• Says insurgents have been ‘’decapitated’’
Iyobosa Uwugiaren in Abuja
The federal government has dismissed as unfounded, the allegations that troops fighting against insurgency in the North-east were underpaid and subjected to hunger.
The Minister of Information and Culture, Alhaji Lai Mohammed, said yesterday that the claims were found to be untrue, following the conclusion of investigation ordered by President Muhammadu Buhari to establish the veracity of claims that troops were fighting Boko Haram in deplorable conditions.
He also said Boko Haram, which started like local issue had taken international dimension, stating however that the terrorist group had been ‘’decapitated.’’
‘’Today, Boko Haram is being funded by ISIS and other terrorist groups. But the federal government has decapitated Boko Haram. There was a time when Abuja was not safe. But it is no longer the same.
‘’There was a time many local governments were under the control of Boko Haram. That has changed; we are sure we have curtained the deadly activities of Boko Haram.
‘’There was a time banks, schools, telecommunications were closed — in 2015. But it is no longer the same’’, the minister added.
On the welfare of the troops, the federal government’s spokesman said it is laughable to say that the troops are being paid N500 per day.
Mohammed said in view of the grave security implication of the allegations contained in the publication, President Buhari ordered an investigation to determine its veracity.
“Gentlemen, the investigation has since been concluded and, in line with the transparent stance of this Administration, I have invited you here today to share with you the outcome. The summary of the findings is that there is no case of hunger, starvation or begging among the troops fighting in the North-East, and in particular in the Armed Forces Special Forces Battalion that was referenced in the publication.
‘’There is also no irregular/short payment of allowances, while claims of poor equipment, inadequate kitting and accommodation are found to be ill conceived and unfounded,” he said.
Mohammed said contrary to the allegation, the troops in question, deployed at Brig. Gen. Maimalari Secondary School along Gubio Road, are being fed centrally three times daily, and are kitted immediately after their training before they are deployed in the theatre.
According to him, “How then can soldiers who are fed centrally be starving or begging for food? Concerning the payment of allowances, the monthly allowances of troops of the AFSF Battalion are being paid directly into their various accounts from the Defence Headquarters, hence they cannot be shortchanged.”
On the allegation of poor equipment and inadequate kitting, the minister said it was found that the inflow of logistics into the theatre in the past six months showed an enormous quantity of materiel was distributed to troops in the theatre.
The Minister further explained, “If anything, the publication in question exhibited poor understanding of what obtains in the theatre of military operations.