As the countdown to the December deadline set by President Muhammadu Buhari to end insurgency in Nigeria, thewhistler has learnt that morale amongst soldiers is at its lowest as Boko Haram fighters seem to be gaining grounds in their terrorist attacks.
Last Sunday, the Islamists destroyed a Nigerian military base in Gulak, North Eastern Nigeria, as allegedly soldiers fled but for the fighters of the civilian JTF that held off the terrorists until the military sent reinforcements.
Former council chairman James Ularamu was quoted by The Associated Press as saying that the Boko Haram elements burned down the military base.
A source, who asked not to be named because of the sensitivity of the matter and as he was not authorised to speak, told this newspaper that soldiers were equally worried how 107 soldiers were secretly buried without “any dignity.”
According to the source, the continued denial of the military authorities was telling on the psyche of the soldiers who are in the forefront against the insurgents, expressing worry that the president was yet to make any meaningful headway in procuring arms as he boasted during the campaigns or visit the troops especially in Maiduguri, the epic center of the insurgency.
Buhari, last month, took time off his private attendance at the wedding ceremony of children of former Vice President Atiku Abubakar to visit troops in Yola, Adamawa state.
Though the army has continued to deny that 107 soldiers were missing from the 157 Battalion with the authorities claiming that they had rejoined their unit, some relatives of the missing combatants say they were yet to hear from them.
A relative, who asked to be addressed as only Efe, from Warri in Delta State, appealed to the army to stop lying about the fate of the missing soldiers for the good and morale of those in the frontline against the insurgents.
“They know that they are not telling the whole truth. We also understand that they don’t want to give the terrorists something to celebrate about, but with the way things have happened, it is better the truth is told that our relatives, fathers, brothers and uncles died and were secretly buried. If the army fails to act on this, we will damn the consequences and speak out,” Efe warned.
Nigeria’s online newspaper, Premium Times, was the first to report that soldiers from the 157 Battalion, including their commanding officer, were missing in action along with the tank, three artillery guns and eight trucks including one carrying 60,000 rounds of ammunition.