Last year more than 700 Nigerian soldiers from the army, police, navy, air force, and state security service (SSS) underwent a rigorous selection to serve at the Armed Forces Special Force (AFSF). The special forces were later flown to Russia and Belarus for training as high-class snipers to strengthen the fight against Boko Haram insurgents.
According to Sahara Reporters, the trainees were paid $7,700 or 30% of their Duty Transport Allowance (DTA), and promised payment of the 70% balance (about $18,000) on their return to Nigeria. However, six months later the snipers are still waiting to be paid their rightfully earned allowances. Some of them started to suspect senior army officers of corrupt misappropriation of funds.
An unnamed sniper commented on the situation: “May be some of these senior officers are waiting for some of us to die so that they may steal our money. Before we went to Belarus, they were supposed to pay our allowances in full. But they gave us 30%, promising that we would get the remaining 70% when we return.”
Another sniper added: “Up till now, we have not seen anything. We came back December 12, 2015. Till now, I don’t know what they are waiting for. They didn’t tell us how much the whole money was, but if they can pay you 30%, which was $7,700, then you do the calculation. The remaining percentage that is left, till now, we are yet to see anything and nobody is talking about it.” Sambisa instead of Aso Rock The deceived soldiers also expressed their discontent with police and SSS members who undertook the sniper training but were deployed to Aso Rock, while ordinary snipers were sent to Sambisa Forest with soldiers after returning to Nigeria. “The police and SSS members received the initial payment, yet they have not joined us in operations.
There is no reason why those of us who are advancing into the forest should not be paid. Eight policemen advanced with us but they were later removed. SSS didn’t advance with us although they went for training with us, got the same allowance that we got and nobody is making use of them for this operation. But those of us in the Army, Navy and Air Force, we face the problem of the nation totally. And we that are in the operation, we are facing casualties and there is no plan to balance up our money.” “Are we cannon fodder?” One sniper harshly criticised the treatment he and his colleagues had received on their return back home. He said: “We were promised that when we come back we would get your 70% of the allowance to make sure that things like house and car would not be our problems. The payment was supposed to give us rest of mind.
That’s why we went there and trained hard. We faced the rigorous aspect of the training. All of us did the training to the maximum. If you were not fit, they discovered from your heartbeat and they returned you. They returned at least two men. We are still fighting with the manual system, but war has gone beyond that. A lot of equipment was given to us in Russia, and they make us different from the conventional soldiers. This issue of the allowance is serious. We are risking our lives to defeat them [Boko Haram].
So why are we sacrificing our lives and the country is not paying us what we were promised?”
Source: Sahara Reporters