Reported by SaharaReporters, New York
Brigadier General M.Y. Ibrahim, the newly posted General Officer Commanding the 7th Division of the Nigerian Army located at Maimalari Barracks, Maiduguri got a taste of soldiers’ fury on Thursday afternoon as angry soldiers stormed his office to demand that he pay their allowances and reinstate motorbikes to transport them and members of their families within the barrack.
Several sources in the barracks told SaharaReporters that the soldiers’ second act of mutiny in two weeks began around 3:00 p.m. (Nigerian time). The angry soldiers blew a whistle, and most of the rank and file gathered at a spot before they marched en masse to the 7th Division headquarters building where the GOC’s office is located.
The sources said the sources shot in the air as they marched and chanted “We no gree oh, we no gree!” Our sources said the protesting soldiers were upset about the army’s failure to pay their outstanding allowances. They were also annoyed by the decision of the newly posted GOC to ban motorcycles as a form of transport within the barracks. The new GOC reportedly banned motorbikes known as Okada and tricycles known as “Keke NAPEP” from operating within the vast barracks. The soldiers wondered why the new commander would prohibit the use of the only affordable means of transport they have when he knows full well that the base covers a huge area and that few soldiers own cars or bike.
“If no okada [motorcycles] are allowed, then our small children have to walk to school and our wives will walk to market,” one of the soldiers told SaharaReporters. “Are we not suffering too much already?” he added.
Once they arrived at the GOC’s office, the protesting soldiers decided to give him a dose of the experience of navigating within the barracks without motorcycles. They ordered Major General XYZ to come outside the building, pushing and shoving him. Then they forced him to trek all through the barracks.
The angry soldiers also demanded the payment of their N100, 000 furniture allowance which, according to them, was long overdue.
Last week, frustrated soldiers at the same barracks demonstrated and shot at the car of their erstwhile GOC, Major General Ahmadu Mohammed. The soldiers felt that General Mohammed’s operational orders were responsible for the death of close to 100 soldiers who were returning from an operation in Chibok, the town where members of the Islamist group, Boko Haram, kidnapped 276 high schoolgirls near midnight on April 14. The abduction of the girls, who remain missing, has sparked outrage in Nigeria and around the world.
Military authorities in Abuja decided to remove Major General Mohammed a day after the first mutiny.
One of the soldiers who spoke to SaharaReporters stated that he and his colleagues want military authorities to be more focused in their approach to the war against Boko Haram. “We can finish them [Boko Haram] without difficulty, but the commanders don’t give us enough weapons for operations. And they send only a few of us to fight hundreds of Boko Haram fighters,” he said.
Maiduguri, the capital of Borno State, has been the flashpoint of numerous bloody attacks by Boko Haram.