Soldiers attached to the 333 Artillery Regiment in Maiduguri, and serving under the newly established 37 Brigade, have beaten up their Acting Brigade Commander, Colonel O.U. Obono for allegedly slapping one of them, reliable defence sources have toldPREMIUM TIMES.
Sources, who witnessed the incident but asked not to be named for their own safety, told PREMIUM TIMES the incident occurred on Monday, September 4 at the 333 Battalion parade ground while the soldiers were on night roll call, known as tatoon in military parlance.
The sources said the soldiers became angry and attacked the officer after he announced the deployment of the soldiers to various special operations in Borno state shortly after their return from a peacekeeping operation in Mali.
“Trouble started when Colonel Obono decided to deploy the Soldiers, and the boys were annoyed because they were supposed to go on ‘disembarkation leave’ for two weeks having just returned from Mali, and they began to show open contempt, the Colonel then slapped one of them and they now became agitated and beat him up,” one of our sources, a defence insider, said.
He said the officer became especially agitated and slapped a soldier “because he had the audacity to ask for the troop’s “mission allowance”.
He said the troops started returning to the country from Mali on July 31, but were not allowed to proceed on leave before being deployed for the anti-Boko Haram operation in Maiduguri.
We also gathered that apart from the soldier, Colonel Obono also slapped a Major Idris for trying to restrain him from physically attacking his junior colleagues.
Another military source said the Military Police, the discipline enforcement unit of the army, already commenced investigation into the incident, adding that what the Colonel did was ‘against military tradition’.
PREMIUM TIMES learnt that Colonel Obono, with Army number N/8306 was appointed acting commander of the newly established 37 Brigade Maiduguri on August, 20 via memo with Reference No. AHQ/MS/G1/300/207/1.
The spokesperson for the Army, Major General Ibrahim Attahiru, wouldn’t comment for this story. He did not answer or return calls to his mobile telephone for two weeks running. He also did not respond to three text messages sent to him on separate days.