A soldier who refused to disclose his identity has written a letter to President Muhammadu Buhari to complain about alleged corruption in the army.
The officer on the frontline of the war against insurgency wrote the letter in reaction to the army’s dismissal of the complaints of Abdulrauf Aliyu, a private of the Nigerian army.
Aliyu had complained that he was abandoned after being shot by suspected Boko Haram insurgents.
But Sani Usman, spokesman of the army, denied the allegation, saying Aliyu was declared a deserter for leaving the hospital while receiving treatment without being cleared by the authorities.
Usman said as a deserter, Aliyu should be apprehended and handed over to the nearest military unit or police station, if seen.
“This is a clear case of a deserter from the Nigerian army trying to run a campaign of calumny against the Nigerian army on social media,” Usman had said.
But the soldier who wrote the letter spoke in defence of Aliyu and also drew attention to the plight of his colleagues.
He said knowing what they signed for, soldiers “expect to die in the hands of the enemy, not in the hands of the Nigerian Army”.
Part of the letter reads:
“Having read the online correspondence between Dr. Idris Ahmed of CUPS and our Army spokesman, Brigadier General S.K. Usman, I have decided to take a major risk and write to your Excellency directly over this issue.
“Sir, I am a course-mate of Pvt. Abdulrauf Aliyu, who Oga S.K. claimed that he has gone AWOL. We trained at the same company, Depot Nigerian Army, Zaria, Kaduna State. We are presently posted to Operation LAFIYA DOLE.
“On behalf of all the colleagues of Pvt. Abdulrauf Aliyu, I categorically refute the allegation that Pvt. Abdulrauf Aliyu deserted the Army. The Sections 59 – 63 of the Armed Forces Act, Cap A20, Laws of the Federation of Nigeria 2004, as quoted by Oga S.K., has always been mentioned by our superiors, to protect themselves and antagonise us, whenever they have done mischief.”
He added that the case of Pvt. Abdulrauf Aliyu is actually not an isolated one as there are many such cases of soldiers who got wounded on the battlefront.
“Unfortunately, due to corruption in the system, some unfortunate soldiers, mostly from less privileged backgrounds, are left to fend for themselves. Like myself, Pvt. Abdulrauf Aliyu comes from a humble family. He sustained life-threatening injuries in the abdomen during a routine operation.
“The initial first aid treatment and medical care that he received was very inadequate. With full Army permission, Pvt Abdulrauf Aliyu and his family paid for his transfer to University of Maiduguri Teaching Hospital. Unfortunately, the care he received in Maiduguri Teaching Hospital too was inadequate. Eventually, his family had to pay for his transfer to a specialist facility in Sokoto.”
He added this is the third month in a row that “we have been denied of our operations allowance. We have to rely only on our meagre salary for everything. From battalion commanders, to company and sectors leaders, we are all in debt, because our salaries are not enough to sustain us at the battlefront while feeding our families back home.
“It is a big shame that we have joined the Army to defend the civilians, yet we have to go to the civilians in town to borrow money to fend for ourselves at the battlefront,” he said adding that the food the soldiers are fed are most times not fit for human consumption.