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98 dismissed soldiers demand reinstatement

Ninety-eight dismissed soldiers stormed the office of the Correspondents Chapel of Nigeria Union of Journalists, Kaduna on Thursday to protest against their wrongful dismissal and demanded to be reinstated.

According to the soldiers, they want the army authorities to obey President Muhammadu Buhari’s directive that all the soldiers dismissed in 2015 for losing ammunition to the Boko Haram insurgents in Cameroon region, be reinstated.

They also alleged that the Army in a memo with reference number NA/COAS/GI/7/1 dated July 30, 2015 set up a committee to screen and assess all cases of dismissal from Operation Zaman Lafiya, but can’t understand why they have not been reinstated even after making themselves available to serve.

The aggrieved soldiers who spoke through Warrant Officer (WO) Shehu Ibrahim, told journalists that the Army Committee met in Jaji, Kaduna, scrutinised and declared them qualified to be reinstated.

He said they can’t understand why the recommendation has been ignored.

He said it was based on this clean slate that the soldiers were further moved to Kontagora on 24 September, 2015 where they underwent several weeks of retraining.

He narrated further that the General Officer Commanding (GOC), 1 Division Nigerian Army, Kaduna, Major General Adeniyi Oyebade, at a point drafted an Army Officer to investigate their matter, which he did.

Ibrahim also said: “After the re-jabbing, a list of posting was published where the names of 98 of us out of 4,000 soldiers were not included on the posting list, and we immediately brought the omission of our names to the notice of HQ NATRAC, and our names were compiled and forwarded to the Army Headquarters for inclusion in the posting.

“Hours later, the same day, 9 of the female soldiers on our same 98 men list of omission with serial number 83-91 were singled out, posted to units and given N10,000 each in our presence, whereas we the remaining 89 male soldiers were neglected in Kontagora.

“We further complained and the HQ NATRAC Commander, Brig Gen TJ Dauke told us to write down our particulars and phone numbers and go back to our villages, that we were going to be called upon, with no stipulation of specific date.

“We as soldiers deem it judicious and feel it is the Army/Defence Headquarters that is the appropriate authorities to address our situation and proffer solutions to our predicament and not any other authority.

“As such, we, after several unfruitful appeals and efforts, had to unavoidably break communication chain as we are currently not being accounted for by any unit/formation, to appeal to the Army/Defence Headquarters authority to please act urgently and come to our rescue and afford us equal opportunity and rights to the Army job as our other colleagues are already exercising.”

Ibrahim further stated: “We were not involved in any misconduct or offence, neither were we charged with any offence after our reinstatement and while in Kontagora, as our list was compiled by HQ NATRAC attests to this fact. Thus we feel punished for no offence whatsoever.

“This case has lingered long beyond reasonable time, since October 2015, without solution and making us as humans to be impatient, as no one seems to attend to us anymore.

“The right time, as it is said, for any event is always the suitable and appropriate time. Therefore we are acting promptly as this is the right time to act while the Operation Zaman Lafiya dismissed soldiers reinstatement and posting process still tarries.”

When contacted, the Army Assistant Public Relations Officer, One Division, Colonel Usman Abdul said it is only Army Headquarters, Abuja, that can speak on the issue.

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