•More have allegedly deserted and on AWOL
•Soldiers cite betrayal and sabotage of war against terror, deaths of colleagues
•Damboa tensed as low morale, battle fatigue hit the troops over intelligence leaks to terrorists
By Senator Iroegbu
In an unprecedented move and sign of protest against the continued killing of their colleagues, over 386 Soldiers of the Nigerian Army have volunteered to disengage from service indefinitely.
Global Sentinel was also informed by military sources that “many have either deserted, abandoned their positions, on AWOL or about to also disengage if nothing is done quickly to arrest the downward spiral of morale”.
This is owing to the fact that most of the soldiers felt betrayed and uncertain about the strategic direction of Nigeria’s Counter-terrorism and Counter-insurgency Operations against Boko Haram terrorists and Islamic State in West Africa Province (ISWAP).
According to sources, most of the soldiers including those still in active duty are rattled at the rate of losses owing to the frequency operational intelligence leaks to the terrorists.
The mass disengagement of the soldiers was acknowledged in a Nigerian Army Circular dated July 8, 2020 and signed by Brig-Gen. TE Gagariga on behalf of the Chief of Army Staff (COAS), Lt-Gen. Tukur Buratai, with subject: ‘Approval for voluntary/medical discharge soldiers: First and Second Quarters 2020 79NA/ MWO OA and 385 others’.
Gagariga in the circular stated that Buratai in compliance with the provision of the Harmonised Terms and Conditions of Service (Revised) 2017, “has approved the voluntary/medical retirement of the above named MWO and 385 others”. Their names were listed in listed in Annexes A and B sighted by Global Sentinel.
The circular read: “The soldiers are to proceed on terminal leave WEF 3 Dec 20 while their disengagement date takes effect 3 Jan 21 in accordance with the NA Administrative Policy and Procedures No 27 paragraph 3 and 4
“Accordingly, I am directed to request formations and units to release all affected soldiers to report at HQ CAR with their unit service documents for documentation NLT 1 October 20 to ensure that:
All forms of military controlled items, arms, ammunition and items of combat kits are recovered from the soldiers prior to their disengagement date and certify that they are properly de-kitted.”
He also urged all the disengaging soldiers to ensure they complete all necessary documents for withdrawal from: NAWIS Contributions, BENFUND Contributions, and National Mortgage Contributions.
“I am directed forward as enclosures, the handwritten applications and duly completed NA Form 9B in respect of the affected soldiers for HQ CAR to Process their discharge benefits accordingly,” Gagariga directed.
Speaking a security source, who is saddened by the development said that “most of the soldiers seeking disengagement are merely protesting the continuous leak of information to Boko Haram terrorists within local communities about the movement of troops with the recent being the killing of over 38 soldiers”.
Apart from the questionable actions of the Army leadership, most of soldiers were demoralised that the informants and local collaborators that were supporting the insurgents rather than providing intelligence to security services.
“Even as we speak, officers and soldiers are not happy with the Damboa sad incidents, how the Army authorities wanted to downplay the casualties and death of their colleagues in previous similar occurrences,” the source said.
The fact, the source stressed, is that some of them cannot withstand situations where local collaborators and information expose soldiers to Boko Haram attacks.
“It is demoralising to say the least. If you read through their reasons for early disengagement from the Service most of them cited ‘loss of Interest’, which is indicative of low morale in the Army due to poor leadership. I mean most stated lack of interest. It is an indication of the rot in the system and poor leadership and mismanagement has caused the Army to be broken, demoralised and polarised more than ever before,” the source added.
A retired military officer who spoke to Global Sentinel on the condition of anonymity, wondered what could be the reason for such mass retirement at a time Nigerian actually needs more boots on ground to fight the war against terror and other security challenges across the country.
“For the fact that the COAS even approved this without having a sober reflection, I hope we are wrong but what is a General without his troops or who needs a General whose troops are continuously depleted. This is that serious,” the retired senior officer said.
Meanwhile, Global Sentinel did reach out to the Coordinator of of Defence Media Operations (DMO), Defence Headquarters (DHQ), Maj-Gen. John Enenche, and the Director of Army Public Relations (DAPR), Col. Sagir Musa, for further inquiries but there was no response as at the time of filing the report. (Global Sentinel)