About 227 members of the Nigerian Army, who were allegedly dismissed by the General Officer Commanding (GOC) 3 Armoured Division Jos, Plateau State, yesterday protested their unlawful dismissal by the GOC, asking President Goodluck Jonathan and Chief of Army Staff, Lt. General Kenneth Minimah, to intervene in the matter with a view to reinstating them.
The soldiers, who stormed the Plateau State Nigeria Union of Journalists (NUJ) secretariat with placards bearing different messages, among them, “how can we fight without weapons and we need justice in Nigerian Army”.
The leader of the protesting soldiers, Sergeant Abiona Elisha, said, “We were dismissed this week Tuesday from the service of the Nigerian Army after sending us to go and suffer fighting insurgency in Adamawa, Yobe and Borno states.
“All of a sudden, we were recalled to the barracks and made to face trial. Even in the trial, we were not given the chance to defend ourselves. They just took decision and dismissed us. We were not even told what our offences were during the so-called trial.
“We are surprised that we can be treated like this in our own country. We were sent to fight insurgents without weapons. A lot of our colleagues were killed in the course of defending our fatherland. Even those who are in hospitals treating injuries they sustained from battle fields were also dismissed while still on hospital admission.
“The worst situation is that families of our colleagues killed in Adamawa and Yobe are languishing in hunger as Nigerian Army refused to pay their entitlements”.
The protesting soldiers further alleged that their families as well as personal property were ejected from the barracks before they arrived in Jos from their operational base in Borno, Adamawa and Yobe states.
However, when contacted, the deputy director, army public relation of the 3 Armoured Division Jos, Col. Texas Chukwu, denied knowledge of the dismissal of the soldiers.
He said, “I have no knowledge of the issue, I just came back from Maiduguri, I am not aware if any soldier was dismissed”.
Similarly, the Nigerian Army headquarters denied that there was a protest by soldiers in Jos.
The Director of Army Public Relations, Brigadier General Olajide Laleye, said he was yet to be briefed on any such development by the authorities of 3 Armoured Div. Jos.