Junior officers of the Nigerian Army have threatened to expose senior military officers who collaborate with the Boko Haram insurgents in protest of the death sentence passed on their colleagues by the military martial court that tried them for mutiny.
According to our source, Nigerian soldiers are fiercely proud of their exploits and anything that makes them lose face must be dealt with squarely. This according to him was responsible for the alleged mutiny which led to the court marshalling of some of their colleagues. Our source, a serving soldier who pleaded anonymity said that the unfortunate uprising leading to the attack on the vehicle of the General Officer Commanding the 7th Division of the Nigerian Army, General Ahmed Mohammed was as a result of poor tactics in the field.
He pointed out that the residents of Bama still nurse contempt for the soldiers because of the mistakes they made during the battle of Bama. But they did not know that it was not the fault of the soldiers in the field rather the tactical mistakes came from their superiors which culminated in the alleged mutiny against the former General Officer Commanding GOC of the 7th Division. The soldiers claim that the Defence Headquarters should be blamed because they failed to heed to their complaints. According to the soldiers, General Mohammed, our source said, has had his strategies queried several times because it all led to failures. His tactical ability has been a concern since he was made the GOC of the Division. His soldiers have even complained to the hearing of Abuja that he is fond of taking decisions that lead to wrong judgments and deaths of the soldiers and civilian. They said that this has been going on even before the first visit of the Chief of Army staff General Kenneth Minimah to the north east to cheer the soldiers.
However, regardless of what the soldiers did which culminated in the said mutiny, many within the barracks are of the views that too many mistakes have been made by the senior military officers and politicians who have been managing this insurgency. It is these mistakes that have led to pent up frustration by the soldiers and subsequent attack on the GOC which the high command of the Army is hurrying to nip in the bud with death sentences against the 12 soldiers instead of addressing the grievances of the soldiers, our source say.
General Chris Olukolade in one of his visits to the Division this year actually told this reporter that the essence of using this approach to manage the crisis was to set an example so that other divisions do not get infected by what he called insubordination and mutiny. However some within the military circles are worried because the strategy may not work. A retired military officer who spoke with National Daily in Maiduguri during the week warned that if the condition of service fails to improve, there will be no guarantee that it will force the soldiers to keep mute, warning that it may even lead to a silent rebellion in all the Army divisions right now knowing that this trial was directed at the men and not the officers who should share in the blame. Add to that, the retired officer who would not want his name mentioned said that rumoured retirement of General Ahmed Mohammed, the man in the eye of the storm may not go down well with the junior officers, he said.
From our investigations within the ranks of the soldiers, the very trial itself was a mistake. Instead of management placating the men who have been fighting and losing their lives to a rag tag war being fought by the government who have failed to declare a full scale war against insurgents who are treating them as enemies, they have declared a silent war against soldiers. This has turned to a serious quandary in all the battalions under the 7th Division.
During our investigations, we found that most of the rank and file of the 7th Division of the Army received the news of the sentence of their colleagues with shock. Most of them are really bitter and have vowed to respond accordingly if the sentence was carried. According to one of the military sources “Our generals have not been carrying soldiers along. They treat us as if we are still in the 1960’s when soldiers did not go to school before the civil war. Soldiers are now educated. A lot of those who they treat like ignoramuses have quality certificates including degrees. So it is not true that we do not know our rights we know all our rights but we do not have anybody who will see our plights and adjust the army act to give us fair dealings. These generals are really cheating us. They treat us as if we do not matter when it is us the soldiers that make their lives go on.
“If people think we complain too much because the job is about obeying and complaining later then they are getting it wrong. We have been complaining that way because there is no general who do not have one of us as his orderly or batsman yet they do not feel our pains. They know we know their secrets which are why they think this Court Marshall may make us submit, it is not possible.
“Let me tell you, our colleagues are their batmen and they know so much about their secrets. This job is about keeping secrets but very soon we will start to expose them because we have evidence that so many of them are members of boko Haram. What happened to those who were fingered in dangerous Boko Haram deals, the thing just died a natural death isnt it? Now they want to kill our colleagues. We are waiting to see how they will do that. If they eventually kill those colleagues of ours, I swear there will be repercussions, very daring ones.
On the situation on ground in the 7th Division he went on:”The barracks is tensed up now and we do not know how the battered morale of our colleagues will be built up in case of any eventuality. I was trained to fight war with the right equipments, not to go and deliberately expose myself to be killed. So many of our colleagues have been killed, we buried more than 100 corpses in a month at the Marmalari Barracks Cemetery. Many of them are buried without the knowledge of their next of kin which is wrong. How will you not inform the next of kin about somebody’s death immediately it happened only for them to get to know when it is time to evacuate them from the barracks?
“My brother we live in a country of different laws for different people, if not why would they fix a different law for themselves with full honours when they pay the supreme price and a different law for us if not for corruption which has crept into our institution? That is a wrong which must be redressed by the National Assembly because left to our generals; this old colonial behaviour is ok by them. Mark my word, we expect our colleagues to appeal but at the end of the day if this judgment is carried, the whole army will be divided between officers and men because we are their drivers, cooks, orderly, batmen and everything you think of, they rely on us, including their very lives. No general can live without the soldier but we can live without them. That court Marshall Judgment is faulty.
“We are not rebellious as General Olukolade is painting us in some of his pronouncements we read in the media. We are rather very loyal soldiers of the Nigerian Army and the behaviour of those sentenced to death is just a signal that they, the officers will not be safe if they kill our people unnecessarily. How many do they want to kill? We have a common enemy Boko Haram inside this very state, instead of them to rally round the soldiers and the people to get to the root, they are using oppression. We are waiting to see who will fire the shots at the firing range and where they will get the soldiers from to do the job.”
Another soldier told this reporter that the country could be dismembered completely if the accused soldiers were shot because his colleagues have planned to abandon their stations for the officers to fight the insurgents themselves, and if that happens, it means the insurgents could go as far as Abuja without anybody stopping their trail of impunity the way they have been contained in the north east. He said he was not happy with the way the judiciary has been handling a lot of these impunity cases brought before them adding that they were supposed to set examples for the country to remain united. He cited the case of major Hamza Mustapha who had committed so many atrocities yet was released by the same judiciary.
He went on: “my brother, officers are symbols of the unit, but we are the people that hold the unit. The contents of any unit are the real soldiers, without that unit you will not be talking to me in Maiduguri by now. It is the same unit that forms the Chief Clerks, drivers of officers, batmen, RSM and many others who protect and take care of both the doctors and the wounded in MRS. They form the core of the fighting men. It has been so from time in memorial and it is time, they begin to seek our advice in anything concerning us and our very welfare. We want all the rights our international colleagues are enjoying be restored to us. When soldiers pay the supreme price, they should be recognized. They have refused to declare full scale war and it has opened a can of warms and if they do not want us to be exposing them; they should give our next of kins accesses to our remains if we pay the supreme price. Why are they playing politics with people’s lives by refusing to give us the right equipments and the matching orders to fight a full scale war? Why should field commanders ask for permission before routing out insurgents? He asked angrily.
Meanwhile, while the soldiers continued their campaign for better conditions of service including increased field allowance available in a full scale war, several skirmishes have been heard between Konduga and the Mafa axis of the town where insurgents of Boko Haram have taken over several towns and villages. The fracas of 11th September led by Col Danladi Hassan of the 103 Battalion led to a big catch, a serving soldier of the Nigerian Army who has been helping the enemy was recaptured from the Boko Haram intruders. He is believed to be undergoing debriefing sessions to neutralize the radicalization he may have gone through in the hands of the Sambisa war Lords. Lots of items were recovered including: 5 Toyota Hilux vehicles, 4 Buffaloes Land Cruisers, 35 FN Rifles, 39 ak47 Rifles, 6GPMG, 9RPG’s and 2 Boko Haram flags meant to be planted somewhere.
Since last week, residents in the Maiduguri metropolis could not sleep because the close gun battles. There are indications that the insurgents are dead serious about getting to Maiduguri. They had a grand plan to come from different angles. And based on their plans some of them moved down to Gamju, close to Beneshiek, a strategic town along the Damaturu, Maiduguri road.
Indeed no one is praying for an invasion of the state capital the way the insurgents have been successful in some major towns and villages in northern Borno state. They are really not resting in their oars because they have been radicalised to believe that capturing Maiduguri is a divine duty which must be fulfilled even if it takes the rest of this decade, said a source who knows about the insurgents. But the gallant soldiers are not giving an inch, as at Wednesday morning, this reporter was around West-End Roundabout which connects Customs Area. A long convoy of battered tanks and Toyota Hilux fighter vehicles were being ferried back to Marmalari Barracks where it rightly belonged. Three of the tanks had massive inscriptions of the insignia of the haramists in arabic. On Thursday about the same time another convoy was ferried to their Divisional Base in Barga Road. This means they had converted stolen tanks of the Nigerian Army and the 7th division was fully in control of these tanks seized from theirs failed attempt to overrun the infantry soldiers at Konduga. For the first time in a long while soldiers smiled at the citizenry and the people hailed them. Shouts of well done, well done, rented the air with lots of people waving at the victorious warriors. Sources say that the hero of this latest conquest is Col. Danladi Hassan who was said to be actively involved in the fields. Residents of Maiduguri are in high spirit with many praying for an end to this war. From every indication, the soldiers are having the upper hand.