In a desperate letter to President Goodluck Jonathan and Senate President David Mark leaked to SaharaReporters this past weekend, a commanding officer stationed in Nigeria’s northeast details several troubling issues plaguing troops combatting Islamist terror group Boko Haram in the region.
Below is the full text of the officer’s letter addressed to President Goodluck Jonathan
PLEASE MR PRESIDENT SAVE THE MILITARY AND NIGERIA FROM COLLAPSING
- Sir, I am constrain to write you this letter which I consider it a matter of more than great importance for me to inform you and put to record issues that are happening in the North East (Operation Zaman Lafiya). I choose this medium to write you this open letter because I have written similar letter but no action was taking which I believe some forces have blocked it are now after my life. Sir I have served in 7 Division as staff officer and presently I am the commanding officer of 103Bn in the field. My combined wealth of experience as a staff officer and now commanding officer are the disturbing fact that necessitated me to write you this letter. While as a staff officer, I was among those who believed that the commanders in the field are not doing well. But presently, as a commander in the field, I found out that it is not the fault of any commander that the defeat of the so called BOKO HARAM (BH) has not been achieved.
- First and foremost sir, the Nigerian Army is poorly equipped in the North East, if all the battalions are well-equipped as required; it will not take the Army more than two weeks to flush out the BH. Presently there are four units in my location here in KONDUGA including 21 Armoured Brigade HQ. If all the units are provided with all their requirements, we can advance and flush out BH out of North East. Mr. President sir, the Nigerian Army is well-trained and capable of defending our nation. It has demonstrated the capacity to even successfully enforce peace in other nations. Why not in our own country Nigeria?
- The fact about NE operation is that we are poorly equipped, understaffed, high corruption from Army Headquarters down to battalion level. Commanders see it as opportunity to make money. My predecessor has complained of the same problem. Instead of ASA addressing the issue raised by him, the army authorities decided to Court Martialled him. All the units in NE are understaffed, but on payroll their strength are complete just to collect more allowances than what each unit is supposed to. The commanders see it as a personal money making venture rather than taking care of men and equipment. This ugly trend led to loss of many officers and soldiers and thereby having adverse effect on the moral (sic) of troops. Majority of soldiers in the operation area wear mufti (civil cloths) under their military uniforms in case there is an attack and the troops cannot withstand the BH, they found it easy to disguise as civilians to enable them escape. This is not the traditional practice in the NA. Though it is lack of adequate equipment and poor administration from the higher authority that resulted to this ugly trend by our troops
- Sir, another bad and unprofessional act is that soldiers don’t take to orders from their superior officers because they have lost confidence/trust from them. The case of former General Officer Commanding 7 Division Major General A. Mohammed is enough evidence to show that all is not well in the Nigerian Army. It will interest you to note that worse cases has been recorded before that of the former GOC and more are still happening, but nobody is ready to investigate the root cause of problems facing the troops in the field.
- This brings me to a recent occurrence which is my main purpose of writing this letter. As I mentioned earlier, due to the failure of the authority to address issues that I made mentioned, when a unit is attacked and overran by the BH not because the soldiers are unable to fight, but lack of weapons, ammunitions and communications equipment, the soldiers on many occasions will ran away, and a commander cannot stand and fight alone as a result of this. Presently seventy percent of commanders in the NE are facing Court Martial due to the reasons mentioned. We the commanding officers are very worried over this development. This is because we many soon find our self as victims of this maladministration from our higher authorities.
- There is no sincerity in this operation; this is because the present acting GOC has never visited any location outside Maiduguri town not to talk of principal staff officers in Army Headquarters or even the COAS. But we keep on hearing all sorts of lies that Generals are leading the fight against BH. These are facts that can be confirmed from officers and soldiers in this operation including those in the 7 Division Headquarters. The GOC is so afraid that even with the Divisional Headquarters; he doesn’t go out and always locked himself inside his office. Infact it is a common knowledge among officers and soldiers in this operation that the acting GOC is here to make his money and earn his promotion to the detriment of the operation. The completion of his mansion at No 8 Gwamna Road in Kaduna which the GOC ignorantly disclosed that when he completed it, will be among the best houses in Kaduna, has turned to be a subject of discussion among troops.
- The former 21 Armored Brigade commander is facing Court Martial today because the acting GOC does not want to see him and his garrision in Maiduguri town simply because of the huge monthly allocations from the Borno State government to the brigade garrision. He wanted to be collecting his money by using 7 Div Garrison, but in reality 7 Div Garrision does not have troops to claim such money. It is worthy to note that the GOC received 33,000litres of AGO and PMS each, 600 bags of rice monthly from Borno State government. All these items are diverted for his personal use.
- Recently the newly appointed 21 Brigade commander lead 3 units to flush out the BH, that operation was successful, almost 300 BH were killed, weapons and vehicles were recovered from them, in the process the troops exhausted their ammunitions from the Div, the GOC simply replied that there was no ammunition this made all the troops to withdraw back to KONDUGA.
- Presently more than 3000 officers and soldiers are either killed in action, deserted, captured as POW or on AWOL. But due to lack of proper administration the army directed that their salary should be stopped. This affect the families of those that are either genuinely killed in action or captured as Prisoners of War. It has also affected some of the troops that are still participating in this operation.
- Mr. President sir, if all issues raised in this letter are not urgently address, the Nigerian Army will soon be history and by implication there will be no country called Nigeria. No country without strong army will survive. I decided to write you this letter because the life of officers and soldiers trusted in my care are no longer save. My life is also at the stake because the NA authority as usual will say I have communicated directly to you as the Commander in Chief of the Armed Forces and may sanction me. As a citizen of this country and a commander in the operational area, with all the points I have mentioned in this letter, it is clearly that the Military authorities have failed the country, as such they should be held liable for their misdeeds. I have consulted seasonal constitutional lawyers if writing you this letter will be an offence, but they said it is my constitutional right to inform the C in C about what is happening in the NE and within the military which if not address will affect the survival of Nigeria.
With all these letters flying about and the political brouhaha we are currently experiencing, I am here sited and asking, “which way Nigeria?”