Petition: Unpaid Allowances Allegations

Service chiefs newly appointed in the three branches of security face a significant challenge as a group of soldiers had accused the Nigerian Army high command of mistreatment and misappropriation of their allowances.

The soldiers, in a petition to President Bola Tinubu, claimed that their allowances, including the N700,000 disembarkation allowance given to each soldier upon completion of counter-terrorism/insurgency operations in the North-East have been withheld.

According to the petition, the soldiers alleged that their salaries and allowances have been manipulated by the Nigerian Army high command in collaboration with successive ministers of Defence, Finance, and Justice, as well as the Accountant-General of the Federation, Chief of Defence Staff, and National Security Adviser.

These officials, who are responsible for overseeing the proper implementation of government policies, were accused of neglecting their duty, thereby enabling the Chief of Army Staff to abuse his power.

Anonymous personnel from the headquarters, Joint Taskforce, Operation ‘Hadin Kai’ North-East Theatre, Maiduguri, Borno State, who identified themselves as ‘patriots’, expressed these allegations and more in an open letter to President Bola Tinubu.

However, the Army refuted the allegations, asserting that the federal government’s Integrated Payroll and Personnel Information System (IPPIS) directive had been fully implemented for the past six years.

The Army claimed that salaries and allowances were being directly paid to individual soldiers, and there was no outstanding disembarkation allowance owed to any soldier.

The petitioner further claimed that soldiers have been subjected to mistreatment regarding their welfare, social security, and income support, resulting in persistent dissatisfaction and immense hardship among junior army officers.

“Since May 2023, almost two thousand combatants who have completed their duty in NE operation are currently undergoing rotation exercise. Each soldier is entitled to seven hundred thousand naira as disembarkation allowance which General Farouk Yahaya (COAS) denied them.

“On their arrival to Jaji Cantonment, the already exhausted or fatigue soldiers from counter-insurgency operation were compelled to harsh or dehumanising treatment such as eight hours tracking, inadequate feeding, poor medication and poor sanitary facilities.

“Servicemen who have sacrificed their lives for the peace of Nigeria for many years in the battlefield have only to be subjected to slavery at Jaji, Kaduna.

“Even when this military personnel had endured short payment of their operational allowances in the North-East for years, the authority at the Nigerian Army School of Infantry under Maj-Gen O. A. Olatoye (Commandant) still denied them disembarkation allowance which would have eased their transportation to their various units.

“It was so bad and unethical that soldiers who returned from war had to transport themselves to many formations/units out of their meagre salaries in our unsecured roads which had become terrorists, bandits and kidnappers’ hub.

“Soldiers were used at the theatre and dumped at Jaji Military Cantonment as they scramble for food daily like refugees. It is the responsibility of the authority to provide adequate feeding, protection/safety, transportation and medical care to personnel, but the reverse was the case,” the petition stated.

The petition added: “Additionally, NA since 2017 has failed to implement (MAFA 2017) Manual Financial Administration document which former President Muhammadu Buhari signed into law. In the said document, personnel salary/wages/allowances have been increased, but only 30% is being paid to soldiers despite billions of naira released to the Army yearly.

“Till date, soldiers don’t know their actual salary as the payment varies in figures for personnel on the same rank. The authority under the watch of Lt. Gen F. Yahaya had continued to impoverish their subordinates to misery.

“Many personnel have turned to robbers, kidnappers and criminality of all sorts because their entitlements are not given to them by the authorities concerned. This is the reality of NA as soldiers are always being treated like thrash.

“Soldiers are appealing to His Excellency, President Bola Ahmed Tinubu, as a matter of urgency to direct NA authority to fully implement MAFA 2017 documents to avert the looming danger in the system… ”

Reacting to the allegations, Director of Army Public Relations, Brig.-Gen Onyema Nwachukwu, said: “The claims are not true as there is no such allowance as disembarkation allowance. As it stands today, no soldier is owed any operational allowance or any purported allowances as claimed, as they have been paid as a d when due.

“Additionally, the salaries of Nigeria Army personnel are handled by the Integrated Payroll and Personnel Information System (IPPIS) for over six years. Accordingly, salaries and allowances of personnel are credited into respective individual personnel’s accounts and not on the pay table.

“This process undoubtedly, provides zero opportunity for anyone or a group of persons to manipulate personnel’s entitlements.

“On deduction from the theatre of operations, both officers and soldiers are made to undergo the Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) programme aimed at psychologically desensitizing them from the physical and emotional stress of war.

“This is the Nigerian Army’s response to reports of some behavioural abnormalities in some personnel after they are rotated from the theatre of operations. PTSD program is a laudable response to address envisaged psychological disorders that arise innately or otherwise in the de-inducted personnel.

“No soldier is left unfed and uncatered for. The only challenge here is most of them just want to be left immediately to return home. But if this happens, the outcome will no doubt be chaotic and this is the reason they have to undergo the PTSD programme,” the statement added.