The Nigerian Army has criticized saboteurs who are sustaining the insurgency in the North-east of the country through trade and smuggling, and has closed some markets in Borno and Yobe States identified as being involved in the practice.

A statement released on Tuesday by the Acting Director Army of Public Relations, Colonel Sani Kukasheka Usman, warned that any breach of this new regulation will be dealt with accordingly. 

“The General Officers Commanding and other commanders have been directed accordingly,” the statement said, imploring the support and understanding of the public.  He did not name the affected markets or any of the saboteurs.

Col. Usman said the army has continued to record tremendous successes in the fight against terrorists and insurgency.  Yesterday, for instance, he said troops of 7 Brigade Quick Reaction Force (QRF), Multinational Joint Task Force, staged an ambush against the terrorists at Kekeno in Kukawa Local Government Area, killing five suspected Boko Haram terrorists.

He said they also recovered one Toyota Buffalo vehicle, 3 AK-47 rifles, 2 knives, a horse and some fabricated weapons.  He noted that the insurgents were believed to have been on a retaliatory mission following the killing of a suspected Boko Haram Amir during an ambush by our troops at Kekeno.

“In another development, troops of 118 Task Force Battalion patrolling Mile 90-Kekeno general area, have killed one suspected Boko Haram terrorist and captured 2 other insurgents,” the statement said.  “Similarly, troops of Army Headquarters Special Forces on patrol to Yale came across Boko Haram terrorist camp at Bulagana, cleared the camp and rescued 40 civilians held hostage. Unfortunately, 1 soldier sustained gunshot wounds during the operation. He has since been evacuated and is responding to treatment.”

Col. Usman also disclosed that troops of the 151 Task Force Battalion of the 21 Brigade encountered Boko Haram terrorists while on patrol at Budumri village, and in the encounter, killed 25 of them and arrested eight others. 

“The troops also rescued 103 civilians held hostage by the terrorists,” he said. “They also recovered 1 Golf car and quite a number of motorcycles and bicycles. The troops also cleared terrorists camp at Bolungu village. The same unit also rescued 181 persons and captured 8 Boko Haram terrorists. Among those rescued, were 18 men, 90 women and 77 children. The screening and profiling of those rescued is ongoing before their movement to IDP camps, while those arrested are being interrogated.”

He expressed regret that despite these successes, it has emerged that there are some black sheep bent on tarnishing the image of the Nigerian Army.

“Last Sunday 7th February 2016, two of our Explosive Ordinance Device personnel attached to 143 Battalion, 13NA/ 70/10183 Sapper Eric Nwokorie and 13NA/70/10263 Sapper Macauley Fortune were arrested at Yola park with the following unauthorised military items: 1 Smoke grenade, 2,136 live rounds of 7.62 (Special) ammunition, 50 live rounds of 7.6mm (NATO) ammunition,  5  magazines of AK 47 rifles,  2  Browning Machine Gun live rounds of ammunitions. Others include, 1 Axe, 1  Cutlass, 1 Jack knife, 9  Jungle hats, 11  pairs of Camouflage  (9 Desert and 3 woodland green), 4  Military Pullovers, 1 Black beret,  1 Green beret, 1 Pair of number 7 dress, 2 General Duty belt, 12 Army T-shirts, 2 Rain Coats, 2 Water bottles,  1 Pairs of Rain boot and 5 Pairs of Desert boots.”

Despite that unfortunate incident, he continued, the moral of the troops remains high as they continue to dominate the general area with aggressive raids, ambushes and patrols to clear the remnants of the terrorists hibernating in the area. 

Col. Usman also commented on a set of 250 protesting dismissed soldiers at the secretariat of the Nigerian Union of journalists (NUJ) in Kaduna who, he said, are pleading through the media to be reabsorbed back again into the Nigerian Army.

He identified the protesters as those soldiers who were dismissed last week by the Nigerian Army over gross acts of indiscipline, cowardice and absence without leave.

“They were part of the 2,023 dismissed soldiers last year that were earlier reinstated back into the Service by the present Chief of Army Staff,” he said.  “However these set of soldiers (the 205) absconded for more than one week when they were told that they were to move to North East on the 6th of January 2016. They started coming back when they realised that others were moved to units other than the theatre of operations in the North East. Please note that all efforts were made to make all the reinstated soldiers comfortable and integrate them back into the system.  The protesting soldiers are the few who are recalcitrant to military duties and discipline. They are simply not interested in army job but want to earn a salary. No one should listen to them as they are not patriotic at all.”

The Nigerian Army, he said has been tolerant and patient with the acts of indiscipline and unprofessional conduct of those soldiers on account of the understanding of their circumstances and conditions, he said, adding that efforts had been made to retrain them, integrate and give them a sense of belonging. 

“However the attitude of some of them has left so much to be desired and would not be tolerated anymore hence their dismissal from Service.  The Nigerian Army thrives on discipline, loyalty and good conduct and if anyone could not measure up to expectation or live by those tenets, he would not be allowed to remain in the system.”

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