Two dead, four wounded as another Nigerian soldier commits suicide

Nigerian soldiers used to illustrate the story.
Nigerian soldiers used to illustrate the story.

Another Nigerian Army soldier has committed suicide in Borno State.

Adegor Okpako, a staff sergeant attached to 192 Battalion in Gwoza, killed himself at about 2:50 p.m. Wednesday, PREMIUM TIMES learnt from military sources.

Mr Okpako also killed another sergeant colleague who was only identified as Saka.

Three soldiers and a member of the civilian joint task force were also seriously wounded in the random shooting by Mr Okpako, sources said.

Mr Okpako killed himself two days after returning to the battalion after taking a few days’ break. It was not immediately clear whether he was receiving treatment for post-traumatic stress disorder or any form of mental health crisis.

The spokespersons for the Defence Headquarters, the Nigerian Army and the counter-terrorism unit were all unavailable for comments late Wednesday.

But the Army tweeted shortly before 12 a.m. Thursday that the incident was a case of accidental discharge on Wednesday afternoon.

“Accidental discharge kills 2 soldiers. We deeply regret to announce the death of two soldiers of 192 Battalion who lost their lives as a result of an accidental discharge during in-theatre training today,” the Army said.

The statement said a thorough inquiry would be conducted to understand the source of the fatal attack.

Our sources however insisted that it was a suicide case as no training was going on when the incident occurred, contrary to the claim by the Army.

The plight of Nigerian soldiers engaging Boko Haram terrorists in Nigeria’s war-ravaged northeast appears to have worsened in recent months. Over 100 soldiers have been killed and as many feared missing since mid-July alone.

The frequency and scope of the latest Boko Haram assault have alarmed security analysts and residents in the region who feared the insurgents might have regrouped.

Several military bases have been raided in recent weeks, with terrorists making away with large quantities of military equipment in virtually every raid.

Experts also blame inadequate weapons and welfare for the troops for the losses being inflicted by the terrorists.

The Chief of Army Staff, Tukur Buratai, had paid unscheduled visits to the war front at least two times within the past six weeks.

Mr Buratai’s visits often focus on promising a better working condition and abundant supply or arms and ammunition in a bid to boost the morale of the troops. But it appeared that not every soldier was optimistic about the promises, a situation that may have contributed to the increasing number of mental health cases.

In November 2017, a soldier opened fire on a captain, killing him before turning the gun on himself.

The latest suicide comes three months after an Army captain committed suicide while under psychiatric evaluation in Borno State.

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