Following the unruly behaviour of some protesting soldiers at the Maimalari cantonment on Wednesday, the Defence Headquarters on Thursday announced the redeployment of the General Officer Commanding, GOC, 7 Division, Maiduguri, Ahmed Mohammed, a major-general.
The Director of Defence Information, Chris Olukolade, a major-general, said at a news conference in Maiduguri that the redeployment was a decision taken by the military authorities in Abuja.
The soldiers were protesting the killing of their colleagues during an ambush by the Boko Haram. They fired shots sporadically in the air when Mohammed visited the Maimalari Barrack from where some of the killed soldiers were mobilized.
According to reports, the soldiers were said to have been protesting what they described as a wrong order given by their boss which led to the killing of over 10 of their colleagues.
A military source within the barrack told journalists that the soldiers were sent on an operation in the ongoing counter-insurgency campaign and had indicated their willingness to spend the night in a village on Tuesday but were ordered by the army leadership in the division to proceed to Maiduguri in the night.
The order, however, proved disastrous as the soldiers were ambushed by Boko Haram insurgents who killed ten of them and injured others.
Olukolade, however, denied reports that Mohammed was wounded in Wednesday’s protest by some soldiers who also reportedly fired at his official car.
“The GOC or his aides were not wounded during the incident; let me say again that nobody was injured during the incident,” he said.
The Defence spokesman said the military authorities had instituted an inquiry into the near mutiny by the soldiers.
Giving an account of what transpired, Olukolade confirmed that six soldiers were killed in an ambush by insurgents.
“On May 13, our troops, who had been on an assignment in Chibok, were returning to Maiduguri when they were ambushed in Dalwa, few kilometres to the city. One officer and five soldiers were killed, while a number of others were wounded,” he stated.
“The General Officer Commanding (GOC) was touched by the incident. So, he wanted to sympathise with the troop by addressing those present. In the process, some soldiers became unruly and began to fire some shots into the air. The situation was quickly brought under control and normalcy restored as there was calm in the cantonment and normal operational activities are ongoing,” he added.
Olukolade said the inquiry would come out with exact situation of things based on which the military authorities will take its next action.
He described the situation as sad, but said the Nigerian Army is poised to uphold its principle of discipline and loyalty to service.
In the meantime, he said an acting GOC had been appointed to oversee the affairs of the division and assured that the redeployment of the GOC would not affect the ongoing anti-terrorism war of the Nigerian military.