Nigerian Army Threatens Punishment Against Soldiers Who Reported Neglect

Lt. Gen Ayatollah T. Yusuf Buratai says he is the defender of democracy

SaharaReporters has obtained a memorandum, signed by Major Ja Dada, threatening punishment against Nigerian army officers who spoke to this publication about their maltreatment by their commanding officers.

On Monday July, 4th 2016 SaharaReporters published a report detailing the list of grievances and maltreatment of soldiers and officers stationed at the frontline of the fight against Boko Haram in Borno State.

Several soldiers lamented that, since first being stationed in the war zone in 2013, they have never been rotated to a less intense location.

SaharaReporters wrote that: “a number of the soldiers complained of a prolonged loss of a sense of normalcy in their lives. Two of the soldiers, who are both married, stated that they had had neither physical contact nor communication with their spouses, children and other loved ones.”

The day after SaharaReporters published its report the army published a memorandum disparaging those who spoke about this mistreatment.

The report stated, in part, that “the [Brigade Commander] stated that the act portrayed the height of indiscipline and portrayed a high degree of disloyalty to the Nigerian Army.”

“He further stated that he held all officers and Senior Commanding Officers responsible for the act especially as ASA had previously addressed them personally on the issue of their stay in the theater and had told them that it was being addressed.”

The message continued saying “that anyone found associated with such [disclosure of information to SaharaReporters] would be severely dealt with in line layed down service laws.”

Mr. Dada’s memorandum follows a long history of threats of punishment against soldiers crying out against their maltreatment. It will be recalled that the Nigerian Army indicted soldiers who fled the frontlines because they were not properly equipped to fight against Boko Haram.

The Nigerian Army has also been under mounting public pressure following the release of details by SaharaReporters of lavish properties belonging to the Chief of Army Staff Tukur Buratai. Mr. Buratai has not been able to explain publicly how he was able to afford these properties on the salary of a career soldier. Mr. Buratai was also present during the appalling Zaria Massacre where more than 350 Shiite Muslims were murdered by the military.