According to a report by SaharaReporters, soldiers deployed for counterinsurgency operations in Borno State, northeast Nigeria have lamented that those who are to relieve them three months after they were asked to leave the battlefield have yet to resume.
According to them, some of their colleagues have been killed, injured and abducted after they were officially redeployed away from the bush but had to stay because of the politics in the Nigerian Army.
They added that some of them have overstayed their mission and had not been allowed to enjoy any break in nearly five years.
The soldiers complained that they are being forced to confront Boko Haram militants, adding that their low morale and lack of willingness to continue to fight made it possible for terrorists to dislodge some military camps recently.
They asked why the army commanders had refused to send those expected to relieve them to the battlefield three months after rotation.
“Some of us were deployed to fight Boko Haram and have been here for over 5 years without rotation. About 3 months ago, our rotation eventually came but the soldiers who were supposed to relieve us haven't been sent to their locations.
“Which means the soldiers that have been there since, haven't been released and they haven't reported to their new post. Right now, the soldiers fighting Boko Haram are just here, for three months, those to replace us are yet to come.
“We were told they are at the military base in Maiduguri, but they refused to move them down to the battlefield. The CO claimed he was waiting for directives from corps headquarters before he'd rotate them.
“Imagine, while those that were supposed to have left the battlefield are still fighting the battle because the CO in Maiduguri just kept the new soldiers in his base,” a soldier told SaharaReporters.
There have been allegations of corruption in the Nigerian Army which some of the soldiers have blamed on the issue – soldiers overstaying in the North-East.
According to some soldiers, the Nigerian Army is the epitome of deep-seated corruption. They noted that the corruption is affecting the prosecution of the North-East anti-terrorism war.
In January, the Nigerian Army released the names of over 2, 000 soldiers who were to be redeployed and some soldiers alleged that they were not rotated to other areas over their refusal to give bribes.
Speaking with SaharaReporters at the time, some soldiers alleged that there was misconduct in the Nigerian Army as some of the soldiers, who had come at a later time, including those mobilised to the area in 2019, still made the list of overstayed soldiers while some of those who had been mobilised since 2016 could not find their names on the list.
They claimed that some of the commanders refused to submit their names for rotation because of their “refusal to pay money.”