by Dare Lawal
After yesterday’s mutiny at the Maimalari Barracks of the 7 Division of the Nigerian Army in Borno state, the army has said it is investigating the matter.
In a move which came as a big blow at a time when the nation is rallying behind the military to rescue the abducted schoolgirls, soldiers fired shots in the direction of the convoy of the General Officer Commanding (GOC) of the Division, Major General Ahmed Mohammmed. They were protesting alleged exposure to “unnecessary risks” by military authorities.
The GOC had reportedly visited the Maimalari Cantonment to boost the morale of troops.
According to reports, these were the grouses which the troops had against their leadership: 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.
According to a source who spoke with The Nation newspaper: “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. 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. 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.”
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.”