The Nigerian Army has declared 12 officers and 86 soldiers missing in the wake of last week's Boko Haram attacks on Marte and Dikwa local government areas of Borno State.
A signal dated March 1, 2021, from Operation Lafiya Dole Headquarters in Maiduguri, sighted by the DailyTrust, showed that the soldiers were declared as deserters.
It indicated that three majors, three captains, six lieutenants, three sergeants and 89 soldiers fled in the aftermath of the attacks on Marte and Dikwa.
The signal, signed by Col. A.O. Odubiyi, on behalf of the Theatre Commander of Operation Lafiya Dole, partly read, "I am directed to connect Reference A on the above subject and to respectfully forward details of additional officers and soldiers who absconded from the defensive location during the BHT attack on New Marte and Dikwa.
"You are requested to declare the named officers and soldiers' deserters WEF February 19 21. You are also requested to cause HQ NAFC to freeze their accounts and apprehend/bring them under military escort to this Headquarters if seen within your AOR."
When contacted last night for official reaction, the spokesman of the Nigerian Army, Brig.-Gen. Mohammed Yerima told our correspondent that, "If Army has anything to tell the world, shall we wait for the media to prompt us? No! Well, if we have anything to tell the world on that, we will tell the world, we won't allow you to prompt us."
It would be recalled that Boko Haram fighters had dislodged Nigerian troops in Marte on February 14, prompting them to relocate to Dikwa.
The insurgents reportedly foisted their flags at the Marte area after killing seven troops of the 153rd Task Force Battalion.
After that, the terrorists waged another war against the troops in Dikwa on February 19 but were repelled.
Shortly after the attempted attack, the Chief of Army Staff, Maj.-Gen. Ibrahim Attahiru went to Dikwa and gave a 48-hour ultimatum to the troops to recapture Marte and other towns, which they did.
A military source told Daily Trust that the case of the 101 soldiers that deserted was a source of concern.
"This case should not be seen as mutiny because they went separate ways when the insurgents dislodged them. Some may have been killed; some may have retreated to their main bases and others may be on the run.
"This is not a new thing. It happens when military bases are dislodged," he said.
Another military source familiar with the recent development said most of the deserters left in protest because the terrorists had superior weapons and not because they didn't want to continue serving their country.
"The fact is that the weapons procured by the federal government between 2013 and 2014 have all worn out while the terrorists have stolen others during raids on military bases.
"Also, the terrorists have procured additional weapons from other sources, which they are now using to take the war to the doorsteps of our troops.
"The terrorists also believe that they are fighting a religious battle and therefore are ready to fight all the time, confronting the troops with the conviction that they would either win or die. All these factors have collectively dampened the morale of our troops and the federal government must do something to revive it," he said.