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Nigeria Denies Reports of Soldiers Begging for Food: ‘No Case of Hunger, Starvation’

Nigerian Army soldiers prepare to leave Maiduguri in an armed convoy on the road to Damboa in Borno State, northeast Nigeria on March 25, 2016
AFP/File Stefan Heunis

The Nigerian government this week reportedly dismissed as “fake news” claims that deplorable conditions have driven soldiers deployed to the northeastern part of the African country to combat Boko Haram jihadists to beg for food.

Alhaji Lai Mohammed, the minister of information and culture in Nigeria, “debunked” the allegations on Tuesday, “describing it as a classic example of fake news,” the Daily Post reported.

Citing the results of an investigation into the claims ordered by Nigerian President Muhammadu Buhari, Mohammed reportedly said:

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 [AFSF] 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 later added:

The troops in question … are being fed centrally three times a day, and are kitted immediately after their training before they are deployed in the theatre. 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.

Nigerian forces are making great sacrifices for the country, Minister Mohammed proclaimed, urging the public to support and pray for them:

Recall, gentlemen, that a little over three months ago, precisely on July 11th, 2018, we launched a National Campaign Against Fake News.

At the launch, we said the campaign is to sensitize all Nigerians to the dangers posed to the peace and security, and indeed the corporate existence of Nigeria, by the phenomenon. We said that each and every. Nigerian has a role to play in curtailing the spread of fake news. We also said Nigerians should not share any information they cannot verify.

Despite the frequent attacks by Boko Haram jihadists, the Nigerian government alleges that it is winning the war against the Islamic State-linked terrorists.

The Nigerian government has falsely claimed victory over Boko Haram on several occasions.

“Today, we can say confidently that not an inch of our territory is under the control of Boko Haram. They have been repelled even from their spiritual headquarters,” the minister declared, once again claiming that the Buhari administration has decimated the terrorist group’s capacity to carry out spectacular attacks.

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