10 January 2016

Nigeria: Military Denies Report of Soldiers On Hunger Strike

The Defence Headquarters has denied reports that 3,000 soldiers embarked on hunger strike‎ over the army's failure to redeploy them five months after their re-engagement.

In a statement on Saturday, the army said it was dismayed at the report and described it as false.

"To put the record straight, the soldiers are enthusiastic and full of praises to the military authority that gave them another chance to re-unite with the folk for better services to their fatherland," said‎ Rabe Abubakar, a Brigadier General and Acting Director, Defence Information.

The Daily Trust reported on January 7 that some of the soldiers‎ alleged they had not been paid since their re-engagement last year.

Mr. Abubakar said it was worrisome when stories that border on national security are unsubstantiated.

"It is worrisome that a reputable newspaper of national outlook would source its story from unreliable social media without‎ corroboration with relevant authorities to ascertain the veracity of the news," he said.

"This practice negates the ethics of journalism and is grossly unprofessional.

"Information that threatens national security should be avoided and efforts should be intensified to confirm from highest authority before going to press.

"‎Press should also avoid fuelling tension, no matter the inherent personal gains, especially now that all hands are on deck to unite all Nigerians against insecurity and insurgency."

The defence spokesperson said it is a taboo for military personnel to embark on strike or do any of such things the newspaper reported.

"It has never happened and will not happen because we are disciplined, professional and highly loyal to the constituted authority. Such behaviour could only occur within unprofessional soldiers, and certainly not Nigerian military," Mr. Abubakar said.

"The Director Defence Information therefore restates that his door is widely open, round the clock, for whosoever wishes to clarify issues that border on defence and national security to do so in order to give correct information to citizens."

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