Some soldiers of the Nigerian Army have lamented what they termed the “unfair treatment” meted out to them by the military authorities.
The officers, who spoke in a video clip posted on the social media on Tuesday, claimed that more than 70 of them had fainted over lack of food and water.
NE could not, however, ascertain the day, month or year the video was recorded, except that the soldiers said they had been in the area since 2014 and had spent about two years.
However we observed in the video that three soldiers, who were foaming in the mouth, were laid down on the floor as their colleagues made efforts to resuscitate them.
Another soldier was seen under a military truck, taking what looked like a drip.
The soldier who did the recording was heard commenting at the background, as other troops lent their voices to criticise the ill-treatment after capturing Allagano, Borno State.
The soldier behind the recording said, “They asked us to capture Allagano, we have captured Allagano. Soldiers are fainting, soldiers are dying. See the way soldiers have fainted and turned to something else. We have been here since 2014, we didn’t die. We came to capture Allagano, and we have done that.”
Another soldier said, “Help us to pass this message to the President, we are dying here. See how soldiers are falling. Boko Haram didn’t kill us. It is lack of food and water that is killing us.”
Another said, “After we have burnt 12 villages; brave men. The military authorities are not doing well. Please (Muhammadu) Buhari, do something about this.”
The soldier, who did the recording, later promised his colleagues that he would post the video to human rights organisations, in order to get attention to their plight.
He said, “See soldiers falling. Boko Haram didn’t touch him. It is lack of water. More than 70 soldiers fainted today. This is our three days here; we are falling over lack of water. They asked us to capture Allagano and we have done that. Bring our food and water. It is not good, it is not right, it is not fair. Somebody is crying now.
“No food, no water, what war are we fighting? Till we all die here?” another soldier, who interjected, queried.
“No food, no water. Look at all our efforts. Seventeen bombs on the villages, and we launched another one, (destroying) more than 20 houses,” he added.
After he was done with the recording, the soldier handed over the recording device to one of his colleagues and faced the camera.
He said, “We have captured Allagano, we have been four days here. No food, no water, no pakapaka. This is after two years. It is not supposed to be like that. Look at our colleagues.”
A top military official, who did not want to be identified, however, told The PUNCH that the issues raised by the soldiers had been longed resolved.
He said, “Those issues were there, but that was about one year ago. The military authorities had long resolved them and those soldiers are no longer in the theatre of operations. There is no operation unit without a water tanker or borehole as we speak.”
Meanwhile, the Chief of Army Staff, Lt. Gen. Tukur Buratai, at a briefing on Tuesday said his administration had worked towards prompt payment of salaries and allowances to the troops in the battlefront.
Buratai said the army took note of reforming the allowances of the troops.
He said, “The implementation of the Integrated Payroll and Personnel Information System is key to the management of troops’ salaries and allowances. This is so as to continue to boost the morale of the fighting troops.
“I understand that seamless, timely and regular payment of personnel salaries and allowances are an essential ingredient for the sustenance of the morale of the troops. This is especially important towards the current ongoing efforts at consolidating on the counter-terrorism efforts in the north-eastern part of the country, and indeed all other operations around the country.
“We will not relent on our efforts to wipe out the Boko Haram. I have taken special note of reforms of the salaries of troops.”