The Army said yesterday that its involvement in the counter-terrorism operations in the North-East was taking a huge toll on its finances, equipment and personnel.
The Director of Army Public Relations(DAPR), Brigadier-General Olajide Laleye, who made this known at a briefing in Abuja, also said many of its personnel were killed, while others have sustained life-threatening injuries that they may have to live with for the rest of their lives.
He, however, restated Army’s commitment to adhere to the rules of engagement and operation in the campaign and solicited public co-operation and understanding in providing useful and timely information to security agencies to enable them perform better.
He said: “Prosecuting a large-scale counter-insurgency operations, as well as numerous other operations in aid of civil authority in virtually every state of the federation has put pressure on the personnel and resources of the Army.
According to him, “in several instances, Nigerian Army personnel have had to pay the supreme price for the safety of all of us, while others have sustained life-threatening injuries which they may have to manage for the rest of their lives”.
Worried by the circumstance, Gen. Laleye said the Chief of Army Staff, had come up with new directives to address the increasing number of deaths and injured personnel during operations, part of which was to allow families of deceased and incapacitated soldiers to continue to receive salaries and allowances of their breadwinners until the entitlements of the affected officers and men had been fully paid.
Before now, Laleye noted that salaries and allowances of deceased soldiers were stopped three months after their death, but “the Chief of Army Staff has directed that forthwith, the Army would ensure the continued sustenance of the family of deceased personnel until all the entitlements of the affected personnel have been settled.
He said all personnel have been directed to ensure that documentation and records on their next of kins are update d to ensure expeditious payment of entitlements.
On logistics, the Army spokesman urged the authorities to address the bottlenecks that are capable of hampering the smooth conduct of operations, adding that all segments of the Army have been directed to undertake equipment and material audit, with the view to identifying areas where they are in short supply.
He said: “The Army will enforce strict compliance with maintenance policy to ensure that equipment are put to optimal use to enable personnel embark on long campaigns as well as combat in defence of the Constitution, the citizenry and every inch of the territory of the federation”.
From MOLLY KILETE. Abuja