Protesting soldiers ground Maiduguri airport over redeployment

Soldiers of the Special Strike Forces deployed in Operation Lafiya Dole have protested against their posting to Marte, a Local Government Area, LGA, in Northern Borno State.

The soldiers reacted to the news of the latest posting on Sunday evening by firing gunshots in the air at the Maiduguri International Airport in the state capital.
The protest started when pilgrims meant for this year’s Hajj in Saudi Arabia were boarding their flight. The soldiers shot indiscriminately, forcing airport workers to scamper for safety as the pilgrims boarded their flight, which immediately took off.
The troops barricaded some section of the airport and fired shots in the air, even as no other flight was allowed into the airport.
While there was no indication that anyone was harmed in the melee, the troops warned that their Commanding Officer should stay away from the airport or they would shoot him.
The demonstrators, who were part of the special force deployed to provide air defence and enhance security at the airport, acted angrily in response to their deployment from the state capital to another local government area.
Speaking on the reason behind their action, one of them explained to NAN on Monday that, “The army special forces deployed to the airport were not trained to engage in ground battle rather trained to provide air defence.
“Our task is to provide air defence. Alas, special forces trained to fight ground battle are stationed in Maiduguri and we are deployed to go and die in Marte.”
Another soldier lamented to the news agency that the troops have overstayed in the North-East fighting Boko Haram, despite the rotation order by the military authorities.
He said: “Some troops of Operation Lafiya Dole were deployed and worked for over three years in the theatre (of operation) and not rotated as against the directives by the Chief of Army Staff, Lt.-Gen. Tukur Buratai.
“The command is directed to redeploy soldiers back to their bases after spending stipulated time in the theatre of operation.
“We have spent over three years in the northeast and we should be transferred out of the northeast and not within.”

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