The Nigerian Army on Friday declared that some troops deployed in Operation Lafiya Dole didn’t protest their posting but only mildly complained on some issues.
The Army in a statement signed by the Director Army Public Relations, Brigadier General Mohammed Yerima also debunked reports that the troops besieged the headquarters of the Theatre Command in Borno State, shooting sporadically into the air on Thursday to protest over alleged unpaid operational allowances as well as obsoleted equipment.
On the issue of complaints by the soldiers that the government gave them obsolete weapons to fight, the statement noted that while the soldiers have a right to complain, the military authorities and the government are always working on updating their weapons.
Yerima, therefore, submitted that the earlier reports of an uprising by the soldiers were unsubstantiated and don’t represent a true picture of the incidents.
The Army’s reaction follows some reports that the affected soldiers on Thursday stormed the headquarters of Operation Lafiya Dole in angry protest over unpaid allowances, obsolete weapons, and some other inhumane working conditions, shooting sporadically into the air.
The army statement reads: “Our attention has been drawn to an unsubstantiated report going round in the mainstream media that Soldiers of an unidentified battalion in Operation Lafiya Dole have protested their posting to a location in the Theatre of Operation.”
“The reports also claimed that the aggrieved soldiers, besieged the headquarters of the Theatre Command in Borno State, shooting sporadically into the air on Thursday to protests over alleged unpaid Operational allowances as well as obsoleted equipment.”
“For the records, the Headquarters Theatre Command Operation LAFIYA DOLE wishes to state that the claims were unsubstantiated did not represent the true situation of the incidents.”
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“Preliminary investigations by Theatre Commander, Operation Lafiya Dole, Maj. Gen. Farouq Yahaya, revealed that what some media reports described as protest was a mild complaint by few soldiers of Mobile Strike Team (MST), deployed for Exercise Tura Takaibango in the frontline of Operations.”
“At about 3pm on 25 March, 2021, some of the troops of Mobile Strike Team 10 & 11 who were primed to conduct phase 2 of Exercise TURA TAKAIBANGO in Bama after the first phase of the exercise, raised some concerns which was quickly addressed before they were relaunched to the second phase of the Operations.”
“On the issue of ‘obsolete weapons’ as reported in some media, the position of Army Headquarters is that soldiers have right to demand for proper weapons to prosecute the operations. However, the Federal Government was making concerted efforts toward deploying new fighting equipment to augment the existing ones in the Theatre of Operation.”
“The Army wishes to also deny report that any soldier was owned any operational allowances. No soldier was owed any allowance in the Theatre.”
“We shall continue to remain focused and determined to perform our constitutional roles and responsibilities professionally in the protection of the sovereignty of our nation and ensuring the safety of lives and property while we clear the terrorists, their cohorts and collaborators in the country.”
This development comes a few days after reports emerged that some Nigerian soldiers, who are part of the troops fighting Boko Haram and other insurgents in the North East region have pleaded to be rotated and given a break from the war front.
The troops who lamented that they have been fighting the insurgents for five consecutive years or more, said they had hoped they would have been rotated by their commanders.
The soldiers, part of the 3 Battalion operating in the Gamboru/Ngala and Rann areas of Borno State lamented that they have overstayed and this has affected their morale negatively.
Some of them who pleaded anonymity told HumAngle that other corps have been rotated but they have no idea why they have been kept on the war front for so long.
They, therefore, appealed to the military authorities, their commanders, and the new Chief of Army Staff, Lt-Gen Ibrahim Attahiru to look into their case.