Following the insurrection by soldiers in Maiduguri, leading to their indiscriminate shooting at the Maimalari Barracks on Wednesday, the Nigerian Army has removed the embattled General Officer Commanding (GOC), 7 Division, Nigerian Army Maiduguri, Major-General Ahmadu Mohammed, and replaced him with Brigadier-General M. Y. Ibrahim.
Mohammed narrowly escaped being killed by the angry soldiers, some of whom fired their guns at his car.
The soldiers were protesting the death of their colleagues, following an ambush by Boko Haram members on Tuesday. Already, a committee to investigate the mutiny has been set up by the military authorities.
According to a military source, Mohammed was removed because he had lost the confidence of his soldiers and it was in the best interest of the whole security operation that he was replaced.
It was further gathered that it was the Chief of Defence Staff (CDS), Air Chief Marshal Alex Badeh, instead of the Chief of Army Staff (COAS), Lt-Gen. Kenneth Minimah, who ordered the immediate withdrawal of the former GOC "to also save him from the wrath of the angry soldiers".
Minimah, however, approved the appointment of Ibrahim to fill the void created by the withdrawal of Mohammed and "to restore calm and focus in their operations".
Speaking further, the source revealed that the "soldiers have been dissatisfied with the way the former GOC has been handling things, especially with regards to funding and information management".
"Some of them even accused him of working for Boko Haram, alleging that most times he failed to act on vital clues and when he took decisions, they turned out to be misleading information, similar to the one that led to the ambush on Tuesday," the source said. THISDAY had reported yesterday how false lead by local informants had misled the military on its operational patrol to Chibok into the deadly ambush by Boko Haram terrorists.
The security source said the military is fed up with the way the locals, who claim to know the whereabouts of the Boko Haram, but usually lead them into the den of terrorists, including the latest one that led to the death of over four soldiers.
"The current casualty resulted from locals who misled the soldiers into an ambush and that is why the military has always been sceptical of the information given by these locals. This is not the first time it has taken place," the source said.
This is the fourth time since the creation of the 7 Division that the GOC has been removed. Major-General Obida Ethan was the pioneer GOC, but was replaced by Major-General Unsaid Bindawa, shortly before the retirement of Lt-Gen. Azubuike Ihejirika in January this year. Bindawa was retained by Minimah after the current COAS assumed office but was subsequently removed and replaced by Mohammed on February 7.
Since assuming office, Mohammed has been confronted with two mutinies, necessitating his removal on Wednesday.
But in a bid to get to the root cause of the latest insurrection by the soldiers, the Defence Headquarters restated yesterday that a military inquiry had been instituted into Wednesday's unruly behaviour by the soldiers, who shot indiscriminately to protest the ambush of their colleagues by suspected Boko Haram members.
Major-General Chris Olukolade, Director of Defence Information, Defence Headquarters (DHQ), revealed this during a visit to Maimalari Barracks in Maiduguri, where the shooting took place.
"On May 13, our troops who had been on an assignment in Chibok and were returning to Maiduguri when they were ambushed in Dalwa, a few kilometres to the city.
"One officer and five soldiers were killed, while a number of others were wounded,'" Olukolade said.
He added: "The division embarked on the normal recovery processes to recover the wounded soldiers for treatment and to evacuate the bodies of those killed to the morgue.
"The General Officer Commanding (GOC) was touched by the incident, so he wanted to sympathise with the troops by addressing those present. In the process, some soldiers became unruly and began to fire some shots into the air.
"The situation was quickly brought under control and normalcy restored in the cantonment and all normal operational activities are ongoing."
He said the inquiry would ascertain the exact situation of things based on which the military authorities would take next action.' Olukolade also confirmed the redeployment of the GOC by DHQ.
"The GOC has been redeployed based on the decision of the headquarters," he said.
He denied media reports that the GOC was wounded during the incident, saying: "The GOC or his aides were not wounded during the incident. Let me say again that nobody was injured during the incident."
He said his redeployment would not affect the ongoing war against terror by the Nigerian military. "Let me assure you that the military will sustain the current tempo in the fight against insurgents. The training of the Nigerian Army is such that this kind of change will not affect negatively the disposition of the troops in the fight against agents of insurgency in the country," Olukolade said.
He described the unruly behaviour as sad, saying: "The Nigerian Army is poised to uphold its principle of discipline and loyalty to service. The ongoing inquiry will provide a lasting solution to what happened on May 13. It is not in the character of Nigerian soldiers to be unruly."