On behalf of the federal government, the Ministry of Defence, has finally released funds for the payment of operational allowances of thousands of Nigerian soldiers fighting insurgency across the country.
It includes several theaters of operation from Operations Lafiya Dole to Sharan Daji, Harbin Kunama and the recently concluded special security operations in the South-South and South West.
The disbursement comes at a time when an unknown soldier penned a letter to President Muhammadu Buhari lamenting the alleged corruption in the army and adding that “this is the third month in a row that they have been denied operations allowance.”
The letter, which is believed to have been written by a soldier currently attached to the Operation Lafiya Dole – the military anti-insurgency operation in the North-East – has gone viral on the social media.
The anonymous soldier, who claimed to be a private writing from Damaturu, Yobe State, alleged that the soldiers in the frontline were being poorly treated as a result of massive corruption in the army.
He lamented that they ‘rely on meagre salary for everything and that from battalion commanders, to Company and Sectors leaders, they are all in debt, because the salaries are not enough to sustain them at the battlefront and feeding thier families back at home.
‘It is a big shame that we have joined the Army to defend the civilians, yet we have to go to the civilians in town to borrow money to fend for ourselves at the battlefront.’ he said.
The soldier said he wrote the letter as a result of one Abdulrauf Aliyu, a private too, who was said to have deserted his base, when he sustained an injury.
The soldier noted that Aliyu did not desert the army, adding that the case of the injured soldier was one among many others who were injured at the battlefield and given little or no attention.
The letter reads: “Your Excellency, corruption in the army is real and it is killing us. While we expect to die in the hands of the enemy, we don’t expect to die in the hands of the army, due to corruption and criminal negligence.
“Just the other week, about 14 (I am not sure of the exact number) of our colleagues died in the hands of Boko Harram, who attacked the army camp. The circumstances surrounding their unnecessary death warrant a full investigation by his Excellency. Sir, you will be shocked of the outcome. The bodies of the slain heroes are still lying here in Damaturu.
“Your Excellency, this is the third month in a row that we have been denied of our operational allowance. We have to rely only on our meagre salary for everything. From battalion commanders to company and sector leaders, we are all in debt, because our salaries are not enough to sustain us at the battlefield let alone feeding our families back at home.
“It is a big shame that we have joined the army to defend the civilians, yet we have to go to the civilians in town to borrow money to fend for ourselves at the battlefield.
“It is said that the Federal Government spends about N14, 000 on each prisoner in Nigeria. Here, at the battlefront in Operation Lafiya Dole, the army spends about N600 per day on a soldier’s feeding, while in reality billions of naira is appropriated per year for this purpose. Your Excellency, we are treated like animals. Most of us are afraid to talk because of the dire consequence.
“As the Commander-in-Chief of the armed forces, your Excellency, kindly investigate. There is corruption in the army. Soldiers are needlessly dying.”
Meanwhile, the Director, Army Public Relations, Brig. Gen. Sani Usman, on Sunday, said that the army would issue a statement on the allegations, but the statement had yet to come as of press time.
“I will react,” he simply said.