More Details on Soldiers Revolt in Maiduguri, Defence Headquarter Probes into Mutiny
Soldiers at the 7 Division of the Nigerian Army at the Maimalari Barracks yesterday revolted against the General Officer Commanding (GOC) of the Division, Major General Ahmed Mohammmed.
Although the situation is said to have been brought under control,one account said the soldiers were reacting in anger over the ambush attack they suffered in the hands of Boko Haram terrorists on their way back from an operation in Kalabalge during which about 12 of them got killed.
The few soldiers that survived the attack blamed their plight on the military hierarchy in the division headed by the GOC who, they said, had insisted that they must return to Maiduguri via a route they had earlier considered dangerous for them to take at night.
Some soldiers who shared the sentiments of the soldiers that carried out the shooting on the GOC said the victims and those that survived had pleaded to pass the night in one of the villages so that they could safely return to Maiduguri on Wednesday morning.
“But those commanding the troop declined their request on the grounds that the GOC wanted them back to Maiduguri at all cost,” said a soldier who pleaded anonymity.
The source said, “Some soldiers had left Chibok for Maiduguri on Tuesday but they asked their commanders to let them sleep over on the way because it was very late, but they were ordered to continue with the journey. Unfortunately, they were ambushed by some unknown gunmen who killed them, and it was their corpses that were brought back to Maimalari Cantonment in the morning (yesterday).”
The source further said: “The arrival of General Mohammed while the soldiers were bitter over the demise of their colleagues compounded the whole scenario as two of them opened fired in his direction but his personal aides fenced him; if not, they would have either injured him or killed him.”
However, another account said the mutiny was allegedly triggered by the arrival of the bodies of four soldiers, who were ambushed and killed in the Chibok axis by Boko Haram insurgents, a source said.
“When the soldiers saw the bodies of their colleagues, tempers rose and they revolted against the GOC.
“They attributed the killings to misleading information. Some locals had provided clues which could lead to the location of the abducted girls.
“But while following the clues, the troops were ambushed by Boko Haram and killed. The soldiers claimed that unverified clues from locals by the military hierarchy had been leading to needless killing of soldiers.”
The soldiers became angry and started firing shots at the convoy of the GOC who came visiting the Maimalari cantonment.
Some of the soldiers were said to be angry that they had become war wearied because the military has not been rotating troops as it is conventional.
Others were also said to be aggrieved over provision of obsolete equipment, which had made them vulnerable to insurgents.
Although a few others were alleged to have complained about short-payment of allowances, a military source said all stipends and inconvenience allowances had been paid up to date.
The grouses of the troops were:
•cheap exposure to ambush by Boko Haram insurgents due to uncoordinated information;
•needless killing of soldiers as a result of misleading information;
•insufficient food(one meal per day);
•obsolete equipment, limited arms and ammunition to fight insurgents
•alleged short-payment of accruing allowances; and
•non-rotation of troops leading to diminishing returns.
A source said: “These soldiers attacked the convoy of the GOC who escaped by the whiskers.
“But some orderlies of the GOC, who are fellow soldiers, were shot. The injured soldiers are receiving treatment.
A military source said: “The situation was immediately brought under control by the Military High Command.
“The report available indicated that the soldiers only shot sporadically into the air in protest; they did not attack the GOC.
“They registered their displeasure over misleading information by the locals in Chibok and other frontline areas leading to incessant ambush and killing of troops.
“Some of them also demanded the adoption of rotation system for troops because the same set of soldiers had been battling Boko Haram insurgents.”
Responding to a question, the source added: “The mutiny was not about allowances because these had been paid to date.”
The Defence Headquarters yesterday said a board of inquiry would be raised to probe the shooting.
The Director of Defence Information, Maj-Gen. Chris Olukolade, made the clarification in the military’s reaction to troops’ mutiny .
The statement said: “The 7 Division of the Nigerian Army is to institute a military board of inquiry into the circumstances surrounding the conduct of soldiers who fired some shots today while the General Officers Commanding was addressing troops in Maimalari cantonment Maiduguri.
“The incident occurred when the bodies of four soldiers who died in an ambush while returning from patrol duties in Chibok were being conveyed to the morgue.
“There is calm in the cantonment and all normal operations activities are ongoing.”
Apart from the statement, there were indications last night that the Chief of Defence Staff, Air Marshal Alex Badeh, sent a team to Maiduguri for preliminary stock-taking of the mutiny.
The source said: “The CDS has sent a team of senior officials to the 7 Division for preliminary findings. This is without prejudice to the board of inquiry which will be set up.”
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