Some top officers in the Nigerian Army have been accused by soldiers in Maiduguri, Borno State, of embezzling N16million donated by the Borno State Governor, Babagana Zulum, to build new barracks for military personnel fighting the Boko Haram insurgents.
SaharaReporters learnt from soldiers attached to the 195 Battalion, Maiduguri, that the governor donated the money to build the houses in Shuwari, a community on the outskirt of the Borno State capital, which is located along the popular Kano-Maiduguri Road.
According to one of the soldiers, Zulum recently gave the army commanders N16million to build the houses for personnel in the community.
Speaking with SaharaReporters, he noted that the authorities embezzled the fund and forced soldiers to use their allowances to build the houses.
“First, the Borno State Government gave the unit N16million to build new houses for soldiers in various locations in Shuwari, a community that was deserted before. So as the reconstruction process was being done by the government, the governor requested that soldiers should also have houses there in order to ensure safety of lives and properties of residents moving in,” one of the soldiers told SaharaReporters.
“Unfortunately, the commander and others embezzled the money and forced soldiers to build the houses on their own.”
Nigerian Soldiers, especially those deployed in Operation Lafiya Dole in the North-East, have always complained about poor welfare.
Some claimed they have not been given fragmental jackets (bullet-resistant vests) since they got drafted into the war theatre.
Some soldiers who spoke to SaharaReporters in May, 2021 also lamented that the army was owing them uniform and boot allowances and also made deductions from their salary in the name of a housing scheme.
They had added they had not been eating and feeding well since their deployment to Borno.
“There was no housing scheme in the pipeline that the new Chief of Army Staff met when he assumed office. No soldier was consulted, and questionnaires were not shared to sensitise or sample the opinion of troops.
“Our salary has not been increased; we still buy uniforms and boots for ourselves; we live in dilapidated buildings. We've not been paid a uniform allowance and boot allowance. You are deployed to a company, the company pays the sum of N150,000, but the Commanding Officer will pay each soldier N30,000,” a soldier had said.