AS many as 356 soldiers have written to the chief of army staff Lt General Tukur Buratai demanding voluntary retirement citing a loss of interest as their reason for wanting disengagement from the Nigerian Army.
Since 2009, the Nigerian Army has been battling terrorist sect Boko Haram in the northeast of the country, leading to thousands of deaths among the troops. In other parts of the country, the Nigerian Army is also facing a major threat from heavily armed Fulani cattle herdsmen as well as from murderous bandits in north west Nigeria.
Badly equipped and not motivated, these 356 soldiers write to General Buratai on July 3, quoting the Harmonised Terms and Conditions of Service for Soldiers/Ratings/Airmen 2017. In a 17-page circular, General Buratai has accepted their disengagement and sent a copy of his acceptance to the headquarters, Theatre Command, Operation Lafiya Dole, Borno State and all other formations.
Military sources attributed the development to a loss of morale, poor weapons, unimproved allowances and the continuous loss of soldiers to Boko Haram attacks. Since the beginning of 2020, Boko Haram onslaughts on military locations in the northeast have also intensified with large casualties on the part of troops of the Nigerian Army.
In March, Nigeria’s defence headquarters said 47 soldiers were killed by a bomb explosion triggered by Boko Haram in Gorigi near Allargano Forest in Borno State. In the same month, the army confirmed losing three soldiers while others were injured in a Boko Haram attack in the Damboa Local Government Area of Borno State.
In May, the insurgents also attacked an army location belonging to the 156 Battalion in the Mainok area with at least 10 gun trucks, killing five soldiers, while others were injured. In June, the Boko Haram terrorists became emboldened and shot dead an acting commanding officer of the army, Major K Yakubu, during a gun battle in the Doron Naira and Magaji areas of Borno State.
Apparently, the 356 soldiers who applied for voluntary retirement citing loss of interest are Master Warrant Officers, Warrant Officers, Staff Sergeants, Sergeants, Lance Corporals, Corporals and Privates. The total number of soldiers on the list of voluntary disengagement is 380, with 356 citing a loss of interest and 24 leaving to take a traditional title.
General Buratai said: “The soldiers are to proceed on terminal leave on December 3, 2020, while their disengagement date takes effect from January 3, 2021, in accordance with the Nigerian Army Administrative Policy and Procedures. Accordingly, I am directed to request formations and units to release all affected soldiers to report at the headquarters, garrison, with their unit service documents for documentation.”
He added that all forms of military-controlled items, arms, ammunition and items of combat kits are to be recovered from the soldiers prior to their disengagement date. Recently, Nigerian soldiers have appeared in viral videos complaining about the poor quality of their fighting equipment in the northeast and how Boko Haram terrorists are able to attack and kill troops due to alleged insiders’ connivance.