The Nigeria Army at the Rukuba Barracks in Jos, Plateau State, has dismissed about 200 soldiers from service for their failure to capture the Sambisa Forest, a notorious hideout for Boko Haram terrorists in Borno State.
They were dismissed for laxity and cowardice in the course of duty.
One of the affected soldiers, Aguloye Sunday, an indigene of Ondo State, who confirmed the dismissal to journalists in Jos, said they were arraigned on a two-count charge of “failure to perform military duty and disobedience to standing order.”
He, however, argued that they would seek redress in court as the charges pressed against him and his colleagues were “untrue, false and malicious.”
Denying the claim by the army authorities that the soldiers abandoned their duties and ran away, Mr Sunday explained that sufficient weapons were not provided for them to fight the terrorists and, therefore, they ran out of weapons.
He also said the weapons provided for the troops were obsolete.
According to him, “the bombs given to us were made in 1964; they were expired, so we could not use them.
“Each of us was given five bullets, not five rounds, to fire. While in the forest, our biggest weapon was to cover just a distance of 400 meters, but our enemy had aircraft weapons that could cover a distance of more than 1,000 metres, aside other dangerous weapons.
“We only retreated to our base and waited in vain for ammunition for three days.”
Meanwhile, Nigerian Army has said the figure being bandied was incorrect and that no dismissals were pre-planned by the Army High Command.
Acting Director, Army Public Relations, Col. S. K. Usman, in a statement, said: “On disciplinary action being taken against some soldiers for cowardice and desertion in the face of enemies, especially as regards the fight against Boko Haram terrorists, most of the stories and figure being peddled are far from accurate.
“Disciplinary processes or trials are never done with prior intention to dismiss anyone in the Nigerian Army. The only intention is to dispense justice and even at that, due process is normally followed.”