At the plenary on Tuesday, the House unanimously adopted a motion moved by the Chief Whip, Mohammed Monguno, and co-sponsored by Deputy Whip, Nkeiruka Onyejeocha; Minority Leader, Ndudi Elumelu; and Deputy Minority Leader, Toby Okechukwu.
It was entitled, ‘Need to Investigate the Purported Voluntary Resignation of Over 365 Soldiers from the Nigerian Army’.
The figure is actually 356, according to a memo from the aggrieved soldiers to the Chief of Army Staff, Lt.-Gen. Tukur Buratai, dated July 3, 2020, with Reference Number NA/COAS/001, quoting the Harmonised Terms and Conditions of Service for Soldiers/Ratings/Airmen (Revised) 2017.
Sunday PUNCH had on reported that the approval of the voluntary disengagement of the 356 soldiers was contained in a 17-page circular from Buratai, AHQ DOAA/G1/300/92, signed by Brig-Gen T.E. Gagariga, for the army chief.
Also, the document was copied to Headquarters, Theatre Command, Operation Lafiya Dole, Borno State, the Headquarters of 1, 2, 3, 4, 6, 7, 8, 81, and 82 Divisions of the Nigerian Army and other formations.
Adopting the motion, the House mandated its Committee on Army to “investigate these allegations and report back in one week”.
Moving the motion, Monguno noted that the Nigeria Army, which was founded in 1960, is the largest component of the Nigerian Armed Forces with a staff strength of about 200,000 soldiers, with the responsibilities of taking charge of land warfare operations as well as protest and defend the territorial integrity of the nation.
The Chief Whip recalled that on June 22, 2020, a Lance Corporal in the Nigerian Army, Martin Idakpein, published a video on the Internet in which he condemned the lackadaisical attitude of the Chief of Army Staff, Lt-Gen Tukur Buratai, towards the attacks and killings of civilians and soldiers as well as the untold hardship soldiers face while conducting combat operations.
Monguno said, “The House is aware that on several occasions Nigerian soldiers have disobeyed orders from superior officers in protest against poor welfare arrangements and alleged embezzlement of allowances due them by their superiors. There have been cases of mutiny resulting in sporadic shooting and attempt lynching of senior officers.
“Recently, Major General Olusegun Adeniyi, Commander of Operation Lafiya Dole, Nigeria‘s counter-terrorism headquarters, was removed for complaining about inferior military wares and poor equipment of troops, while briefing the Chief of Army Staff from combat zone after successfully repelling an attack from Boko Haram insurgents.
“The House is concerned that not too long ago, the General Officer Commanding, 7 Division, of the Nigeria Army in Maimalari, Major General Victor Ezegwu, escaped being lynched by rampaging soldiers for leaving them with neither food nor water while fighting in the northeastern part of the country for two days.
“The House is further concerned that on the 3rd of July 2020, via a (a memo with) Reference Number NA/COAS/001, 356 soldiers, which is a battalion, serving in the North-East and other theatres of operations, wrote to the Chief of Army Staff, asking for voluntary retirement from the force and citing loss of interest as reasons for their retirement.”
The Chief Whip stated that the House was disturbed that military sources had attributed the massive resignations to loss of morale, unimproved allowances, mass casualties in the hands of Boko Haram terrorists due to lack of intelligence apparatus and fighting equipment as well as poor welfare packages for them and their families by the army authorities.