Angry soldiers who stormed Maiduguri international airport in Borno state, have sparked pandemonium in the area as they shot indiscriminately to protest their deployment from the state capital to another local government.
Confusion ensued, after the angry soldiers arrived the airport by 6pm ahead of their posting to Marte local government area. The soldiers who regrouped and refused to board the aircraft which ought to convey them to their new place of deployment, said after spending over four years in Maiduguri, they ought to be sent back to their families and not to be posted to face death.
Vanguard reported that an army officer who witnessed the incident said superior officers, including Bulami Biu, general officer commander (GOC) of 7 division, were asked to stay off the airport or risk being shot by the special forces soldiers.
“The second batch of pilgrims from Borno boarded their flight amid the commotion,” the source said.
“The special forces are ready for trouble. They are really angry. The superiors were asked to stay off or be killed.”
However in a statement on Monday, Onyema Nwachukwu, Deputy Director Public Relations, Operation Lafiya Dole Theatre Command, said the protest by the soldiers happened while the command was conducting a redeployment of soldiers at the Maiduguri Airport, following a directive to review troops’ deployment in Maiduguri metropolis, to reinvigorate the security architecture of the city.
“The redeployment became expedient after a recent assessment of the security situation by the Theatre Command. Regrettably however, a few of the troops who had misunderstood the development and erroneously assumed it was going to negatively affect their rotation from the theatre of operation became agitated and reacted by firing into the air.
“Calm has however been restored, as the Theatre Commander, Major General Abba Dikko has promptly taken charge of the situation after addressing and admonishing the troops,” Mr Nwachukwu, a colonel said.
“The Theatre Command undoubtedly considers this ugly incident quite regrettable and appropriate measures are being taken to forestall a recurrence”, he added.
One of the protesting angry soldiers who spoke under condition of anonymity, said the planned deployment was against the directives by the Army Headquarters.
“The army special forces deployed to the airport were not trained to engage in ground battle rather trained to provide air defence.
“Our task is to provide air defence. Alas, special forces trained to fight ground battle are stationed in Maiduguri and we are deployed to go and die in Marte”.
NAN reported that another soldier lamented that the troops have overstayed in the Northeast fighting Boko Haram, despite the rotation order by the military authorities. He said many of them have spent over three years in the battle field.
“Some troops of Operation Lafiya Dole were deployed and worked for over three years in the theatre and not rotated as against the directives by the Chief of Army Staff, Lt.-Gen. Tukur Buratai.
“The command is directed to redeploy soldiers back to their bases after spending stipulated time in the theatre of operation.
“We have spent over three years in the northeast and we should be transferred out of the northeast and not within” he said.