Some soldiers fighting Boko Haram terrorists in Borno State have sent a Save-Our-Soul (SOS) to President Muhammadu Buhari and the Chief of Army Staff (COAS), Lt. Gen. Tukur Buratai over alleged embezzlement by one of their top officials.
But the Army Headquarters has assured the allegations would be investigated despite stating the aggrieved soldiers went about their complaints wrongly.
According to the petition, the top official allegedly siphoned their welfare and allowances and refused to pay cigarette allowances since January despite a signal from the Nigerian Army (NA), notifying them of the introduction of N200 monthly cigarette allowance.
The aggrieved soldiers alleged that instead of N24, 000 welfare allowance, including N12, 000 given them by the COAS, the official only paid them N12, 000.
“The only money he paid is the N12000 welfare given to us by COAS. Other battalions under the Theatre Command Operation Lafiya Dole have already paid their soldiers N24, 000 including the N12000 of COAS,” they said.
The soldiers also alleged that the official exposes them to danger by refusing to send vehicles and escorts to Maiduguri to bring back soldiers who went on pass, a tradition, they said previous COs upheld.
“He said the way and manner you enter civilians’ vehicles to the camp is none of his business and any soldier that fails to return to camp with civilian vehicle on the expiration of his pass will have N800 per day deducted from his money.
“Sir, could you believe that he deducted N800 from each soldier that returned from pass last time from the N12,000 given to us by COAS, which some soldiers refused to collect the remaining of the money till now?
“Right before the increment of Operations allowances, our previous COs used to give us at the end of every month: one pack of sugar, 12 sachets of chocolate and 12 eggs. Immediately he took over command, he said he is not going to give us any ‘looking good’ again – that it’s costly.
“We do not go to town pass anymore and it takes each soldier seven to eight months before going on normal pass.
“Sir, we will be happy and our low morale will be highly motivated if you look into our pains and treat accordingly,” they stated.
Contacted, the Army Operations Media Media Coordinator Colonel Aminu Iliyasu said there were laid down channels for such grievances to be reported.
He said: “The soldiers chose the wrong approach in voicing their alleged grievances. There are laid down procedures in the NA to complain and they know it.
“That notwithstanding, the army will investigate the allegations once it gets the petition.
“A Board of Inquiry will be set up to probe these claims and if substantiated, be assured sanctions will be meted in line with provisions of the Armed Forces Act.
“The Nigerian Army views such issues seriously and cannot hide anything.”