Nigerian soldiers fighting the insurgent Boko Haram sect in Borno state have made a startling revelation about how they are being treated.
Troops of the Nigerian Military deployed to Gubio Local Government in Borno State have accused the government and the chief of Army staff, Tukur Buratai, of abandoning them in the state.
The troops, who were recently attacked by Boko Haram, bitterly complained that the Chief of Army Staff sent them to Borno with inadequate ammunition despite the refusal of many soldiers to embark on the trip.
They said they had not been eating feeding well since their deployment to Gubio, particularly because they hadn’t been paid their allowances since May.
The attack, according to one of the survivors, began at night and the soldiers were completely overpowered.
“The Boko Haram people came with nine gun trucks and military motors. We were surprised because the trucks were painted in the same colour of the army,” the soldier, who asked not to be named for fear of losing his job, told SaharaReporters.
“They opened fire and when we could not face them because of our weapon, we all ran away. They followed us with big torchlights and killed many of us.”
Another source within the Nigerian Army revealed to SaharaReporters that the troops, who camped in a bush in Gubio, near Chad, were not given sufficient ammunition and materials to protect themselves and the territory.
“The troops were deployed to Gubio on 7th of June because of the Army Day that took place on the 6th of July,” he said
“When they were asked to go, many of the soldiers declined but they were forced to go. They were given little combative weapons and ammunition to protect themselves. Many of them were afraid that Boko Haram would attack them.”
Lamenting the ugly situations they found themselves, the soldiers disclosed to SaharaReporters that they sometimes went two days without food because they are not well-paid.
“Since we have been on this assignment, we have not been eating well. No food for us to eat and we have no money to get food. We were supposed to be paid N1,000 daily but we were never given. The last time we got money was May, after the two weeks of training we had before coming to Gubio.”
Speaking about casualties of the recent attack in Gubio, another survivor told SaharaReporters that of the about 700 soldiers, less than 150 were alive and could be accounted for.
“When we did the last headcount, we were just 150. Fifty-two bodies were recovered dead from the attack and that means about 500 are still missing.”
The soldier added that some might be dead while fleeing the attacks.
The troops further criticised the Federal Government for not sending any aid since the attack; they added that they were “living like refugees”.
“It is sad that nobody has come to see us or sent anything to us since we relocated to Gubi town,” he added. “We are living like refugees because we are staying in a secondary school opposite 5 Brigade in Borno.”
The soldiers demanded that they are immediately taken out of Borno and returned to their units.
When contacted, Brigadier General Texas Jude Chukwu, Director Army Public Relations, debunked every claim, reiterating that the Army is not an institution that would send its personnel to a war zone and forget them there.
“Why would a soldier be complaining? Complaining of what? Are they owing any soldier?” he asked “There is nothing like that, please. They are not owing anybody.”
On his part, Colonel Onyema Nwachukwu also discredited the accusation that the Nigeria Army does not provide adequate welfare for soldiers. He added that allowance for every official is #45,000.
“The operational allowance for all soldiers is a flat rate of #45,000. It is unfair for anybody to say they’ve been in this theatre and they have not been fed. If there is any complaint, there is a simple channel of communication.”
He added, “The affected soldiers should get in touch with the Brigade Commander in Gubio. If the soldier is not going to the headquarters in Gubio, then there is an issue.
He further mentioned that there are soldiers in Malam Fatori, Kangarwa, who travel down to get their allowance.
The Colonel also stated that the Theatre Commander in Gubio doesn’t take the welfare of soldiers lightly.
“The welfare of our soldiers is very paramount. The Theatre Commander goes down the ladder to ensure soldiers are properly taken care of.”
He reiterated that personnel are supplied with enough ammunition to face insurgents group in the part of the country.