Army releases Statement on Soldiers’ Protest at Maiduguri Airport

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The Nigerian Army has released a statement on the protest by soldiers at Maiduguri Airport on Sunday during a redeployment exercise.

Premium Times reports that the protesting soldiers said they had overstayed in the state and were resisting redeployment to Marte, one of the towns liberated from the control of Boko Haram terrorists by the army.

One of the protesting soldiers said:

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.

Another soldier said:

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.

The troops were said to have barricaded some sections of the airport and fired shots in the air. Hundreds of pilgrims waiting to be airlifted to Saudi Arabia for Hajj scampered for safety as the incident occurred.

In a statement by Colonel Onyema Nwachukwu, Deputy Director Public Relations, Operation Lafiya Dole Theatre Command, on Monday, the army said calm has been restored.

Nwachukwu said:

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.

The Theatre Command undoubtedly considers this ugly incident quite regrettable and appropriate measures are being taken to forestall a recurrence.

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