By Elohor Igbru
The full list of officers and men of the Nigerian Army fighting Boko Haram in Borno suspected to have deserted after a vicious Boko Haram attack on New Marte and Dikwa communities in February has been revealed.
At least 101 members of the army who reportedly made a tactical withdrawal after the attack have been declared deserters and the Army had ordered their arrest and freezing of their accounts.
The list of the missing officers include 13 Commissioned officers and 89 non-commissioned officers.
Boko Haram had attempted to retake the town of Marte but was repelled by the Nigerian troops before the insurgents succeeded in overpowering the soldiers who were forced to make a withdrawal to Dikwa.
The new Chief of Army Staff ( COAS), Major General Ibrahim Attahiru had in a show of solidarity visited the troops at the headquarters of Super Camp 9 in Dikwa and ordered them to retake Marte.
According to Daily Trust, a signal dated March 1, 2021 and originating from the headquarters of OP Lafiya Dole in Maiduguri had described the soldiers as deserters.
The signal was signed by A.O Odubiyi (Col) read in part: “I am directed to connect Reference A on above subject and to respectfully forward details of additional officers and soldiers who absconded from the defensive location during the BHT attack on New Marte and Dikwa.
“You are requested to declare the named officers and soldiers’ deserters WEF 19 Feb 21. You are also requested to cause HQ NAFC to freeze their accounts and apprehend/bring them under military escort to this Headquarters if seen within your AOR.”
Sources in Maiduguri told Infactng that rather than describe the officers as deserters, the army authorities under the new management should look at the circumstances that led to the so-called action of the soldiers.
The source also contended that the soldiers cannot be described as deserters for now but they are still missing in action. “ The military base was dislodged by the insurgents, anything could have happened to them, they might be dead or lost, we should get to the root of the matter before taking any action,” he said.
There have been concerns about the superior firepower of the insurgents, a situation which has led to the deaths of many soldiers and officers in the northeast.
“ These soldiers are fighting Boko Haram with bare hands,” the source contended. “ The weapons are nothing near what Boko Haram has and that should be a source of worry for the government. We must find where the weapons are coming from and who is behind it.”
In 2020, over 300 soldiers and officers resigned from the army, it was reported that the soldiers left in protest of the treatment they received and for lack of weapons with which to fight the insurgents. This claim has however been debunked by the army authorities.
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