Molly Kilete, Abuja
The Nigerian Army said it would set up a General Court Martial (GCM) to try soldiers of Special Forces who embarked on a protest at the Maiduguri airport two weeks ago.
This is just as the Army has warned that it would not tolerate any act of indiscipline from its officers and men no matter the provocation, saying that the law and ethics, with which the Nigerian Army is guided, would take its full course on errant soldiers.
The Army specifically warned that would not tolerate any act of mutiny from soldiers engaged in the counter-terrorism operations in the North Eastern part of the country.
Theatre Commander in charge of Operation LAFIYA DOLE, Maj.-Gen. Abbah Dikko, gave the warning during a lunch at the Maiduguri Military Command Center, at the weekend.
Gen. Dikko, who condemned the act of mutiny embarked by the soldiers who took to protesting and shooting sporadically at the Maiduguri airport to protest their deployment from Borno State to another local government area in the state, used the occasion to remind the soldiers of their oath of recruitment when voluntarily joined the military.
He said that oath must be respected and maintained as long as they remain in the services of the Nigerian Army.
Gen. Dikko’s words, “You have decided to put your life on the line for the territorial integrity of Nigeria. So, it is very important that we are reminded of our roles and responsibilities to the nation and our responsibility to the society, most importantly our responsibility to ourselves because we are not a conscript army. We are a regular military.
“Those who have volunteered to serve and that is the only time you will volunteer, subsequently having offered your service. It is the responsibility of the services to deploy you where they find you appropriate.
“So, it is important that we continue to retain our professional comportment so that we can serve diligently. It’s important that we uphold the values and ethics of the system that we belong to.
“It is also important that we understand it is a service to our fatherland. It is not a service to ourselves.
“The bedrock of your service as a soldier is discipline. A soldier must remain disciplined at all times. A soldier must obey instructions.
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While noting that the soldiers who protested at the Maiduguri International Airport would be disciplined in accordance with military law, the Theatre Commander continued, “We don’t punish in the military. We discipline. Discipline is the bedrock of the job.
“If there’s no discipline, then we can’t have an army. So if a soldier errs, he must be corrected.
“We are focused and doing what we are supposed to do in order to finish the assignment that we’re given. No matter what it takes, we’ll do it professionally. Everybody is motivated and well catered for.
“There are some that are not here and you don’t know what they’re going through. You cannot say you’ve heard them complaining that they’re not in the townships.
“Some are in locations that are out of reach. So we must understand the difficult times we find ourselves,”.
It would be recalled that soldiers of the Special Forces had embarked on a protest and shooting into the air at the Maiduguri International Airport to protest their deployment from the state capital to Marte local government local government area of the state.
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The aggrieved soldiers, who were said to have arrived the airport at about 6:00pm on the fateful day ahead of their posting, refused to board the aircraft that was to convey them to their new operational area on the grounds that they have spent over four years in Maiduguri, without seeing their families.
It was gathered that the protesting soldiers refused pleas from their superiors including that of the General Officer Commanding (GOC), 7 Division, Brigadier General Bulami Biu, who were advised to stay away from the airport or risk being shot.
Their action was said to have caused tension at the airport as members of the second batch of pilgrims who were going for hajj from the state boarded their flight amid fear of being attacked.