Posted by News Express | 15 May 2014 | 6,525 times
The Nigerian Army has put in place a mechanism to investigate yesterday’s incident in which angry soldiers opened fire on the car of the General Officer Commanding the 7 Division, Maiduguri, Major-General Ahmed Mohammed, who, however, escaped unhurt.
Director of Defence Information, Major-General Chris Olukolade, said in a statement issued last night in Abuja, the Nigerian capital:
“The 7 Division of the Nigerian Army is to institute a military board of inquiry into the circumstances surrounding the conduct of soldiers who fired some shots today while the General Officer Commanding was addressing troops in Maimalari cantonment Maiduguri.
“The incident occurred when the corpses of 4 soldiers who died in an ambush while returning from patrol duties in Chibok was being conveyed to the morgue.
“There is calm in the cantonment and all normal operations activities are ongoing.”
Indications, however, are that the Defence Spokesman underplayed the seriousness of the situation. Reports from the cantonment indicate that up to 12 soldiers were killed in the ambush by Boko Haram and that the mutiny arose out of the anger of their colleagues, who blame lack of adequate fighting equipment for the deaths.
Apart from the 12 who were killed, other soldiers were also wounded in the ambush, according to sources quoted by Daily Trust.
It said that the soldiers were asked to return to Maiduguri from their duty post up north, and they were driving through the Gamboru-Ngala-Dikwa-Mafa-Maiduguri road when they were ambushed.
When the corpses were taken to the Maimalari barracks in Maiduguri early yesterday, there was tension among the rank and file, who began firing into the air as a mark of protest, the paper added, saying that when General Mohammed drove into the barracks, the tensed up situation got worse.
An officer, who does not want to be named, was quoted as saying: “The GOC was on his way to the arms store in the barracks when he was attacked by angry soldiers.”
Another anonymous officer was quoted as saying: “The 101 Battalion has severally complained that they lack kits including fragmented jacket. They repeatedly complained that they don’t have support weapons, they don’t have helmets, boots and basic things for survival like water.
“They were asked to withdraw and while coming back, they were attacked. 12 soldiers died instantly and others escaped with life-threatening injuries, which suggests someone leaked the information of their withdrawal.”
Daily Trust equally quoted credible sources as saying that hundreds of soldiers under the 7 Division are angry over their inferior fire power compared to Boko Haram, as well as over delayed allowances.
One soldier told the paper: “We are being killed like chickens everyday while many of our colleagues have lost limbs, they are permanently incapacitated.
“It is not that we don’t know how to fight but we don’t have the equipment to fight. We always run for our lives whenever the terrorists come because they have superior weapons, it is difficult to confront them.”
Another one said: “Go to the clinic in Maimalari barracks and see our victims being treated…it is sad. Many of our colleagues are at UMTH (University of Maiduguri Teaching Hospital) and other hospitals. We need equipment to fight.”
Some soldiers also complained that they have not received their allowances for over two weeks.
“As I am talking to you, we did not collect our allowances for the past 15 days and this is unfortunate.
“We left our families in far-flung places and we are being frustrated here. Quote me anywhere, many of our colleagues have dropped their uniforms and left the army because of frustration. No equipment to fight and we are always asked to go to the bush to face enemies.”
While President Goodluck Jonathan during his recent Media Chat admitted that the Nigerian military has been neglected over the years, military authorities have consistently denied that insurgents are better armed than troops and that soldiers sent to fight Boko Haram do not receive their entitlements on time.
•Photo shows Nigerian soldiers (not those involved in the mutiny).
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