By Rabiu Sani/Maiduguri
Some soldiers who survived the attack by Boko Haram on the military formation in Metele have sent an SOS to President Muhammadu Buhari, urging him to probe the quality of weapons procured by the military authorities and save them from further avoidable deaths.
In a video sent to journalists in Maiduguri, the soldiers accused the military authorities of providing them with obsolete weapons, which they said are grossly inadequate to effectively confront the insurgents in the ongoing counter insurgency campaign in the Northeast.
In the amateur video footage, the soldiers also levelled allegations against the military authorities accusing them of negligence which resulted into the death of scores of their colleagues in a series of attacks coordinated by the Albarnawi faction of the Boko Haram at Metele in Guzamala Local Government Area of Borno.
Foreign wire agencies reported that dozens of soldiers were killed when the insurgents attacked Metele military base on November 18.
In the video, two soldiers, who claimed to be among the survivors of the attack, narrated the precarious condition of the troops and obsolete equipment which made it difficult for them to repel the insurgents’ attack.
The video footage showed the level of destruction of military equipment and makeshift shelters, while soldiers were seen packing their luggages, apparently preparing to live the camp.
In the video, the soldiers appealed to President Buhari—they repeatedly appealed to him— to intervene to save the situation from deteriorating.
“See what the Nigerian Army has been doing to us, they brought us here. See how they killed our fellow soldiers, they burn them inside the tanks”, a narrator in the video said.
“They are using us to make money; why? Are we not human beings? They can kill soldiers inside a tank; if Rocket Propelled Grenade (RPG) can penetrate M-RAG vehicle, what of a fellow human being?
“This is the location called ‘Metele’, This is a place they (the insurgents) took over 40 barrel and these people want to use us, and within one week they killed over 200 soldiers and we are now 147, they want to waste us here. It is a lie, our blood is not here.
“This is a Third World vehicle, a tank manufactured in 1972; and Albarnawi broke all of it.They want to use us and we are not getting anything from them.We want to tell the government of our condition.
“Please; the Federal Government should intervene before the insurgents come and kill us. They mocked us and said we are Zombies; animals, we do not know our rights, any order given to us we will follow.
“We are millennium soldiers, most of us are graduates.
“Look at what they did to this T12 tank; it is obsolete. It was a 1983 Czechoslovakian tank procured during Shagari’s regime. Is this the money the Federal Government provided to procure weapons?
“All the equipment are not working. When it fired two shots it stopped. All the weapons are obsolete and bought during Shagari(1979-1983).
“We know about the money the Federal Government gave to them but the Nigerian Army had turned us into a business”.
“All the money federal government gave them to buy weapons… Nigerian Army is buying INNOSON…. All these are obsolete… Oyinbo came here and said they are obsolete. All these weapons were bought during the Shagari regime in 1983. They have turned us to business. Federal Government you will hear about it. All these weapons are not genuine…if you fire two times you have stoppages.
“This is 1983 when Shagari was head of state… Federal Government give them money, they go and buy INNOSON, Nigerian made… Federal Government please help us… help us.”
The Nigeria Army on Friday, confirmed on its Twitter handle the attack on 157 Task Force Battalion at Metele, on November 18 by Boko Haram insurgents.
However, the military authorities response, which came five days after, was short on details and the extent of casualties.
The army said that it has laid down procedures for reporting incidents that involve its personnel who become casualties in action, as a form of respect to the families of the gallant troops.
It noted that the families were first to be notified before any form of public information so as to avoid exacerbating their grief were they to discover it from unofficial sources.
“It is suffice to observe that several social media, print and online publications have been brandishing false casualty figures as well as circulating various footages of old and inaccurate Boko Haram terrorists’ propaganda videos, and alluding it to be the attack on 157 Task Force Battalion.
“While; it is understandable how such misinformation can spread in this era of social media frenzy, the spurious circulation of some of these videos only contribute to further propagate the propaganda intent of the terrorists, misinform the populace and portray themselves as what they are not?
“So far, the situation in the location is under control as reinforcing units had been able to repel the terrorists and stabilize the situation.
In his reaction, President Muhammadu Buhari expressed deep shock over the killing of military personnel in Metele village by Boko Haram terrorists.
He gave an assurance that immediate measures are being taken to ensure that the loopholes which led to the fatalities are blocked once and for all.
Reacting to the tragic incident, the President said that his administration remains ever committed and focused on the security of military personnel and other citizens.
According to President Buhari, “No responsible Commander-in-Chief would rest on his oars or fold his hands to allow terrorists to endanger the lives of its military personnel and other citizens. Our loyal forces have proved their strength over the terrorists and we are ready to give them all the needed support in terms of equipment and manpower to succeed in ending the renewed threat. In the coming days, I am engaging the Military and Intelligence Chiefs in extensive discussions on the next steps we shall be taking.”
The President noted that fighting terrorism has taken a global dimension, which necessitates international collaboration among states facing similar security challenges.
President Buhari reassured Nigerians of his continued commitment to their security and of his efforts to sustain the momentum in the previous significant successes recorded against the terrorists.
He, however, advised Nigerians against making a political capital out of national tragedy, stressing that members of the armed forces are one family who are commonly committed to the security and safety of all Nigerians.