A Nigerian soldier has said that he has witnessed several incidents that suggest that some Nigerian military commanders are working with the outlawed Boko Haram militant group blamed for thousands deaths since 2009.
In an exclusive interview with the Hausa service of the Voice of America (VOA), he described how his military unit based in the north-eastern Borno State was ambushed by Boko Haram fighters.
The military officer, who did not want to be identified, said the commander of a nearby military unit based in Bama town recently sought assistance from his unit in carrying out a raid.
He said when the two military units joined up, they were given different uniforms. The Bama unit commander gave his own troops green uniforms while his unit received tan “desert camouflage” uniforms.
When the troops reached the battle area, the commander of the better-equipped Bama unit suddenly withdrew his forces, leaving the remaining troops to fend for themselves against Boko Haram fighters.
Speaking in Hausa, he said, “We had only light arms and our men were being picked off one after the other.”
The officer also said he recognised some of the Boko Haram fighters as his former military trainers in Kontagora, Niger State.
“We realised that some of them were actually mercenaries from the Nigerian army… hired to fight us,” he said.
The officer and others have often accused the military commanders of diverting money that was supposed to be used to help equip units into their pockets.
Repeated attempts to get reaction from the Nigerian government on this allegation proved abortive.
In a January 2012 speech, President Goodluck Jonathan said Boko Haram members had infiltrated his government’s executive, legislative and judicial sectors as well as the police and armed forces.