Bama: Brig. Gen, colonels, others face trial for cowardice

Fidelis Soriwei- THE PUNCH Newspaper

Indications emerged on Monday that the military high command is investigating all officers and some soldiers at the 21 Artillery Brigade, Bama over the September 2, 2014 invasion of the barracks by Boko Haram.

A senior security source, who confided in our correspondent, said military authorities had questioned all the officers, comprising a Brig. Gen., a colonel, a Lt. Col. and other officers, attached to the Bama Brigade.

The military leadership was also said to be holding the officers and soldiers responsible for the number of arms and ammunition carted away by the Boko Haram fighters.

It was also learnt that the main focus of the impending trial was the issue of arms and ammunition carted away by the insurgents.

The source said that while the Army had questioned all those attached to the military formation in Bama, the officers had yet to appear before any court martial.

It was gathered that the military was embittered that the officers and soldiers did not make any serious effort to defend the large cache of arms and ammunition that were kept at the Bama Barracks for a planned operation designed to end the activities of the insurgents in the North-East.

The source said that those in control of the barracks and their men simply fled the barracks into safety in Maiduguri.

The source said it was the general belief in military circles that what happened in Bama was not different from “a donation of arms and ammunition to the insurgent” which the military leadership had sworn to address.

It was further gathered that a top officer of the Brigade left Bama and was sighted in a hospital where he was said to have told the medical personnel that he had high blood pressure.

It was stated that the military leadership was in pain at the realisation that it took the Boko Haram over three days to cart away the arms and ammunition in question.

It was further learnt that military authorities decided to move the 21 Armoured Brigade of the Nigerian Army out of its original location in Maiduguri to Bama to ensure effective prosecution of the campaign against the insurgents.

Bama is considered nearer to the theatre of operations.

The source said, “The issue is that these people simply did not stay to fight. They abandoned the armoury for the Boko Haram to cart away a lot of arms and ammunition; and I can say that very heavy armament is involved here.

“In the military, you don’t have to be told that it is your responsibility to defend your barracks; they are being charged for cowardice. Every one of them will be tried.

“It is not only the Brigade Commander that is involved. All the officers in the Brigade from Brigadier General to Colonel, to Lt. Colonel, to Major and down to Lieutenants; one by one have been categorised with the equipment under their control.

“And you must note that Bama is a Brigade headquarters and has a battalion under it. The Brigade headquarters was moved out of Maiduguri to Bama because of an intended onslaught against the insurgents.

“The equipment that was being stored for this operation was taken away by the Boko Haram; these people simply donated them to the Boko Haram. The insurgents were packing the arms and ammunition for about three days. In fact, they are fighting us with some of these weapons.”

Another military source said that the leadership of the military would address the issue of cowardice which was a grave offence under the military law.

The source said that the military top leadership would not allow any distraction from any quarters to ensure that decisive steps were taken to instill discipline in the army.

However, another security source explained that it was difficult for the soldiers to stop the Boko Haram attack because of the state of the barracks which was said to be without fence.

“There is no fence around the barracks; they only dug mounds of sand around the barracks. While the general was there, the place was not safe. The place was not strongly fortified so it didn’t take them long to overrun the barracks,” the source said.

When contacted, the Director of Defence Information, Maj. Gen. Chris Olukolade, on the impeding massive trial of officers and men of the Bama Brigade, said that it was possible for anyone whose actions were found to be unprofessional and questionable to be arraigned.

He said, “Anyone whose role in the operation is considered unprofessional and questionable can be arraigned. It would be left for such a person to explain himself before the appropriate military legal process.”


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