Nigerian Soldiers Refuse to Deploy to Fight Boko Haram MilitantsAugust 25, 2014 in Nigeria
Dozens of Nigerian soldiers have refused to deploy for an upcoming offensive against Boko Haram militants, stating that they will not adhere to military orders until the receive better equipment and weaponry.
On Wednesday, a number of Nigerian troops revealed that they had been ordered to move out of their barracks in the north-eastern city of Maiduguri towards the Gwoza area of Borno state, where the insurgents have reportedly seized parts of the territory. One soldier disclosed, “we have vowed not to move one inch until our superiors provide us with all necessary weapons to effectively confront and dislodge Boko Haram, who have far better arms.” The troops have indicated that they have set up a camp on the outskirts of Maiduguri. While Defence Ministry spokesman Chris Olukolade indicted Wednesday that there was no mutiny in Borno, stating that Nigerian soldiers “are too disciplined and patriotic to indulge in this dangerous offence,” he did not categorically deny that some of the troops had refused to follow military orders, stating only that any such move by soldiers must be “properly tried in a military court” before it can be classified as a mutiny.
Although the Defence Ministry has repeatedly claimed that “no soldier has been sent on any mission without being armed,” over the past several months, a number of Nigerian soldiers have come forward, stating that the ill-equipped forces were being gunned down by Islamist fighters who were equipped with heavy firepower. Some officials and independent experts have backed these accusations, noting that Boko Haram fighters are better armed than Nigerian troops. One such official is Borno state Governor Kashim Shettima, who was fiercely criticized by the military after he made a similar statement in February. Residents in towns raided by the Islamist militants have also reported that the insurgents are often armed with rocket-propelled grenades and anti-aircraft weapons mounted on trucks and that in some cases they have armoured personnel carriers. In contrast, Nigerian soldiers have at times reportedly lacking ammunition for their AK-47 rifles and have been sent out to the bushlands to fight the militants without basic communication equipment.
Earlier this month, several military wives staged a protest at the gate of a military base in Maiduguri in an attempt to stop their husbands from deploying to Gwoza until they were properly equipped. President Goodluck Jonathan recently requested that Nigerian lawmakers approve a US $1 billion foreign loan that would be utilized to upgrade the capacity of the military. While parliament did not vote on the bill, as it was announced a day before summer recess, many see the President’s request as a tact acknowledgement that his military is being out-matched by the militants.