The Nigerian Navy (NN) on Tuesday disowned allegations made in parliament by one of its senior officers that soldiers from neighbouring Chad were selling their weapons for $20 or $30, contributing to unrest in northern Nigeria.
The NN described the widely reported allegations, made by Commodore Jamila Abubakar Sadiq Malafa on Monday at a public hearing held by a committee of lawmakers, as “unauthorised, personal comments” and said they did not represent the NN’s position.
Nigerian and Chadian militaries have been cooperating in the fight against insurgents from the Boko Haram and Islamic State, which are active in both countries.
“The Nigerian Navy appreciates the indelible contributions of our regional partners/neighbours in the fight against small arms and light weapons trafficking,” it said in a statement issued on behalf of the chief of the naval staff.
Chad’s military welcomed this response to what it described as false allegations.
“Nobody is better placed than Chadian soldiers to know that selling arms to civilians and terrorist groups would seriously undermine regional security for which they continue to make heavy sacrifices,” military spokesperson Azem Bermendao Agouna said.
Malafa gained a high profile in Nigeria in 2017 when she became the first woman from the predominantly Muslim north to be elevated to the rank of commodore. She was widely profiled in the media at the time.
During her appearance on Monday, she alleged that Chadian soldiers kept their weapons under their beds for lack of an armoury and that, when broke, they sold them. She said Nigeria would see no peace as long as this carried on.
The navy said it wanted to dissociate itself from comments about “neighbours with which Nigeria maintains solid diplomatic security relationships/collaborations”.