By Kazeem Ugbodaga
The Nigeria Army on Friday opens up on a purported protest embarked upon by soldiers in Borno to demand better weapons to fight Boko Haram.
There were reports of sporadic shootings on Thursday night in Borno as soldiers protested their deployment to a location in the theatre of operation.
But the Army, in its reaction denied there was a protest in Borno, but admitted there was a mild issue which was quickly solved.
A statement issued by Brigadier General Mohammed Yerima, Director Army Public Relations, said the attention the Army headquarters had been drawn to an unsubstantiated reports going round on the mainstream media that soldiers of an unidentified battalion in Operation Lafiya Dole had 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 represented the true situation of the incidents,” it said.
The statement added that preliminary investigations by Theatre Commander, Operation Lafiya Dole, Maj. Gen. Farouq Yahaya, revealed that what some media reports described as protest was a mild complaints 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.”
The Army added that soldiers, however, had the right to demand for proper weapons to prosecute war against Boko Haram.
“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 Theartre of Operation,” the Army said.
The Army also denied report that any soldier was owed any operational allowances.
“No soldier was owned any Allowance in the Theartre. 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,” the statement said.