The Nigerian Army has begun the process of rotating soldiers deployed to the North east to fight the Boko Haram insurgency, the icirnigeria.org can exclusively report.
According to a signal seen by our reporter on Wednesday, soldiers and officers who have spent more than two years in the region fighting insurgents are expected to be replaced very soon.
The signal, signed by O. O. Cole, a Major, and transmitted on January 19, 2016 from 7 Division in Maiduguri, Borno State capital, to the 5 Brigade in Monguno is to have been sent to all units in its operational area and a reply expected in both hard and soft copies not later than Friday, January 22, 2016.
Rotation of troops in the Army, particularly in war situations, is a routine exercise aimed not only at injecting new boots into the battle but also easing the burden of fighting on soldiers so that they are not engaged in combat for too long. It was learnt that two years is the standard deployment period for soldiers involved in war.
Feelers from some military formations across the country indicate that some have started pooling soldiers together preparatory to their deployment to the North east.
For example, there was an emergency assembling of soldiers at the 244 Recce Battalion barracks in, Saki, Oyo State, on Tuesday, January 20, 2016 after an emergency bugle was sounded.
According to an army source, who cannot be named because he is not officially authorised to speak with journalists, the Commanding Officer of the 224 Recce Battalion received a call on Tuesday from 2 Brigade in Sobi Cantonment, Ilorin, the Kwara State capital, asking him to produce 100 soldiers and two officers latest by Friday.
According to our findings, some soldiers have been in the North east for three years, which is considered long in the army.
Explaining the implications of troops overstaying in a war zone, an officer said such troops can easily be compromised to divulge more than they should because they have over familiarised themselves with the locals.
“A soldier, who has stayed long in a place may get married to a local and when that happens, don’t you think he will have sympathy for her people and may even tell them what he should not,” the officer said, adding that the long absence also has grave consequence on soldiers’ marriages and family life.
“So many women have left their husbands because they have been away for too long. There is a senior soldier right now, who has married a local in Maiduguri and abandoned his family back home,” said the officer.
The Director, Army Public Relations, Sani Kukasheka, Usman, declined commenting on the development. When our reporter reached him on his mobile phone, curiously, he directed him to speak with Air Commodore D.J. Alonge, the spokesperson of the Nigerian Airforce, or Brigadier General Rabe Abubaka, the Director, Defence Information