Overstayed Troops In Nigeria’s Boko Haram Belt: Their Touching Letter And The Need To Be Calm

The Oasis Reporters

January 11, 2020

Currently circulating in the social media is an open letter of warning from seemingly frustrated troops in the North East. They say they have overstayed without being changed, either because they have been too good at the job, or other more privileged troops are being shielded from going to the war front.

Either way, the military should as a matter of urgency, look into their plight.
Indeed, many have lost their families. This is not right. The government should step in. Let the failure of the North East not bring the entire fabric of the Nigerian society down.

Their letter:

LETTER OF WARNING ABOUT OVERSTAYED TROOPS HERE IN NORTHEAST

FROM :
Soldiers of 159 Tank Battalion
Geidam sector 2 Yobe state.

TO:
UN
OAU
MR. PRESIDENT, FEDERAL REPUBLIC OF NIGERIA
NATIONAL, HOUSES OF ASSEMBLY
NATIONAL HOUSE OF REP.
OFFICE OF THE CDS
AHQ
DATOP
NAAC
NAAS
7DIV
HUMAN RIGHTS and
GREAT NIGERIANS.

It is with pain we are writing to you. We wish to bring to your notice that we have overstayed here in the Northeast.

We were inducted in this operation on 10th July 2016 to fight Boko Haram insurgency after spending a year in Liberia. We were dislodged in Kanama 21st December 2016, dislodged in Geidam 23rd January 2017, then dislodged again 23rd February 2017 and later repelled it. Presently, we are covering the following locations Buratai, Dapchi, Bamari and Kannama to Niger border.

Sir, this is our 3rd year in the battlefront fighting and we have not been changed from this operation. The other Battalions we came with and even the Battalion we came before them have been withdrawn even battalions in Maiduguri axis. We are the oldest Infantry Battalion in the Northeast and they don’t want to change us. We have complained to the COAS and he promised to rotate us. He even told our families the same thing but till now nothing has been done or said about it. We are from different units like 1 Battalion, Nigerian Army Birnin Kebbi. We don’t know if the COAS order is no more effective or if there are particular battalions that are meant to fight Boko Haram. If Northeast is like the UN operation, a place where there is money, we would have been changed after 6 months or, at most 1year and it would have been based on godfatherism, but now we have been forgotten here.

Since we have been here, this is the second President, the second Senate, the 2nd CDS, the 2nd COAS, the 5th Theatre commander, the 5th 7div GOC, the 6th Brigade commander, the 4th Commanding Officer and the 5th acting CO that we have worked under and none of them have the human feelings of changing our Battalion from this Northeast even those senior officers that requested for our names, success and glory have forgotten us so soon after using us to achieve their aims and objectives. They have abandoned us like a shepherd who doesn’t value his sheep. After telling us to fight, we obeyed like we don’t have lives just to fight for our country and bring back peace, victory and honor to our beloved Father land Nigeria through the Nigeria Army. But we get back suffering and rejection in return. When we were advancing, all eyes were on us, our Battalion was the talk of the Nigeria Defence, Army Headquarters, Armoured HQ even internationally, but look at us today being rejected and abandoned with nothing to show for it. Since we came to this operation; No changes, no more special promotion, no Issuing of uniform and boot, no issuing of Army kits and combat kits. We end up buying it with our money, no good feeding, we are fed like slaves, even the Boko Haram under custody feed better than us. All we get in return for hard work is more work.

I still want to let all of you to know that, the soldiers of 159Tank Battalion are now suffering from Depression, stress, lack of feeding, poor admin, family problems, psychological trauma, no special promotion, low morale and above all, we have overstayed.

We are begging the President, the FG, CDS and COAS to look into our case because our homes have scattered and some of our children don’t know us because we’ve been home only four times. We have been on pass in 3yrs, they see us as strangers, some of our parents died of BP because of the situation on the ground and the news they listen to everyday. The ladies we want to marry have left us because they are tired of waiting on empty promises of we coming back. Some people are afraid to give us their daughters to marry because they don’t know when we are coming back. We have lost a lot. Please, we want the Army to come and change us before it will be too late.

I remember the COAS said, soldiers are not willing to fight, how can soldiers be willing to fight with this condition of overstay, no special promotion as welfare, no good feeding. The COAS has no integrity and human feelings, no effective order in the sense have been taken and no one has come to our aid.

Any Brigade commander and CO that come will want to use us, make their money and go, they will be deceiving us that they are fighting for our changes of which is a big lie. A CO is supposed to stay in a battalion for 1year but we have spent more than 3yrs. All the officers that came with us have gone but we are still here. We are really tired of this place, we want to go back to our unit and meet our families.

To the Governors, Senators and Representatives of Yobe state, this is a warning to you all before your people will start running back from their homes because we are no more happy and we are ready to leave the LGA we are covering should attack comes

.

Please, we urge Nigerians to help us share our pains, put your legs in our shoes, imagine we are your father, husband, brother, uncle, lover, in-law, friends, classmates, relatives and neighbors, how will you feel, we beg you all to help us by sharing it in all the social media you know that is the only way you can fight for us.

Thanks for your concern and support”.

The anonymous letter that has been circulating in the media, really calls for concern and concerted effort from all to set things right. While we urge the government to do something, we equally urge our gallant troops to hold the line. This morning because we all need our country. Please don’t quit in a panic. Nigeria must never succumb to insecurity. Soldiers be calm, while we let the government see this and correct what needs to be corrected.

Thank you, our brethren in the front line.

Greg Abolo

Blogger at The Oasis Reporters.

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