Vanguard reported that contrary to claims by the Nigerian Army that 23 soldiers died in the recent attack by Boko Haram insurgents on Nigerian Army 157 Task Force Battalion in Metele, Borno State, one of the soldiers who survived said no fewer than 200 people lost their lives in the incident. He also said that Boko Haram members, who were earlier arrested by soldiers in the battalion but later released by superior authorities, were among the attackers.
Headquarters in a reaction, dismissed all the allegations raised by the surviving soldier, insisting that only 23 soldiers were killed in Metele attack. The soldier, who disclosed these, yesterday, to Vanguard on condition of anonymity, said the video being circulated as depicting the Metele attack was the video of an earlier attack on soldiers in Jeli. He further noted that the wrong location of the base, faulty Armoured Personnel Carriers, APCs, and absence of aerial support from the Nigerian Air Force made it possible for the insurgents to inflict heavy casualties on the soldiers.
However, the surviving soldier appealed to President Buhari to disregard the information being given to him, saying that apart from the poor equipment deployed to the battlefield, soldiers were being owed six months allowances. Consequently, he urged the President to review the welfare packages of those fighting the war, alleging they are being underpaid by the authorities. Also, he regretted that the ground troops were not getting enough support from the Air Force, saying while Boko Haram insurgents monitored their activities with drones, the Air Force hardly carry out such tasks in enemy camps. Continuing, the soldier, who said the Army does not have an accurate data of those on the war front, added that the Air Force always attribute alleged inability to support them to poor visibility.
His words:
“The information about the Metele attack by the head of the Army, especially the Chief of Staff is wrong. I do not think they are doing what they are being paid to do. Soldiers are being killed daily, and their families are not being catered for properly. Last year, a celebration was hosted in Maiduguri to make sure that Internally Displaced Persons, IDPs returned to their respective areas. One hundred and fifty (150) vehicles left Abuja for Maiduguri for the exercise, 15 suddenly got missing and the 15 vehicles that got missing were painted green, with Operation Last Hold written on them.
They are the vehicles being used in attacking military locations, including Gagiram that was first attacked. “The attack led to the death of a Captain and 11 others, but they told the press and others that we lost only seven soldiers. Even if seven soldiers died, was it right to describe the figure as only? I think Nigeria is in a state of war. For us to lose about 11 soldiers and they called it just seven it is not true. State of war “Gagiram was attacked the second and third time. Minari was attacked and we lost 13 soldiers and officers. Others, who ran into the bush are still missing. The fight against the insurgents became intense with attacks on many locations. Between Gudunbalo and Gamasa, we lost many soldiers but it was unreported in the press and to the Presidency. No fewer than 200 soldiers were killed and the truth was never told. “Jeli was also attacked.

Many soldiers died and some are still missing. The question I am asking today is: Does the Army headquarters actually know the total strength of soldiers fighting in the North East? I don’t think so. “Since the Metele attack, many soldiers are still missing. Some corpses have been recovered while many have not been recovered. How do they know the total number of soldiers? I was surprised when the Chief of Army Staff came out on the TV and said only 23 people died. Let’s assume that 23 soldiers died, was that enough to call the number only? It is inhuman. What I know is that when a General loses in a battle, he is supposed to be court-martialed, retired, or jailed. But, some of our commanders failed and were then promoted. It shows that we are very wicked and we have lost it all as a nation. What about the people that died as a result of his actions? We are poorly fed “On our welfare, the Federal Government has released Ratio Cash Allowance, RCA, and operational allowance. It has not been given to us. We are only paid N20,000 monthly, and we are not paid at when due.
They pay N10,000 in cash and N45,000 is being given to the commandant for feeding. What are we being fed? They feed us beans every day in the morning. At noon we are given rice, while we eat garri for supper. People have developed diabetes because of regular intake of carbohydrate. Some soldiers now have challenges with their eyes because of what we eat. We are not properly fed, but they will come out to tell Nigerians that soldiers are well paid.
“The issue is not about deploying more people to the North East. People have stayed in the North East for four years without being rotated. Some have never seen their families, some who had no chance of seeing their families have died. They should forget about sending people to the North East and equip the soldiers properly. I want the President to heed this advice. What we need is not to send people to Sambisa. The President should ask what the army leadership did with money for the procurement of weapons. Did they actually buy new weapons or refurbished weapons?

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