Lagos Lawyer and rights activist, Mr. Femi Falana (SAN) has described President Goodluck Jonathan’s cancelled visit to Chibok, where over 200 school girls were abducted by the Boko Haram sect, as an expression of his fear for the soldiers in Borno State.
Falana, who made this known in a telephone interview with SUNDAY PUNCH said the president shelved his visit to the area not because he was afraid of the heavy presence of insurgents in the state but because he was uncertain of the action of the soldiers stationed there in view of their unruly behavior on Wednesday when they mutinied against the General Officer Commanding, GOC, 7 Infantry Division of the Nigerian Army in Maiduguri.
“Why did President Goodluck Jonathan cancel his visit to Chibok? Is he afraid of Boko Haram? No. He is afraid of the soldiers, his army. The mutiny that occurred in Chibok was a reaction against the way the authority is treating the soldiers. They are not happy. Even Jonathan admitted to these soldiers being ill-equipped during his last media chat. What happened to the trillions of naira budgeted for the army in the last three years?” Falana queried.
The Senior Advocate of Nigeria argued that Nigerian soldiers fighting Boko Haram were demoralised and not motivated.
“These soldiers are not motivated. For instance, for every soldier killed in Iraq or Afghanistan, the US Secretary of State sends a handwritten and signed letter to each family of the killed soldiers. The American government pays all their entitlements within two, three weeks or one month. The Americans care for their soldiers. They give the dead soldiers a hero’s burial.
“Here, we don’t even get to know the names of the fallen soldiers. Their families are not usually cared for. One thousand soldiers died and we don’t know them; we don’t have their names. The press is just reporting about Boko Haram and the number of people killed. No one is talking about the soldiers, the number and names of those killed and their families”, the human rights lawyer noted.
He also alleged that the soldiers were deployed to battle terrains they were not familiar with.
According to Falana, Nigerian soldiers are intelligent and valiant considering their famed exploits in Sierra Leone and Liberia.
Speaking further, he said, “The military authority commanded these valiant soldiers to go to terrains they don’t understand. It’s too easy for them to be ambushed by the insurgents. These are fantastic men who had done well in peacekeeping missions in Sierra Leone and Liberia. The Amnesty International’s report is true. The security operatives were given advance information about Boko Haram; but they claimed they had too many pieces of information they were working with”.