© 2018 - International Centre for Investigative Reporting
Nigerian Soldiers Desert Battlefield, Flee To Cameroon
The BBC has reported that 480 Nigerian soldiers have fled into Cameroon following clashes between them and Boko Haram insurgents in Gamboru Ngala, in Borno State.
The BBC also quotes Cameroonian Army spokesman, Didier Badjek, a lieutenant colonel, as saying that “the soldiers had been disarmed and were now being accommodated in schools.”
The insurgents stormed Gamboru Ngala, a town close to the Cameroon border, early Monday and are believed to have overrun the army barracks and taken over the whole town.
Nigerian soldiers have increasingly complained that they are being forced to confront Boko Haram militants who are by far better armed.
Morale is low among the troops and there is a general feeling that the federal government and the military authorities are not doing enough to equip the soldiers to fight the insurgents.
Military sources have told the https://icirnigeria.org/ that there have been increasing cases of insubordination, desertion and near mutiny so much so that the military authorities are hardly able to cope.
Many soldiers who spoke to this website in the past opined that the general feeling among Nigerian troops is that they are daily being asked to “commit suicide” as they are made to face well-armed Boko Haram gunmen while they are equipped with only AK 47 rifles.
In a report titled “How Corrupt Army Commanders Undermine Fight Against Boko Haram”, icirnigeria.org captured the feeling among many soldiers that corruption in the military high command was the major reason why the insurgents were having an upper hand in the war against terrorism.
Apart from complaining about not being paid the N30,000 allowance due to them monthly, the soldiers who spoke to our reporters said that “while they are equipped with just AK 47 riffles, the insurgents deploy the most sophisticated ammunition, including Browning Machine Guns, BMGs; armoured personnel carriers and rocket propelled grenades.”
The military spokesman, Chris Olukolade, at that time dismissed the soldiers’ accusations of corruption against their commanders as well as allegations that they were Ill armed. He also denied the assertion by several of the soldiers that the only weapon issued to Nigerian soldiers is AK 47 rifles
“It is not only AK 47. Haven’t you seen our tanks on the field? Do they have tanks? All these are graded by the regimentation of the system. There is a table of equipment for every formation,” said the army general.
“A good soldier will pose his questions to his commanders. A good soldier will not be writing this kind of thing in the press or to BBC. So you can understand the motive of the person. Those kinds of characters are not with us. If they are soldiers… and we have a very strong belief that by the level of discipline expected of a soldier, the people writing all of these are likely not to be soldiers,” Olukolade said.
With the fleeing of Nigerian soldiers from the battle field into another country, certainly, the military now has more to deal with than disgruntled soldiers blabbering to journalists.