Some Nigerian soldiers in a video obtained on Friday accused top commanders of leading them to ‘Boko Haram slaughter’ armed with obsolete weapons while enriching themselves with cash meant for buying better arms.
The hazy video, apparently taken from a camera phone, featured the soldiers expressing their anger in harsh tones.
An army officer in Borno told PREMIUM TIMES many of the soldiers in the video were killed in the latest Boko Haram attack on Metele. That has, however, not been independently verified.
In the video, the soldiers claimed their top commanders are using the Boko Haram war as an enterprise to enrich themselves at the expense of their lives.
The five minutes and 51 seconds video was, according to inside military sources, made shortly after troops prosecuting the Boko Haram war in the northern part of Borno State suffered a devastating attack at their location in Metele village on October 8.
The military admitted the attack then but downplayed the tragedy saying the situation had been contained and terrorists pushed back.
Weeks later, however, the same location was attacked again by Boko Haram.
PREMIUM TIMES published reports on the last Sunday attack in which over 100 soldiers died.
This newspaper also published a story from a disturbing video released by Boko Haram detailing how a previous attack happened.
The army on Friday, five days after the attack, released a statement admitting the latest Meteor attack but refused to provide official casualty figure.
The army is, however, yet to speak on this video by the soldiers and its spokesperson could not be reached at the time of this report.
The military has however said in the past that it was committed to the welfare of its soldiers and was doing its best to provide best weapons for them.
Although the army and other security agencies have demanded improved funding, army chief Tukur Buratai, who has visited the battlefronts in the North-east several times, has also repeatedly charged soldiers and their commanders to show more commitment in defending Nigerian territory against terrorists and other armed groups.
Worried about the rising cases of missing soldiers in Boko Haram attack, Mr Buratai issued a warning to troops on the battlefront against fleeing from insurgents in August, threatening errant personnel with a tough prosecution.
The Defence Headquarters announced last week it had taken new delivery of military equipment, boasting of a tough time ahead for insurgents.
The video by the aggrieved soldiers showed them displaying most of their war vehicles which they said were not only obsolete but unserviceable.
The soldiers said despite huge resources released by the government for the purpose of buying modern armament for the troops, the Nigeria military only supplies them with obsolete weapons, “that can’t stand any good fight with Boko Haram.”
They were heard saying in the video that their military commanders are using them to “make money” by deploying war tanks that have outlived their usefulness.
The soldiers said many of their colleagues were killed by the insurgents who also seized arms and ammunition.
Most of the soldiers – about 147 of them – that were featured in the video – died in the latest attack, a military source informed PREMIUM TIMES. This is yet to be independently verified.
Different muffled voices of soldiers spoke in the clips as they lamented the way their colleagues were killed.
“We are Nigerian soldiers dumped here in the middle of the desert. See how the Nigeria military is treating us. This place has just been attacked; see our fellow soldiers how they are burnt alive inside Hilux vans. They are using us to make money; why is it so? Are we not human beings?”
The soldiers said the Boko Haram attackers also went away with some high calibre motorised weapons like multiple rocket launchers, called 40-Barrel.
PREMIUM TIMES checks reveal that 40-barrel officially known as BM-21, is one of the world’s deadliest war weapon.
On wheels, it can launch up to 40 122mm rockets in 20 seconds, at ranges up to 20km. It is designed to deliver its deadly ammunition over an area rather than a point
“This is the place the Boko Haram came to take away 40-barrel,” the soldiers said.
“Look at how MRAP (mine resistant ambush protection) vehicles were destroyed. If RPG can penetrate MRAP, is it we human beings that it cannot destroy?”
The soldiers, who were deployed to Metele shortly after the October 8 attack, said about 147 of them were on the ground at the time they were shooting the video.
“We are 147 soldiers deployed here now, and they want to come and waste us. We will not accept that. Our blood is not meant to be spilt here; we are going to report to the federal government that we are using old war vehicles.”
The soldiers were seen in the video taking inventory of the number of war vehicles destroyed by the Boko Haram.
“This is T72 war tank that Albarnawi group came to destroy. Why are they using us to make money? We need the federal government to interfere (intervene) before they allow that terrorist called Albarnawi to come and kill us. He is being taken everywhere to collect money and then coming here to kill us.
“The federal government should come to our aid, these people (commanders) said we are nothing but zombies who don’t know our rights. But what they don’t know is that we are millennium soldiers, learned soldiers, not Oluyole (fake); we are not 63 NA soldiers, we are not 79 NA soldiers; most of us are graduates here.
“This is another T12 that was destroyed during the attack. Even the T12 tanks are very obsolete because they were procured during the regime of (Shehu) Shagari. These T12 war tanks were manufactured in 1983 in Slovakia.
“The equipment is not working; once you fire two rounds, you have to stop the engine to let it cool down; and before it could pick up again, Boko Haram would have entered and caused havoc. We have nothing protecting us here except some sand parapet and barbed wire. This place Metele is the exact place they killed troops of the Operation Last Hold.
“Despite all the money the federal government gave them they could not buy modern weapons, all they could do was to refurbish 1983 vehicles. The federal government gave them money to buy the best vehicles but the Nigeria army is here busy buying locally made like Innoson vehicles.”
Danger of 40-Barrel In Hands Of Boko Haram
A soldier with expertise on ballistics told PREMIUM TIMES that the 40-barrel in the hands of the terrorists is a tragedy waiting to explode.
“It does not only deliver 40 missiles to a range of 20km, rather, when a full blast of 40 warheads are fired, it spreads and covers a lethal area of about 600m x 600m, and on impact, they can produce a substantial fragmentation effect.
“Our prayer is that we retrieve the weapon or get its location and destroy it or the terrorists should not have the technical know-how of operating it, because it is highly technical to operate,” said the soldier who asked not to be named due to the sensitivity of the matter.