A report by the Independent Monitors Project (IMP) has rubbished insinuations that 365 soldiers retired due to low morale in the fight against Boko Haram/ ISWAP terorists.
IMP said after a week-long extensive investigation and assessment of the North-East, it discovered that contrary to speculations, the troops are in high spirits, dedicated and commited to winning the war.
In the report signed by Special Rapporteur, Udo Toby, IMP revealed that a bulk of the soldiers voluntarily disengaged on health grounds while others reached the 35- year statutory age for retirement and had nothing to do with Boko Haram war.
Among others, the group said it uncovered a campaign to distract the troops following renewed onslaught against the terrorists led by the Chief of Army Staff, Lt. Gen. Tukur Buratai.
It added that some desperate individuals and groups even offered as much as $50,000 and a further promise of a monthly payment of $1,000 for one year to soldiers to abscond from duty.
While commending the troops for remaining patriotic, steadfast and resilient, the Independent Monitors Project, however, urged the military to always engage the media with information as regards the activities of agents of the Boko Haram group.
The Independent Monitors Project
A special report by the Independent Monitors Project on the alleged demoralization of Nigerian Troops in operation in North-East Nigeria.
The Independent Monitors Project an investigative Platform of online news portals undertook a strategic assessment of the operations of the Nigerian troops in the theatre of operations in North-East Nigeria to put issues in proper perspectives with regards to the effectiveness or otherwise of the operations of the Nigerian Military in North-East Nigeria.
The Independent Monitors Project consequently deployed an array of investigative reporters from member online news portals to undertake a critical study in North-East Nigeria with a mandate to highlight the actual state of things in light of the news making the rounds that frontline troops are demoralized.
The Investigative reporters relied on primary sources of information that involved on the spot visits, interaction with troops in the frontline, as well as commanders. Information was also gathered from community and religious leaders in the various communities in North-East Nigeria. Emphasis was also placed on documentary pieces of evidence on the operation of the troops at the frontline in core areas of operations around the fringes of the Lake Chad Basin Region.
There have been speculations on the operations of the Nigerian troops in North-East Nigeria citing fatigue and low morale and lack of fighting spirits from the frontline troops owing to the disengagement of over 360 soldiers.
The news alleged that this action has dampened the morale of troops and consequently led to lethargy and responsible for the recent attacks by the Boko Haram terrorist group.
The team of investigative reporters after an extensive two weeks investigative assessment in North-East Nigeria observed as a first-line that the situation on the ground was not a reflection of the news making the rounds in some news platforms.
Our team observed that what was on the ground was a professional fighting force exhibiting a very high level of dedication and commitment to winning the war against the Boko Haram terrorist group.
It also observed that there is a strong level of teamwork in the operations of the troops in the frontlines with a detailed command structure that has indeed yielded the much-desired result in confining the activities of the Boko Haram terrorist group to the fringes of the Lake Chad Basin region.
The information gathered from some top military commanders indicated that there is an ongoing campaign to distract the troops which are borne as a result of the renewed onslaught against the Boko Haram group led by the Chief of Army Staff and other top commanders in North-East Nigeria. This stance indeed restricted the operations of some groups that are sympathetic to the Boko Haram group.
It was also identified that the introduction of strict clearance procedures for the operations of NGOs and humanitarian workers in North-East Nigeria restricted access to the theatre of operations unlike in times past where some NGOs were granted unhindered access to the theatre of operations from which some unscrupulous ones consequently render logistic support to the Boko Haram group.
This new stance of the Military has strategically cut off medical and other logistic supplies to the Boko Haram group from the Nigerian territory as well as from the neighboring countries as a result of the renewed commitment of the Multinational Joint Task Force in operation.
The team of reporters observed that the troops enjoy an excellent relationship with the various community and religious leaders in areas of their operations. This alliance has indeed made the operations of the Boko Haram group difficult and hence the campaign of smear against the Nigerian Military sponsored by some agents of terrorist cells the Boko Haram group has affiliations with.
The team of reporters gathered from credible sources that there is an ongoing drive to influence officers and soldiers stationed in the frontline to abscond from their duty posts and the Nigerian Army in return for substantial monetary rewards. It was gathered that some soldiers were offered as much as $50,000 and a further promise of a monthly payment of $1,000 for one year should they elect to resign their commission from the Nigerian Army.
It was also discovered that the news of the disengagement of 360 soldiers was anchored on the earlier plan to influence the mass exodus of officers and soldiers from the Nigerian Army in the frontline. It was gathered that the news was meant to complement and amplify the mass decommissioning of officers and soldiers.
The team of reporters gathered that overtures were also made to soldiers in the frontline to join the ranks of the depleted Boko Haram group in return for hefty rewards. This move was countered by the relocation of the Chief of Army Staff to the Theatre of Operations after a restructuring of the Command and Operations which saw to the redeployment of officers and soldiers that might have been compromised or with tendencies to fall for the bait offered by agents of the Boko Haram group.
The Independent Monitors Project after a careful analysis of the various issues in the operations of the Nigerian Military in North-East Nigeria, it concludes that there is no iota of truth in the news making the rounds on the demoralization of the troops in the frontlines.
What is indeed the case is a troop highly committed to preserving the territorial integrity of Nigeria. The troops are in high spirits and working as a team in its operations. The commanders in the Theatre of Operation have been leading in an exemplary manner that has put the troops in prime position to counter the pockets of threats posed by the remnants of the Boko Haram group.
The troops are motivated to fight and win the war against the Boko Haram Insurgency.
The Independent Monitors Project as a result of the observations in the Theatre of Operations as a result of this makes the following recommendations:
It is imperative for the Nigerian Army to continually engage the media constituencies with information as regards the activities of agents of the Boko Haram group.
The military authorities must take control of the narrative at every point in time to ensure that the troops are not distracted by the antics of the Boko Haram group.