The Nigeria Army has announced the release of funds for payment of operational allowances and logistics for the 3rd Quarter 2017 owed to its staff for the last two months.
The development is coming hours after a brave soldier under Operation Lafiya Dole wrote President Muhammadu Buhari lamenting how corruption in the Nigeria Army is killing troops deployed to fight Boko Haram insurgents in the North East.
In the letter to Buhari, the soldier had said, “Your Excellency, having read the online correspondence between Dr. Idris Ahmed of CUPS and our Army spokesman, Brigadier Generral S.K. Usman, I have decided to take a major risk and write to your Excellency directly over this issue.
“Sir, I am a course-mate of Pvt. Abdulrauf Aliyu, who Oga S.K. claimed that he has gone AWOL. We trained at the same company, Depot Nigerian Army, Zaria, Kaduna State. We are presently posted to Operation LAFIYA DOLE. On behalf of all the colleagues of Pvt. Abdulrauf Aliyu, I categorically refute the allegation that Pvt. Abdulrauf Aliyu deserted the Army.
“The Sections 59 – 63 of the Armed Forces Act, Cap A20, Laws of the Federation of Nigeria 2004, as quoted by Oga S.K., has always been mentioned by our superiors, to protect themselves and antagonise us, whenever they have done mischief.
“Your Excellency, the case of Pvt. Abdulrauf Aliyu is actually not an isolated one. There are many such cases of soldiers who got wounded at the battlefront. It is true, some are well looked after, as mentioned by Oga S.K. Usman in his press release. Unfortunately, due to corruption in the system, some unfortunate soldiers, mostly from less privileged backgrounds, are left to fend for themselves. Like myself, Pvt. Abdulrauf Aliyu comes from a humble family. He sustained life threatening injuries in the abdomen during a routine operation.
“The initial first aid treatment and medical care that he received was very inadequate. With full Army permission, Pvt Abdulrauf Aliyu and his family paid for his transfer to University of Maiduguri Teaching Hospital. Unfortunately, the care he received in Maiduguri Teaching Hospital too was inadequate. Eventually, his family had to pay for his transfer to a specialist facility in Sokoto.
“Your Excellency, corruption in the Army is REAL, and it is killing us. Every man and woman who decided to join the Army knows the risks.. While we expect to die in the hands of the enemy, we don’t expect to die in the hands of the Nigerian Army, due to corruption and criminal negligence.
“Just the other week, about 14 (I am not sure of the exact numbers) of our colleagues died in the hands of Boko Harram, who attacked the Army camp. The circumstances surrounding their unnecessary death warrant a full investigation by his Excellency. Sir, you will be shocked of the outcome. The bodies of the slain heroes are still lying here in Damaturu, Yobe State.
“The story of this incidence has hardly been officially published by the Army or Nigerian media.
“Your Excellency, this is the third month in a row that we have been denied of our operations allowance. We have to rely ONLY on our meager salary for everything. From battalion commanders, to Company and Sectors leaders, we are all in debt, because our salaries are not enough to sustain us at the battlefront while feeding our families back at home. It is a big shame that we have joined the Army to defend the civilians, yet we have to go to the civilians in town to borrow money to fend for ourselves at the battlefront.
“Take for instance the food that we are fed. Most of the times it is not fit for human consumption. I attach for your perusal, your Excellency, the lunch that was fed to us this afternoon (3/11/2017). As you can clearly see, there is not a single piece of meat or fish in it. The taste of the food is so bad that we have to add surplus salt to be able to eat it. This is also dangerous for our health.. A plate of our food per soldier is probably about two hundred Naira (N200).
“It is said that the Federal Government spends about fourteen thousand Naira (N14, 000) on each prisoner in Nigeria. Here, at the battlefront in Operation LAFIYA DOLE, the Army spends about six hundred Naira (N600) per day per soldier on feeding us, while in reality billions of Naira is appropriated per year for this purpose.
“Your Excellency, we are treated like animals.. Most of us are afraid to talk because of the dire consequence. As the Commander in Chief of the Armed Forces, your Excellency, kindly investigate. There is corruption in the Army.
“Brave soldiers are needlessly dying.”
Apparently stung by the contents of the letter, the Nigerian Army in a statement released by its spokesman, Brigadier General Sani Usman on Monday, said that the Chief of Army Staff (COAS), Nigerian Army, Lieutenant General Tukur Buratai, has dispatched a special message of assurance, encouragement and commendation to troops of the Nigerian Army engaged in various operations both within and outside the country.
According to Usman, the development was contained in a letter sent to various formations and corps commanders, as well as commanders of the various training institutions of the Nigerian Army on Sunday November 5, 2017.
He said, “In the letter, Lieutenant General Buratai showered encomiums on the troops for the unflinching loyalty, perseverance, courage and dedication to duty which brought about the desired success in the fight against terrorism, insurgency and other criminal activities.
“He also paid glowing tribute to those troops stationed outside the shores of our great nation.
“The COAS has also assured troops especially those on Operation LAFIYA DOLE of their welfare. This is coming from the good news of the release of funds for the payment of operational allowances and logistics for the Third Quarter 2017 from the Ministry of Defence. He further stated that this would facilitate the payment of operational allowances owed to them for the last 2 months this week accordingly.
“The COAS while thanking them for their patriotism, patience and understanding, further reiterated that he will ensure that as usual, all funds meant for the troops and the Operation LAFIYA DOLE will always be paid promptly when received from the appropriate ministries.
“He further stated that the Nigerian Army High Command under his leadership will continue to remain responsible, responsive and accountable to troops’ operational requirements”.
This is not the first time the hierarchy of the Nigerian military, especially the Army is being accused of corruption, or ignoring the welfare issues of soldiers in the battle fields.
Recall earlier in the year, Ripples Nigeria reported of Nigerian soldiers who had taken part in United Nations peace keeping missions in different part of the world being denied their allowances.
Findings revealed that the funds had been paid to the Nigerian defense officials, but almost a year after concluding the missions and putting their lives on the line, soldiers and officers involved were yet to receive such allowances.