Soldiers of the Nigerian Army’s 81 Division Taskforce Battalion deployed to Super Camp 9 Dikwa in Borno State have petitioned General Muhammadu Buhari, Chief of Army Staff, Lt-Gen. Tukur Buratai over extortion of soldiers’ allowance by superior officers
The Army Headquarters has assured the allegations would be investigated despite that the aggrieved soldiers went about their complaints wrongly.
The petition states that the Commanding Officer identified as Lt.-Col. GE Asemota allegedly turned their welfare and allowances to his pocket money and refused to pay cigarette allowances since January despite a signal from the Nigerian Army (NA) notifying them of the introduction of N200 monthly cigarette allowance.
The aggrieved soldiers alleged that instead of N24, 000 welfare, including N12, 000 given them by the COAS, the CO only paid them N12, 000.
“The only money he paid is the N12000 welfare given to us by COAS. Other battalions under the Theatre Command Operation Lafiya Dole have already paid their soldiers N24, 000 including the N12000 of COAS,” they said.
The soldiers also alleged that their CO exposes them to danger by refusing to send vehicles and escorts to Maiduguri to bring back soldiers who went there on pass, a tradition, they said previous COs upheld.
“He said the way and manner you enter civilians’ vehicles to the camp is none of his business and any soldier that fail to return to camp with civilian vehicle on the expiration of his pass will have N800 per day deducted from his money.
“Sir, could you believe that he deducted N800 from each soldier that returned from pass last time from the N12000 given to us by COAS which some soldiers refused to collect the remaining of the money till now?
“Right before the increment of Operations allowances, our previous COs used to give us at the end of every month: one pack of sugar, 12 sachets of chocolate and 12 eggs. Immediately Lt.-Col Asemota took over command he said he is not going to give us any ‘looking good’ again that it’s costly.
“Sir, we write to you because we, soldiers of 81 Division Taskforce Battalion SUPER CAMP 9, are passing through pains in the hand of Lt.-Col. Asemota.
“We do not go to town pass anymore and it takes each soldier seven to eight months before going on normal pass.
“Sir, we will be happy and our low morale will be highly motivated if you look into our pains and treat accordingly,” they stated.
Contacted, the Army Operations Media Media Coordinator Colonel Aminu Iliyasu said there were laid down channels for such grievances to be reported.
He said: “The soldiers chose the wrong approach in voicing their alleged grievances. There are laid down procedures in the NA to complain and they know it.
“That notwithstanding, the army will investigate the allegations once it gets the petition.
“A Board of Inquiry will be set up to probe these claims and if substantiated, be assured sanctions will be meted in line with provisions of the Armed Forces Act.
“The Nigerian Army views such issues seriously and cannot hide anything.”