At least 356 Nigerian soldiers fighting Boko Haram in northeastern Nigeria have reportedly requested retirement citing “loss of interest,” Sahara Reporters revealed on Sunday.
In a letter to Nigerian Chief of Army Staff Tukur Buratai, the soldiers reportedly “asked for approval to leave the Nigeria Army due to low morale.” Buratai granted the soldiers’ request in a written reply, saying he “has approved the voluntary and medical discharge of the … [soldier who wrote the letter], and 385 others listed.”
“The soldiers are to proceed on terminal leave December 3, 2020, while their disengagement date takes effect from January 3, 2021, in accordance with the Nigerian Army Administrative Policy,” Buratai reportedly wrote. Sahara Reporters claimed to have obtained access to the letter.
Nigerian soldiers have long suffered mass casualties at the hands of Boko Haram terrorists “due to [a] lack of a robust intelligence apparatus and also lack of equipment … further compounded by poor welfare for them and their families by the army,” according to the report.
In recent months, Boko Haram has staged a resurgence in northeastern Nigeria’s Borno State, the group’s historic stronghold. The terrorists have taken advantage of restrictions on movement during the Chinese coronavirus pandemic to launch strategic attacks on villages and state military units throughout the region.
On June 12, Sahara Reporters revealed that Boko Haram abducted a Nigerian soldier and three others, including a police officer, from a military checkpoint outside Gasarwa Village in Borno State. According to the report, “[t]he soldier and policeman, who [were both] executed in a video a day after their abduction, spoke about their identity before their gruesome killing.”
In the video, the two men identify themselves as members of Nigeria’s security forces and say they were ambushed and captured by insurgents they describe as “Tilafa army.”
“I am … Lance Corporal Emmanuel Oscar, I was captured by Tilafa’s along Maiduguri to Monguno,” the soldier said.
“My name is Yohanah Kilus, I am a policeman, my rank is inspector. I was abducted between Maiduguri and Monguno; I am presently in the custody of Tilafa soldiers,” the policeman said.
The Nigerian Army has failed to acknowledge the executions “to this day,” according to the report.
On June 23, Nigerian Army Lance Corporal Martins released a video in which he criticized Buratai and other Nigerian security chiefs for “abandoning troops on the war front,” according to Sahara Reporters. The Nigerian Army arrested Martins and his wife shortly after the video’s release. Martins’ arrest was carried out “on the orders of Buratai,” sources told the news outlet.
Sahara Reporters is a news outlet based on citizen journalism, founded by Nigerian human rights activist Omoyele Sowore, who was detained last year by the Nigerian government for alleged crimes associated with his site’s investigative journalism.