July 15, 2013
Military commanders fear that as many as 162 soldiers deserted the Nigerian Army last week as morale sinks to an all-time low due to the ongoing success terrorist sect Boko Haram is enjoying in its war with the army. A headcount of soldiers serving with the Seventh Mechanised Brigade of the Nigerian Army in Maiduguri showed that 162 rifles were abandoned by soldiers who left their duty posts during the week.
Ministry of defence officials said that it’s being treated as a routine case of deserters as the authorities are convinced the terrorists did not capture any of its soldiers alive. Apparently, the soldiers are unhappy about the seeming advantages Boko Haram terrorists are enjoying over the military in their ongoing battle across northeastern Nigeria.
Sources within the army say that soldiers are not only unhappy about the fact that Boko Haram is a better fighting force but they are particularly annoyed about the regularity with which military plans are leaked to the sect. One army source said: “Routine troop deployment, withdrawals from positions are known to the terrorists even before the soldiers on the ground are briefed. This leak is surely traceable to the officer cadre within the division.”
Commanders of the Seventh Mechanised Division only got to know the extent of the problem yesterday afternoon, when a mop-up operation recovered the abandoned rifles. These weapons have now been returned to the division’s armoury and the military authorities are battling to raise troops’ morale, which has reached a new low.
This has been the single largest desertion in a week in recent times as the growing disaffection with the Nigerian Army appears to have reached fresh heights. Over recent months, Boko Haram has enjoyed significant success over the Nigerian Army as its fighters are not only better equipped but also more motivated.