ABUJA — The Nigerian armed forces have seen a further decline in their numbers following the massive resignation of soldiers, who intel says are joining a local security group known as the ‘Eastern Security Networkʼ in the Biafra region.
In July 2020, a total of 356 Nigerian Army soldiers resigned from service, claiming they had lost interest in the job due to poor welfare and weapons.
The development sparked outrage among Nigerians who called the country’s security apparatus “failed.”
“Since December 2020, more and more soldiers have deserted the service to join local regional security groups like the Eastern Security Network in the East. Some are submitting a letter of resignation,” a senior military source said on Monday.
Mr. Nnamdi Kanu – an activist and leader of the separatist group, Indigenous People of Biafra, had promised that the group would pay double the salary of any soldier or policeman who leave the service to join the Eastern Security Network, a vigilante group that he set up last year to combat the violent Fulani herders and other terrorists in the region.
Meanwhile, members of the Nigerian House of Representatives have expressed concern over the massive resignation and desertion from service.
At a National Assembly plenary session in Abuja on Tuesday, lawmakers called for improved troop welfare, provision of welfare packages and ensuring military personnel are well motivated to defend the national territory and overcome security threats.
“That the army should continuously embark on orientation of soldiers – both old and new – about the reality of their jobs and the need to be committed to their country. This will reduce the number of soldiers leaving the army due to loss of interest,” reads a recommendation submitted by the committee set up by lawmakers to investigate the massive resignation of soldiers.
Chadian security forces fire upon protesters in southern town
At least four people were shot and wounded in Chad’s southern Mandoul region on Saturday when security forces fired upon a crowd demonstrating against last month’s military takeover, witnesses and hospital sources said.
Protesters in the town of Sarh, about 550 kilometres (340 miles) from the capital N’Djamena, banged pots and pans in a show of defiance against the military council that has taken over since Chad’s longtime ruler Idriss Deby was killed last month.
Police responded by firing into the crowd with live ammunition, witnesses said. One person who was shot in the abdomen is in critical condition, according to a medical worker who requested anonymity.
“Two of my friends were wounded by gunshots right in front of me, and spent more than an hour on the spot before they could be transported to the hospital,” Allaissem Bernodji Manace, who protested in Sarh, told Reuters.
“We lived through a terrible scene,” he said.
Civil society leaders in the neighbouring town of Koumra said that a dozen people were arrested during a parallel protest, to which security forces responded with beatings and teargas.
A representative of Chad’s military council declined to comment on the actions of security forces, but said the protesters were “just young people who marched through the streets creating traffic jams.”
The demonstrations in Mandoul occurred at the same time as a funeral for five people in N’Djamena who were killed on Tuesday during clashes between protesters and security forces.
The army’s response to those protests was condemned by some of Chad’s strongest allies, including France, the United States and the African Union.
The military council, led by Deby’s son, Mahamat Idriss Deby, has promised to hold elections within 18 months. Deby was killed on April 19 as he visited troops fighting rebels opposed his 30-year rule.
Chad’s transition is being closely monitored by its Western allies, who have worked with the central African nation to combat militants across the Sahel.
Nigeria: Kanu weeps over murder of non-state security commander
Contrary to the report of the Nigerian forces who claim to have attacked the ‘Eastern Security Network’ camp in Imo State, where they killed the commander alongside six other people in a shootout, Nnamdi Kanu who is the general-commander of the non-state security group that the Nigerian government had declared “illegal”, said “there was no shootout”.
The human rights activist disclosed that “Ikonso was killed in his house,… where he was sleeping in the middle of the night”.
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The Eastern Security Network (ESN), which is supported by majority citizens in the Eastern region of Nigeria alongside other citizens from other parts of the country, was formed by Mazi Nnamdi Kanu to fight terrorism and the killings committed by armed Fulani jihadists disguising as “herdsmen”.
When I’ll Declare Biafra, I’ll Be On Ground Myself — Nnamdi Kanu
Mr. Nnamdi Kanu, the leader of the Biafra separatist group – the Indigenous People of Biafra, IPOB, says he will not proclaim the eastern region of Nigeria as a sovereign state of “Biafra” from exile.
“I will be on ground myself,” said the human rights activist who has been in exile since 2017 after government forces raided his home where they killed 28 civilians in an attempt to assassinate him.
The renewed quest for an independent state of Biafra, has met brutality from the Nigerian government whose security forces have killed at least 1,000 people demanding a referendum, after the civil war that left more than 3.5 million civilians dead.
Nnamdi Kanu, whose parents died following the shock of the military raid on their home in Umuahia, has always pledged to restore the “Republic of Biafra” without minding the price.
His supporters who are predominantly Christian in the southern part of Nigeria believe that the disintegration of Nigeria and actualisation of an independent state of Biafra is the only solution to marginalization, including terrorism and killings by jihadists trying to invade the overrun Christian communities in the country.
“Prepare while we move together,” Kanu told “Biafrans” on Thursday via a short post on his Facebook page.
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