About two months, precisely 58 days after his abduction, the Nigerian Army, yesterday found the body of the missing Major-General Idris Alkali (retd), in an abandoned well at Guchwet village of Shen Distrct, Jos South Local Government Area of Plateau state.
General Alkali went missing while travelling from Abuja to Bauchi state, shortly after his retirement.
The late army chief, declared missing on September 3, was the immediate past chief of administration at the Army Headquarters.
However, the Army swung into action on September 22 after General Alkali’s whereabouts could not be ascertained by the army authorities and his family.
Announcing the breakthrough yesterday in Jos, Garrison Commander 3 Armoured Division, Cantonment, Rukuba near Jos, Brigadier-General Umar Mohammed, said the body was discovered in an abandoned well.
Mohammed, who led the search and rescue operation team, said one of the suspects on the police wanted list, led the team to the location.
“The location for the abandoned well was provided by one of the eight suspects on the police wanted list who submitted himself for interrogation,” he said.
“You are all aware Major-General Idris Alkali was declared missing on September 3. Nigerian Army gave us three tasks. One is to find General Alkali dead or alive. Two, is to find his car which is a Toyota Corolla, and three if anything happened to him, to find who were responsible for it.
“On September 29, 2018, we were able to discover his vehicle and we saw his personal effects which confirmed that it was him. In the same vein, last week, I called you and showed you where he was buried in a shallow grave.
“We have declared some people wanted, and based on that, some of them reported to the police. Some of them, who took part in his relocation, took us where he was relocated.
“He was actually relocated to an abandoned well which is behind me here. We came here this morning, we drained the water and we were able to salvage the body of General Alkali.
“This is to tell you that now the two aspects of the assignment are completed. The remaining aspect is for all those who took part in this heinous act, nobody, no matter how highly connected the person is, must not go unpublished. For those who have not submitted themselves to the police, we are on their trail. We will find them sooner or later.
“So, based on that, I want to tell you that we have recovered the body of late General I. M. Alkali. The remains is here and I will show you. Thank you very much,” General Mohammed said.
Brigadier-General Mohammed further said, six of the wanted suspects are presently in police custody and urged others to make themselves before the as the army was on their trail.
He said the operation was conducted by the Nigerian Army in collaboration with the Nigerian Police and the Fire Service
How the search went
Following some intelligence gathering which led to the discovery of his car (with his personal effects therein) in Dura Du community after the Army drained the pond, the NA came to the conclusion that the army chief may have been killed by his abductors.
And barely one day after the shocking discovery of the car, the army cordoned off the Dura Du community, and swiftly arrested some 30 suspects in connection with the alleged murder of the top military chief.
And while the military operations in the community lasted, residents of the area, mostly comprising women, strongly resisted the draining of the pond, claiming that it was their major source of drinking water and ancestral water.
In the cause of further investigation, the Army scooped on information that Alkali’s remains were deposited elsewhere, even when his car was driven and pushed into an abandoned mining pit filled with water.
And curiously, the search team stumbled on a grave where the corpse of the general was buried in the Dura Du community, but had been excavated and moved elsewhere by a native, believed to be a specialist in the act.
This discovery was made on October 26, some 34 days after the search operation started.
Making the disclosure, General Officer Commanding (GOC), 3 Division, Nigerian Army, Jos, Major-General Benson Akinroluyo, said the body was allegedly buried it in a shallow grave in “no man’s land’’ somewhere in the community.
He said: “When the General’s black Toyota Corolla car was recovered from the abandoned mining pit, intelligence gathering revealed that a meeting was held in the community to relocate his corpse.
“This is because of the fear of the calamity that may befall the community when the discovery is done; so, they constituted a 10-man team to execute this function.
“The corpse, before it was exhumed, was buried in a shallow grave at a site called `no man’s land` within the community and a specialist in preservation of corpse was contracted to assist in the function.
“The specialist engaged, who is currently in our custody, revealed this information to us and only a few trusted members of the community are aware of the new location, “he said.
“The different sources not known to each other and at separate times, took us to the opened shallow grave where the senior officer was previously buried but removed.
“Furthermore, sniffer dogs, which have been cultured with the personal effects of the senior officer, led us to the same opened shallow grave. The operation was carried out based on credible intelligence,” Akinroluyu had revealed.
The team leader also told journalists that a parade will be held in honour of the retired officer, ahead of a befitting burial for his status in recognition of his service to the fatherland.