The Nigerian Army authorities have mandated soldiers travelling to go home to see their families to buy N6,000 torches for the service as one of the conditions for leaving, SaharaReporters has learnt.
Some of the affected soldiers told SaharaReporters that the practice was rife in 195 Battalion in Maiduguri, Borno State, where personnel seeking to travel to see their relations are made to purchase torches which are supposed to be provided by the military.
SaharaReporters gathered that only those personnel who purchased the item among other conditions were allowed to go and see their families.
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“In 195 Battalion, Maiduguri, they force soldiers to buy torches before they are allowed to go home and see their family. If you don’t buy a torch as an individual, you won’t be allowed to see your family whom you left for months or years.
“And the torch they said we must buy is ranging from N6,000 and above; otherwise, you won’t be allowed to go and see your people. Moreover, the torches are supposed to be provided by the army; it is part of their duty,” a source explained.
The mandatory purchase of torches for troops is in contrast to the Eldorado earlier promised by the Nigerian Army authorities for troops departing home to see their families.
Only in August, the army had announced that there would be a ‘welfare flight’ for soldiers and officers at the frontline who are on pass and wish to go see their families.
A pass, in the military parlance, is permission to be away from one’s unit for a limited period of time.
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Most soldiers and officers deployed from across the country in Operation Hadin Kai in the North-East travel hundreds of kilometres when on pass to go see their families.
In a statement, the Director, Army Public Relations, Brig.-Gen. Onyema Nwachukwu, had said the development was part of efforts to cater to the welfare of troops who were proceeding on pass to and fro the theatre of operations to other parts of the country.
SaharaReporters had also in June 2021 reported that the Chief of Army Staff, Lt.-Gen. Faruk Yahaya, promised that he would see to the welfare of the troops and address their challenges.
“We want to conclude this operation in the North-East,” Yahaya had said, “so that we can do other things; and that is the drive now.”
He had added that he wanted to familiarise himself with the challenges faced by the troops and ensure those challenges were tackled. (SaharaReporters)