A week after more than 100 soldiers were allegedly killed including a commander by a faction of Boko Haram insurgents, some Nigerian soldiers have accused top commanders of leading them to ‘Boko Haram slaughter’.
In a video that has gone viral, the soldiers said they are armed with obsolete weapons while facing a deadly group with more sophisticated weapons.
The hazy video, apparently taken from a camera phone, featured the soldiers expressing their anger in harsh tones.
The video has, however, not been independently verified.
In the video, the soldiers claimed their top commanders are using the Boko Haram war as an enterprise to enrich themselves at the expense of their lives.
The five minutes and 51 seconds video was, according to inside military sources, made shortly after troops prosecuting the Boko Haram war in the northern part of Borno State suffered a devastating attack at their location in Metele village on October 8.
Another attack was recorded on November 16 which is said to have claimed the lives of more than 100 soldiers.
The military admitted the attack then but downplayed the tragedy, saying the situation had been contained and terrorists pushed back.
The army is, however, yet to speak on this video by the soldiers.
The video by the aggrieved soldiers showed them displaying most of their war vehicles which they said were not only obsolete but unserviceable.
The soldiers said despite huge resources released by the government for the purpose of buying modern armament for the troops, the Nigeria military only supplies them with obsolete weapons, “that can’t stand any good fight with Boko Haram.”
They were heard saying in the video that their military commanders are using them to “make money” by deploying war tanks that have outlived their usefulness.
The soldiers said many of their colleagues were killed by the insurgents who also seized arms and ammunition.
“We are Nigerian soldiers dumped here in the middle of the desert. See how the Nigeria military is treating us. This place has just been attacked; see our fellow soldiers how they are burnt alive inside Hilux vans. They are using us to make money; why is it so? Are we not human beings?”
The soldiers said the Boko Haram attackers also went away with some high calibre motorised weapons like multiple rocket launchers, called 40-Barrel.
“This is the place the Boko Haram came to take away 40-barrel,” the soldiers said.
“Look at how MRAP (mine resistant ambush protection) vehicles were destroyed. If RPG can penetrate MRAP, is it we human beings that it cannot destroy?”
The soldiers, who were deployed to Metele shortly after the October 8 attack, said about 147 of them were on the ground at the time they were shooting the video.
“We are 147 soldiers deployed here now, and they want to come and waste us. We will not accept that. Our blood is not meant to be spilt here; we are going to report to the federal government that we are using old war vehicles.”
The soldiers were seen in the video taking inventory of the number of war vehicles destroyed by the Boko Haram.
“This is T72 war tank that Albarnawi group came to destroy. Why are they using us to make money? We need the federal government to interfere (intervene) before they allow that terrorist called Albarnawi to come and kill us. He is being taken everywhere to collect money and then coming here to kill us.
“The federal government should come to our aid, these people (commanders) said we are nothing but zombies who don’t know our rights. But what they don’t know is that we are millennium soldiers, learned soldiers, not Oluyole (fake); we are not 63 NA soldiers, we are not 79 NA soldiers; most of us are graduates here.
“This is another T12 that was destroyed during the attack. Even the T12 tanks are very obsolete because they were procured during the regime of (Shehu) Shagari. These T12 war tanks were manufactured in 1983 in Slovakia.
“The equipment is not working; once you fire two rounds, you have to stop the engine to let it cool down; and before it could pick up again, Boko Haram would have entered and caused havoc. We have nothing protecting us here except some sand parapet and barbed wire. This place Metele is the exact place they killed troops of the Operation Last Hold.
“Despite all the money the federal government gave them they could not buy modern weapons, all they could do was to refurbish 1983 vehicles. The federal government gave them money to buy the best vehicles but the Nigeria army is here busy buying locally made like Innoson vehicles.”
However, in response to the latest attack, the Nigerian Army said on Friday there was a devastating attack on a military base in Borno State by Boko Haram on November 18, one week after the incident occurred. It did not give number of soldiers list in the attack.
“Whilst it is true that there was an attack” on the Nigerian Army 157 Task Force Battalion on November 18, 2018, it has “become necessary to correct several misinformation being circulated with regards to this unfortunate event,” the Army said in a statement on its Twitter handle.
Several reports said the Islamic State in West Africa (ISWA) a faction of Boko Haram known to target military asset has claimed responsibility and published a video on the attack on Thursday.
The video was circulated as having been shot during the attack in Metele on Sunday, but the Army said that claim was untrue.
The Army said: “several social media, print and online publications have been brandishing false casualty figures as well as circulating various footages of old and inaccurate Boko Haram propaganda videos and alluding same to be the attack on 157 Task Force Battalion.
“Whilst it is understandable how such misinformation can spread in this era of social media frenzy, the spurious circulation of some of these videos only contribute to further propagate the propaganda intent of the terrorists; to misinform the populace and portray themselves as what they are not,” it said.
The statement said normalcy had since returned to the battalion and Metele general area because “reinforcing units have been able to repel the terrorists”.
The Army blamed its failure to speak on the attack for nearly a week on the need “to respect the families of the fallen soldiers and the anguish they were living through”.
“It is important for the public to note that the NA has laid down procedures for reporting incidents that involve its personnel who fall casualty in action.
“Out of respect for the families of our gallant troops, the NOKs (next of kin) are first notified before any form of public information so as to avoid exacerbating the grief family members would bear, were they to discover such from unofficial sources,” it said.