A total of 34 soldiers are exiting the Nigerian Army despite the worsening security challenges the military is currently combating in some parts of the country, SaharaReporters has gathered.
The soldiers, drawn from various formations of the army across the country, all belong to junior cadres who are mostly at the forefront in the field.
They include warrant officers, staff sergeants, sergeants, lance corporals, corporals and privates.
The Chief of Army Staff has since approved their formal disengagement.
The list of the exiting soldiers did not distinguish between those embarking on voluntary retirement and those leaving the army on medical grounds.
However, none of them has attained retirement age or the mandatory years of service.
The soldiers in a letter to the army chief under Reference NA/COAS/001, quoted the Harmonised Terms and Conditions of Service soldiers/rating/airmen (Revised) 2017.
The approval of their voluntary disengagement dated January 25, 2023, was signed by Colonel AC Unadgu and exclusively obtained by SaharaReporters during the weekend.
According to Unadgu, the 34 soldiers are to submit all military properties in their possession.
There have been allegations of corruption in the Nigerian Army which some of the soldiers have blamed on the issue – soldiers overstaying in the Northeast.
According to some soldiers, the army is the epitome of deep-seated corruption. They noted that corruption is affecting the prosecution of the anti-terrorism war in Northeast Nigeria.
Recently, army personnel deployed for counterinsurgency operations in Borno State lamented that those who were to relieve them three months after they were asked to leave the battlefield had yet to resume.
The soldiers complained that they were being forced to confront Boko Haram militants, adding that their low morale and lack of willingness to continue to fight made it possible for terrorists to dislodge some military camps recently.
They complained of abandonment and accused the military authorities of keeping them on the front beyond their approved period of stay
In 2022, over 500 soldiers in the Northeast and other theatres of operation wrote to the Chief of Army Staff, Lt Gen General Faruk Yahaya, seeking voluntary retirement.
Recently, some personnel attached to the 198 Special Forces of the Nigerian Army in Borno accused their Commanding Officer, Lieutenant Colonel Abdulahi Hassan Ali of corruption and financial mismanagement.
Some of the soldiers who spoke to SaharaReporters claimed Ali had been diverting their allowances.
According to the soldiers, the unit will soon witness a complete breakdown of order and discipline over the unpaid allowances and alleged bad treatment by their commander.
“We calling on them to quickly treat and investigate the reason why our commander has refused to pay soldiers all their operations funds which were directed to us in 198 Special Force Battalion, under 402 SF brigade.
“The Nigerian Army gave 198 Special Force Commanding officer, Lieutenant Colonel Abdulahi Hassan Ali millions of Naira to give his soldiers for Operation Thunder Strike that was conducted in Kaduna State in 2021 but he refused to pay them accordingly,” one of the soldiers said.
“The Borno state governor, His Excellency Governor Zulum gave 198 and 199 Special Forces Battalion funds; worth millions of Naira to give soldiers after they returned back to Maiduguri, Borno state from Kaduna state. To motivate/moralize soldiers for Operation desert sanity which was conducted in 2022 in Borno state. But both battalions’ commanders refused to give these soldiers their entitlements.
“The resent Sallah money worth millions of Naira which was given to the 134, 198 and 199 special forces battalions under 402 SF Brigade by the same Borno state governor Zulum as welfare was also diverted. The commanders of 134 and 199 battalions shared the money to their soldiers while Ali who is leading 198 SF refused to pay us.
“In the ongoing operation forest sanity in Kaduna state, cows and motorcycles captured around Damba and Kudenden general area are being hidden in his newly built house in Kano and farm.
“This is a man who I sed (sic) to convert soldiers’ entitlements, he has been pocketing the battalion’s feeding money every months. You know we dare not challenge or ask our commanding officer about all the money and other allowances but we have family and relatives that we are taking care of at our various homes. So Nigerians should please help us out.”
In 2022, some army personnel also accused President Buhari of failing to check corruption and financial mismanagement among some top military officers while soldiers continue to cry on a daily basis.
The soldiers in an open letter to the President accused top army officers of corruption and extortion.
They said despite their numerous complaints, nobody was saying anything about their unpaid allowances by the military finance corps.
The letter had read, “We want to start by saying that it is a shame on General Muhammadu Buhari for failing to address the financial mismanagement of Nigerian soldiers while they continue to cry on the (sic) daily basis.
“Soldiers of the Nigerian Army have complained severally (sic) how their money is being short pay (sic) by the Army Finance and nobody is saying anything about it.
“Nigerian soldiers have complained severally (sic) how they have been given 20% of the 100% allowance which was signed into law by the President Buhari since (sic) 2017 which is known as MAFA. No one is saying anything and the President is not interested to follow up or investigating (sic) the matter.
“The salary of our soldiers is being paid through POS, phone transfer in connection with banks by the army finance department. Our soldiers have been crying but no one is saying anything.
“Our Soldiers continue to buy their uniforms themselves and every other kit needed to protect the people and the nation. No uniform allowance, no boot allowance, and nobody are (sic) saying anything.
“The soldiers we don’t see as anything are the ones that are keeping this country moving. They are using their lives as a wages (sic) between Nigerians and our adversaries.
“When these boys will strike, they won’t be able to enjoy all the money they are stealing and hiding for (sic) their children. When they will strike, running to another country will be too late for us. When they will strike, they (sic) won’t be room for amendment.
“Pay our soldiers their money in full and do it now. Army finance should not have anything to do with our soldiers’ salaries and allowances.”