Nigerian Army reacts to video showing soldiers begging for food while battling Boko Haram

FILE PHOTO: Nigerian Soldiers
FILE PHOTO: Nigerian Soldiers

A video of Nigerian soldiers making a passionate appeal for food and beverages while combating Boko Haram insurgents surfaced on the Internet Tuesday.

The footage, first posted on YouTube from where it was circulated to other platforms throughout Tuesday and early Wednesday, provoked immediate social media reaction and highlighted the scale of cover-up of the precarious situation of the troops by the Nigerian Army.

The Army authorities were quick to push back against the video and its content, describing them as dated and “mischievous.”

The video, nearly three minutes in length, showed dozens of gaunt, famished-looking soldiers queuing for appearances on camera to decry their situation and appeal for support.

The scene played out shortly after the troops fought and reclaimed Alargano, hitherto a major Boko Haram stronghold, from the terrorists in April this year.

president-buhari-jets-out-to-germanyThe soldiers who appeared on the video echoed inadequate supply of food, water and other essentials, calling on President Muhammadu Buhari to immediately intervene and save them from starving to death.

In his response, the acting spokesman for the Army, Sani Usman, added that the “matter was conclusively investigated at the time.”

Mr. Sani said a board of inquiry constituted by the Army found that “the unit’s water tanker still contained water, but a soldier mischievously concealed it.”

Consequently, “that soldier was charged and punished accordingly.”

But the statement was silent on the name of the officer who concealed the supplies for troops.

Mr. Sani did not immediately respond to PREMIUM TIMES request for more details about the incident and its aftermath Wednesday morning —especially over whether the Army made the findings of its panel of enquiry public which should contain the names of the officers penalised and the severity of their punishment.

Yet, the video confirmed an aspect of this newspaper’s exclusive reports about a mutiny that nearly resulted in the assassination of the General Officer Commanding of the Nigerian Army 7 Division at Maimalari Canton, Maiduguri.

The troops were attached to “Operation Rescue Finale” launched earlier this month to dislodge Boko Haram insurgents from Sambisa Forest — a massive reserve which has long been occupied by the terrorists— and rescue civilians trapped there.

The soldiers, mostly of the Nigerian Army 21 Brigade in Bama, rioted early Friday after surviving from 9:00 a.m. on December 14 till 6:00 p.m. on December 15 — more than 24 hours — without food.

When the GOC, Victor Ezegwu, eventually arrived in a helicopter bearing food and other supplies on Friday morning, the troops swooped on him and scavenged the snacks, food and water he brought. They removed all the supplies, including parts for operational vehicles and other equipment, before moving towards the GOC in an attempt to attack him, our sources said.

PREMIUM TIMES also reported that the tumult came eight months after a similar situation played out in Alargano.

At the time, troops fighting to take control of the town attempted to kill their GOC after they were left for five days without water, this newspaper reported based on information obtained from top-level military sources.

Just as it did on the latest provocative video, the Army quickly denied our story then and even uploaded pictures on the Internet depicting the troops being at home with Mr. Ezegwu.

Over the past year, Army authorities have drawn criticism for its unwavering approach of denying any news report about happenings on the battlefront even when they’re fully cognisant of its accuracy and veracity.

For weeks, the Army pushed back against a PREMIUM TIMES’s exclusive series about how some soldiers drowned and scores went missing in a Boko Haram attack in Gashigar, northern Borno, only to launch probe of the incident and later send out notifications to victim’s families across the country.

The perennial denial is in line with what appears a strategy of the Buhari administration to pronounce Boko Haram out of existence.

Mr. Buhari has maintained that Boko Haram has been defeated, even as Boko Haram attacks on civilian and military personnel continued.

But the troops said their commanders are to blame for their alleged refusal to give the president a clear picture of the situation on the battlefield.


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  • Ceejay Iloelunachi

    I really dont believe the account of the military on this. I mean- “the unit’s water tanker still contained water, but a soldier mischievously concealed it. Consequently, that soldier was charged and punished accordingly.”
    The question is why would an officer deliberately do that to his fellow combatants and what would his motive be? Except they are telling us the officer is apologetic to Boko haram or that he infiltrated their ranks. I really don’t believe the army on this. I think they are trying to deflate the report.

  • Gary

    Problems are never solved by denying them nor wars by fanciful claims of victory.
    The Army obviously has a big issue with logistical support for the frontline troops fighting Biko Haram. Food and weapons must be simultaneously deployed to accompany advancing troops into battle. It’s unconscionable that our fighting men are going hungry in addition to risking their lives for the rest of us. Even prisoners don’t go hungry or without access to water for twenty-four hours. That will be cruel and unusual punishment.

    Is there just ONE thing that can be done right in Nigeria these days?

  • I’m flabbergasted and disappointed. All the officers responsible for the miseries of these brave young soldiers should be court-marshalled.

  • thusspokez

    Discipline and then sack them all
    I think that all participants in the food protest video should be dismissed from the army. Besides the protest, why were some of them carrying mobile phones? Are Nigerian soldiers allowed to take mobile phones to battle front?

    Nigerian never learn from their error
    The Nigerian army has come under world-wide criticisms for its abuse of human rights, but its would seem that its generals have made no attempt to ban videoing maltreatment of prisoners and disrespect to the dead.

    Army training doesn’t seem to be hard enough
    What will these ill-trained solders do if in a wider war, they are cut off by an enemy for weeks or months, from contact, and sources of food and ammunition? Is low ration and even going without food, not part of any army’s training?

    I seem to have read how some Nigerian soldiers who served in Burma had gone for days and even weeks without food. German, Russian, Japanese soldiers all faced starvation during the second world war. These mediocre Nigerian soldiers, should they miss a day’s meal, would undoubtedly go begging the enemy to take them prisoners in return for a hot meal. What a disgraceful behaviour! Indeed, they are a disgrace to Nigeria. They weren’t starving, because if they were, they would eat the dead captives we see in the video — just ask any old soldier what had faced real starvation in a war.

    • Wetin Naija

      How many days can you go without food and water in a hot sun?

      • thusspokez

        These are supposedly professional soldiers — not you and I. Soldiers often go without enough food for days during battles.

    • Otile

      Don’t blame the victim. Can you fight? It is easy for you to hide there in London, holdings your white girlfriend tight and blame the boys. Come back and fight for 5 days let us see.

      First of all why not ask yourself what these boys are fighting for. Your masters used Boko Haram to shift power to the North, now they are fighting to get rid of Boko boys thereby putting our boys in harms way. The sensible thing for the boys is to save their lives, let Boko boys advance to Abuja and capture your masters alive.

      • Mufu Ola

        Your comment is childish.Especially d first segment.

    • serubawon70

      I wish to salute your courage to say the truth even if it is unpopular. The society in which we live is not only lacking in exposure and sophistication but totally bereft of basic culture of discipline. Selflessness is seen as a foreign virtue, admired only in a foreigner like Mandela. In Nigeria he would have probaly been ridiculed for abandoning his family to suffer for his principle

      • thusspokez

        I wish to salute your courage to say the truth even if it is unpopular.

        Well, I try to remain authentic to my philosophy — Yes, I am guided by my philosophy –; and my opinions are often after a lengthy deliberation within myself. Sadly, this way of thinking and viewing the world is alien to some Nigerians who see everything through the prism of ethnicity, religion, politics; and think that everyone things and should think as they do.

    • Mufu Ola

      Your very matured observation is what I’m just thinking b4 reading your comment. The soldiers may have some points about their conditions but why were they videotaping their colleagues? They were not even trying to revive them i.e. if those pics were not stagemanaged in d first case. Trying to fan somebody with hands is silly. The whole scene seem suspicious to me.

  • Arogbo

    This is totally unbeliavable. The COAS and the brigade commander should resign immediately. Why should these young men who are the first line of defense against Boko Haram be treated this way? This is terrible!

  • Wetin Naija

    The trademark of Nigeria Army is “lies and denial” No one can ever trust the Nigeria Army. It is a shame that an institution like Nigeria is known for denial and lies.

  • Julius

    Their commanding officers should be demoted and sent to the front. Nonsense !! This is what was going on under Jonathan. At that time, it was food and arms . These issues should have been solved by now. We are talking about these brave men putting their lives on the line and protecting us. No, somebody need to answer some questions.

    • Really

      No No No, you should answer the questions.

      -Sai Baba-

      • Julius

        I should answer the question ? Moron, it will never happen if I was there in the first place. Maybe you need to answer the questions because you will tell us any minute from now that your were a General in the biafraud army and nothing like that ever happened. Jack-ass !

  • serubawon70

    Battles can not be won if the soldiers are starving. But soldier are suuposed to be trained in the art of survival to be used when the situation arises. Food and sleep deprivation are part of the hazards a soldier should be prepared to encounter. War front is no party.