EXCLUSIVE: Cover-up In Nigerian Army Training Depot As Strange Illness Allegedly Caused By Food Poisoning Kills 14 Recruits In Two Weeks; Over 80 Others Hospitalised

At least 14 recruits have died of a strange illness allegedly caused by food poisoning at the depot of the Nigerian Army in Zaria, Kaduna State, multiple sources told SaharaReporters.


The depot is used by the army for the training of recruits.


Since its establishment in 1924, Nigerian soldiers have been trained at the facility.


SaharaReporters learnt that dozens of recruits are currently undergoing training at the depot on how to tackle Boko Haram, insurgency, banditry and other security challenges in the country.


“The rate at which the recruits are dying at the Army depot in Zaria has never been heard of before. Within two weeks, we’ve lost up to 14 recruits following the outbreak of a strange disease caused by food poisoning,” a military source told SaharaReporters.


“Right now, over 80 other recruits are hospitalized. The army chief should visit the training ground and see by himself, it’s so sad.”


Sources accuse senior officers led by the depot commander, Major General MA Abdullahi (N/10208) of making moves to cover up the incident.


“An unknown disease is killing recruits at the Nigerian Army depot training ground in Zaria. These young guys are still dying. The latest one happened this week Tuesday where four of the recruits died due to this unknown disease and hunger,” an insider at the military training facility told SaharaReporters.


“Sadly, the commander is very careless and has shown he is unconcerned by the situation. This man has also refused to release the funds meant for the depot clinic under NHIS (National Health Insurance Scheme) for the purchase of drugs right now.


“The trainees have no means to communicate with their relatives, simply because their phones were collected when they entered the depot for training. After the training, the depot commander may claim they died due to health issues from rigorous training which is a blatant lie. We are all suspecting that this came from unhygienic food.”


He continued, “They started the training at the depot on January 4, 2024. About 14 have so far died of this unknown disease. Last week, 10 of them died with eight deaths recorded in one day, also four died this week Tuesday. Many are now hospitalised at the depot medical centre while some have been moved to the Ahmadu Bello University Teaching Hospital in Zaria.”


Another source described the incident as a consequence of negligence by the army hierarchy there led by its commander, Major General Abdullahi.


“Right now, many trainees are in hospital beds at the clinic but there are no drugs to give them. Sadly, most of them have no access to their parents for them to explain what’s going on. The Chief of Army Staff should visit the depot and see what’s on the ground right now; it’s not a rumour or set-up but fact.


“The Army authorities need to address this issue as fast as possible so we won’t record more deaths. Things are currently so bad at the depot. Hunger is another major problem right now. These recruits are dying. Within two weeks, we recorded about 15 deaths, the highest number of casualties in the history of the depot NA training ground.


“Nobody is saying anything simply because almost all the recruits are from poor backgrounds. Some of those affected recruits are barracks boys and their families and loved ones are complaining seriously, lamenting within the army barracks but no one to help them.


“Seriously, something has to be done by President, Bola Ahmed Tinubu about the welfare of junior soldiers as well.”


Speaking also to SaharaReporters, a military source said, “Something is happening in the military and there seems to be a cover-up. Over 100 army recruits are currently down with illness due to food poisoning. Some have died while others may not survive it.”


When SaharaReporters reached out to the Director of Army Public Relations, Maj. Gen. Onyema Nwachukwu for his reaction and comment, he denied that there was a strange ailment at the Nigerian Army Training Depot.


Nwachukwu stated that from checks and available information, there was no such case in the training depot, adding that the army issued a media statement on Thursday about a suspected outbreak of Lassa fever in 44 Nigerian Army Reference Hospital, Kaduna, where it put out all the measures it had taken.


He said, “And then we have escalated it to other national agencies so that precautionary measures could be taken with the hope the federal government could partner with the Nigerian Army in tackling that situation there.”


He added, “But in the Nigerian Army depot where we are training our recruits, there is nothing happening there. There’s no kind of epidemic there. There’s no serial of public breakdown of recruits there. Training is going on there and there’s nothing wrong in our depot area everything is calm.”


The army spokesman, however, noted that in training institutions, some isolated cases of illness or death do occur.


“Normally in training institutions, you don’t expect that people will come in there and there won’t be one or two isolated cases of such illnesses or breakdown,” he said.



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