The 3032 soldiers who were forgiven last August for committing different crimes during the battle against the Islamic terrorist group, Boko Haram, in the North East of Nigeria, have rejected their deployment fight Boko Haram, Vanguard reports.
All 3032 soldiers declined the posting to the war fronts saying that they were never really pardoned and re-integrated into the Army, rather, they were re-sentenced to battle the much feared insurgents and put their lives at risk. The soldiers complained that they have not been fully re-instated into the Nigerian Army as they have not been given re-instatement letters.
The soldiers also hinted that since they have been ejected from the barracks, they have not received any payment in form of salary for seven months and this has made their families who now reside outside barracks resort to begging for food.
There was massive nervous disorder at the Command and Staff College, Nigerian Army School of Infantry, NASI, Jaji, Kaduna state, when over 3,000 soldiers – who claimed to have been made to face gruesome-treatment after their pardon – were rallied round by the Commandant of NASI, Major General Kassim Aldulkareem, to inform them that they have been given new riffles and should be ready for deployment to the war fronts on the 11 January, 2016.
The Commandant quickly fled the scene when soldiers were becoming uncontrollable.
According to the sources, the soldiers cried,
We are not going! Give us re-instatement letters! You are sentencing us back to war.”
One of the soldiers who spoke to some newsmen on grounds said:
Look at me; I have put in about 28 years of my life serving this country. I have seen action in Liberia; I have been to Rwanda, Sudan and even served overseas and we the Nigerian troops did very well and were decorated in some occasions.
But, our experience in fighting to save our motherland is too sad a story for the outside world to know. We are not cowards. We held on for over four months facing Boko Haram.
I just want to say that after the Army dismissed about 5,000 of us, 3032 of us were pardoned last August. Since that time, the Army Authority has treated us like prisoners of wars.
We were told to assemble in Jaji on August 17, which we did. Then on August 19, the General Officer Commander, GOC, of 1st Infantry Division, Maj. Gen Adeniyi Oyebade gathered us and without prior noticed moved us to Nigerian Army training Centre, NATRAC, Kontogora. Some of us found ourselves there in bathroom slippers. We were just taken straight to the place. Then, without any additional clothes or uniform, we were subjected to what was clear punishment, not training for another three weeks.
Still in the clothes we came, we were again relocated to 333 artillery Barracks, Njetilo, Maiduguri. We got nothing but constant insults as cowards. We were there without uniforms no arms. They just left us there and we were abused and told to assemble at every two hours through these days for another three weeks.
In Jaji, we went through another round of punishment, not training. Yet, we were not given any letter to show that we are still serving soldiers.
So when the Commandant came and said we were going back to the North East, without clearing our status, we felt we have been punished enough.”