 Armoured Division of the Nigerian Army in Jos, Plateau State said yesterday that it had discovered a shallow grave where a missing army general, Idris Alkali, was buried by his killers.
The army confirmed that four of the suspects and a sniffer dog led the search and rescue team to the same grave independently, but the body of the deceased general was not found in it.
It was believed that his body was relocated from the grave to a location yet to be identified.
Briefing newsmen at the headquarters of the 3 Armoured Division in Jos yesterday, the General Officer Commanding, Maj-Gen Benson Akinroluyo, said “the body of the missing general was buried in a place called ‘No Man’s Land’
“The shallow grave is in ‘No Man’s Land’ identified by four different suspects at different times of arrest who took troops on search and rescue operation to the spot where the alleged corpse of the missing officer was exhumed and reburied in yet to be identified place,” Akinroluyo said.
He added: “On 29 September, 2018 when the general’s black Toyota Corolla car was recovered from the abandoned mining pit, those involved and those not involved in the killing of the senior officer held a meeting to relocate his corpse away from the community. This is because of the inherent danger it would attract to the community.
“Consequently, a 10-man team was constituted to relocate his corpse earlier buried in a shallow grave within the community elsewhere.
“A specialist in preservation of corpse was contracted. The specialist assisted in exhuming his corpse from the shallow grave to elsewhere. Only few trusted members of the community knew where his corpse was relocated to.
“The specialist is currently in our custody. Again, this is an attempt to cover up the heinous crime committed by the community.
“There exist other evidence and indicators that pointed to the fact that those who were involved in the killing of the senior officer are being supported and backed by community leaders within the Dura-Du District.
“Please note that four different sources not known to one another at various times took us to the opened shallow grave where the senior officer was earlier buried but subsequently removed.
The army denied opening several graves as alleged by the community “to blackmail us and hide their crime.”
He said: “Furthermore, sniffer dogs that have been cultured with the personal effects of the senior officer led us to the same open shallow grave. That was the only grave we were led to by different people and sniffer dogs. We did not go to any other grave as the operation was carried out based on credible intelligence.
“Like I always say, the cordon and search operation is intelligence-driven and that is why the operation has been conducted in line with international best practices and respect for human rights.
“This further explains why the Division did not clamp down on the entire community. Only the perpetrators are being targeted.”
He also maintained that the perpetrators of the act shared the belongings of the missing officer after he was whisked away.
He said: “The senior officer was assaulted and killed. Thereafter, his belongings such as clothes, cash, phones and laptop were shared by those who killed him.
“His body was dragged before being moved to somewhere else and his car was driven and pushed into the abandoned mining pit filled with water.
“The irate youths who followed his car to the abandoned mining pit filled with water on many tricycles popularly known as “Keke NAPEP” jubilated for reasons best known to them or for mission accomplished.”
The Garrison Commander who doubles as the Commander of the Search and Rescue Operation for the missing senior army officer, Brig-Gen Umar Muhammed, led a team of journalists to where the body of the missing officer was earlier buried.
He said: “The sniffer dogs were trained with the personal wears of the missing officer, and when we reached this area called No Man’s Land, they only hovered around the spot. The specialist in our custody said he helped in packaging the body here and handed it over to the community who alone knows who they entrusted it with to go rebury.
“Leaders of this community called a meeting, and during the meeting, it was agreed that since the vehicle is discovered, the body should not be discovered. So at the meeting, it was agreed that the body should be exhumed and buried elsewhere.
“A 10-man committee was set up and the committee contracted the specialist who after finishing his job, it was contracted to a few. The specialist told us everything and he is in our custody.”