Soldiers of the Nigerian Army attached to Exercise Harbin Kunama, which is an anti-banditry operation in the North-West region, are being owed March and April allowances – a situation which is currently affecting their morale.
Some of the affected soldiers under 31 Artillery Brigade told SaharaReporters that they were told they would spend only six months fighting bandits in Niger State, but had now spent about two years, while their allowances were not regularly paid and underpaid when it came.
SaharaReporters learnt that some of the soldiers entitled to N45,000 monthly were being paid N30,000 without any explanation, while some had not been paid their June 2020 allowances and those on Exercise Harbin Kunama are being owed for March and April 2021.
The soldiers, who spoke on the condition of anonymity, said they would like their complaints to get to the attention of the Chief of the Army Staff, Lt Gen Attahiru Ibrahim, so that he would realise that they were sacrificing their lives to the country for nothing, because their welfare was not being taken care of.
One of them said, “The ill treatment is getting out of hand. We were told that we were to spend three months only on this operation, but we have spent two years. Most of us came back from Maiduguri, Borno State not up to four months (ago), and they are still not paying us our operational allowance.
“We came to Niger State all in the name of Exercise Harbin Kunama. We aren't complaining about the low pay but they should try and be paying us our money, because we have families who we are feeding with our salaries. We can't be out for operation and be dragging the salary with our wife and children. We are being owed March and April allowances and May is also ending.”
“We are supposed to be paid N45,000; instead they are giving us N30,000 and presently we have not been paid for last June, and for March and April this year. The feeding itself has nothing good to write about and we have never for once been given any uniform; we buy our uniforms by ourselves. We believe they are giving them (army authorities) the money but they decided to feed us and use us as slaves. Please, this should be an open letter to the Chief of Army Staff and the General Officer Commanding, 1 Division,” another soldier lamented.
SaharaReporters had on Saturday reported that another set of aggrieved soldiers affected by the Nigerian Army’s controversial Welfare Housing Scheme also lamented that the army owed them uniform and boot allowances and was still planning to deduct from their salary in the name of a housing scheme.
Also last Friday, some soldiers wrote a save-our-soul letter to President Muhammadu Buhari over the Nigerian Army’s planned deduction of their salaries to pay for the “fraudulent Nigerian Army Welfare Housing Scheme.”
SaharaReporters gathered that there is a growing disquiet in the army over issues of several unpaid allowances and illegal deductions from salaries, which the army authorities have repeatedly failed to address.