PREMIUM TIMES last Saturday reported that 380 soldiers were exiting the Nigerian Army, with 356 of them citing “loss of interest” and the rest 24 leaving “to take traditional titles”.
Following the report, the army used its verified Twitter account to attack PREMIUM TIMES, labelling the report as “fake and malicious news by supporters of Boko Haram.”
It claimed the soldiers were “disengaged in a normal routine exercise at the end of their service.”
Also, the Nation newspaper, on Sunday, reported an army source disputing the story and claiming that the affected soldiers were retiring having attained the statutory 35 years in the service.
The source reportedly said the soldiers were not resigning due to loss of interest or to take any traditional title.
In all cases, the army’s claim is, at best, inaccurate. PREMIUM TIMES obtained documents proving the army and the said ‘source’ wrong.
A July 8 letter from the office of the Chief of Army Staff to various army formations and units clearly conveyed the approval of the army chief Tukur Buratai for the “voluntary” disengagement, not “statutory retirement” (as the army falsely claims) of 380 soldiers, apart from six exiting based on the “recommendation of the medical board”.
The letter was attached with the list of the 380 soldiers voluntarily disengaging and the list of the six leaving for medical reasons.
An analysis of the first list shows “loss of interest” as the “reason for discharge” of 356 of the soldiers and ‘to take traditional title” for the remaining 24.
Further analysis of the list shows that only 74 of the 380 soldiers were enlisted before year 2000, thus proving the inaccuracy of the army’s claim that the soldiers had attained 35 years in service.
Among the 74, only 10 were enlisted prior to the year 1990, that is 30 years ago, five years less than the statutory 35 years the army claimed the soldiers had attained.
A soldier’s service number indicates their year of enlistment and this is given for each of the soldiers on the list.
Meanwhile, in another Twitter post, the army dug up a report PREMIUM TIMES published on April 5 on how the force had placed an embargo on voluntary disengagement.
Although it was then denied (still we showed documentary evidence), it now uses that April 5 report to counter this latest report on the 356 soldiers leaving due to “loss of interest”.
“Malicious intent to discredit the efforts of the Nigerian Army as exemplified by the contradiction inherent in the publications,” the army thus captioned a merged picture of the screenshots of the April 5 story and the one on soldiers leaving after losing interest.
But it appears, as the July approval for the voluntary disengagement of the soldiers has shown, the army only reversed the policy of suspending voluntary disengagement after our April 5 report and the controversy it generated.
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