Lai Mohammed: Soldiers deployed in North-East not begging for food, money

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The Federal Government has debunked an online publication alleging deplorable conditions of the troops fighting Boko Haram in the North-East, saying the report is a classic example of fake news.
Speaking at a press conference in Abuja on Tuesday, Information and Culture Minister, Alhaji Lai Mohammed, said in view of the grave security implication of the allegations contained in the publication, President
Muhammadu Buhari ordered an investigation to determine its veracity.
“Gentlemen, the investigation has since been concluded and, in line
with the transparent stance of this Administration, I have invited you
here today to share with you the outcome. The summary of the findings
is that there is no case of hunger, starvation or begging among the
troops fighting in the North East, and in particular in the Armed
Forces Special Forces Battalion that was referenced in the
publication.

”There is also no irregular/short payment of allowances, while claims
of poor equipment, inadequate kitting and accommodation are found to
be ill conceived and unfounded,” he said.

Mohammed said contrary to the publication, the troops in
question, deployed at Brig.-Gen. Maimalari Secondary School along
Gubio Road, are being fed centrally three times a day, and are kitted
immediately after their training before they are deployed in the
theatre.

“How then can soldiers who are fed centrally be starving or begging
for food? Concerning the payment of allowances, the monthly allowances
of troops of the AFSF Battalion are being paid directly into their
various accounts from the Defence Headquarters, hence they cannot be
shortchanged,” he said.

On the allegation of poor equipment and inadequate kitting, the
Minister said it was found that the inflow of logistics into the
theatre in the past six months showed an enormous quantity of materiel
was distributed to troops in the theatre.

“If anything, the publication in question exhibited poor understanding
of what obtains in the theatre of military operations. For example,
the claim of poor accommodation in an operational environment. By
their training, soldiers in theatres of war are usually in trenches,
tents or other makeshift structures. Fighting insurgency is not a walk
in the park and the gallant men and women in uniform who are engaged
in counter-insurgency operation in the North East are not on a
luxurious expedition. The battlefront is no playground,” he said.

Mohammed warned that engaging in fake publication about the
troops is not only a great disservice to the nation, but a terrible
downplay of the kind of sacrifices being made by the gallant troops in
fighting the insurgency.

He said such fake reports amount to collaborating with fifth
columnists and enemies of the nation to weaken the fighting spirit of
our forces, and represent a clear and present danger to the nation’s
security.

While restating the administration’s belief in the freedom of the
press, the minister appealed to the media to always commit to the
highest standards of journalism by double-checking with the government
before publishing any information from the theatre of operation in the
North East.

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