Anti-Boko Haram troops allege neglect, threaten to back out
Troops of the 159 Battalion, Geidam Sector 2, Yobe State, have threatened to abandon duties in protest against the treatment meted out to them by the Nigerian Army.
The soldiers, in a letter addressed to the President, Major General Muhammadu Buhari (retd.), the National Assembly, United Nations, African Union and other organisations, complained that they had been on counterinsurgency missions in the North-East since 2016.
According to their petition published by online news medium, SaharaReporters.com, the soldiers, who are from 1 Battalion of the Nigerian Army in Birnin Kebbi, Kebbi State, stated that many of them have fallen into depression as a result of the situation.
They stated that they had participated in operations in Liberia before their deployment to Yobe, adding that they were being exploited by “insensitive superiors for personal and material gains”.
According to them, their families have been made to endure deprivations in the past four years they have been fighting Boko Haram terrorists in the North-East.
The letter read, “We wish to bring to your notice that we have overstayed here in the North-East.
“We were inducted in this operation on July 10, 2016 to fight Boko Haram after spending a year in Liberia. Presently, we are covering the following locations of Dapchi, Bamari, and Kanama to Niger border.”
They added, “This is our fourth year in the battlefield fighting and we have not been changed from this operation. The other battalions we came with and even those ones that came after us have all been withdrawn. We are the oldest infantry battalion in the North-East, yet they don’t want to change us.
“We have complained to the Chief of Army Staff and he promised to rotate us. He even told our families the same thing but up till now, nothing has been done or said about it.”
The troops alleged that many of their colleagues having godfathers were redeployed after serving between six months and one year in the North East.
“But we have been forgotten because we don’t have any godfathers,” they stated.
“Since we have been here, this is the second President, the second Senate, the second Chief of Defence Staff, the second Chief of Army Staff, the fifth theatre commander, the fifth 7 Division GOC, the sixth Brigade Commander, the fourth Commanding Officer and the fifth acting CO that we have worked under and none of them have had the feeling of changing our battalion from this North-East,” the soldiers lamented.
The Theatre Commander, Operation Lafiya Dole, Major General Olusegun Adeniyi, dismissed the soldiers’ complaints, noting that the country was at war.
He called for all hands on deck to win the war against the terrorists.
He said, “It is not true that they have been here since 2016, the army regularly rotates the soldiers. But if they have evidence, they should write to the appropriate quarters.”