Many wives of Nigerian soldiers belonging to the 21 Armored Brigade stationed at Giwa Barracks in Maiduguri, Borno State, protested in the early hours of Monday by locking in their husbands at home. Three of the women told a correspondent of SaharaReporters that they were upset at the rising casualty rates among soldiers sent to fight Boko Haram insurgents.
Last week, Nigerian troops suffered what one security source described as “high casualties” in a series of daring attacks by Islamist militants who seized Gwoza town in Borno State as well as several towns in Yobe State.
The protests by the soldiers’ wives brought activities at the Giwa Barrack to a halt for several hours. “They made it impossible for vehicles to come in or go out of the barrack,” a source at the location said.
Speaking on the phone to our correspondent, one of the protesters said, “We are asking the Federal Government and Defense Ministry to equip our husbands with sophisticated weapons or else we won't allow them to go anywhere.”
The protesters blamed obsolete weaponry for the deaths of numerous soldiers. “Our men are telling us that they go into battle with guns that cannot withstand that of Boko Haram,” one of the women said.
The angry spouses said they were determined to demand that the soldiers receive adequate equipment and weapons to more effectively carry out their duties. They accused the Federal Government of being indifferent to the plight of the women widowed by the deaths of their husbands in the war against Boko Haram.
“Some of our friends are now widows and nobody is taking care of them and their children once their husbands are dead. That is why we have to lock our husbands at home to keep them alive,” one woman said.
One of the women added that Nigerian troops are preparing for an operation to dislodge insurgents from Bama and Gwoza, adding that many wives had resolved to “stand up and protect their husbands.”
Last week, Boko Haram militants killed at least 15 soldiers, including an officer as well as the Divisional Police Officer in Damboa when the Islamist insurgents attacked Gwoza town. Some soldiers as well as hundreds of civilians are still missing after that attack last week.
Several security sources had disclosed that desertion rates continue to rise within the military. According to these sources, many soldiers simply abandon their posts due to growing frustration with issues of adequate equipment as well as the government’s long delays in paying allowances to troops deployed on active duties in the war against Boko Haram.