Anti-b’haram troops al­lege ne­glect, threaten to back out

The Punch - - FRONT PAGE - Ade­lani Ade­pegba, Abuja

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 North­east, 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 North­east,” 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.”

Photo: Edo State Gov­ern­ment House

•L-R: Chief of Staff to the Edo State Gov­er­nor, Chief Taiwo Ak­erele; Edo State Gov­er­nor, Mr God­win Obaseki; Chair­man, Board of Di­rec­tors, PRESCO Plc, Mr Pierre Van­de­beeck; Deputy Gov­er­nor, Edo State, Mr Philip Shaibu; Man­ag­ing Di­rec­tor, Presco Plc, Mr Felix Nwabuko; and Sec­re­tary to the State Gov­ern­ment, Edo State, Osar­o­dion Ogie, dur­ing the visit of Van­de­beeck to the gov­er­nor at the Gov­ern­ment House in Benin City, Edo State... on Tues­day.

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