By Maryam Hassan
The Minister of Information and Culture, Lai Muhammed, on Tuesday, condemned media reports alleging that Nigerian troops are subjected to devastating conditions in the North-Eastern part of the country.
DAILY NIGERIAN reports that some sections of the media had reported that troops deployed to the North-eastern part of the country to fight Boko Haram insurgents were subjected to sub-human living conditions.
A phantom Corporal, with the pseudonym Gandoki, said to be serving with one of the Special Forces Units in the theatre of operation, in a publication alleged that troops lacked basic necessities for battlefield.
The publication reported that troops deployed in particular along Gubio Road and the Brig.-Gen. Maimalari Secondary School were begging for food to survive, were poorly kitted and were facing irregular/short payment of their allowances.
The publication also reported non-serviceable equipment in the theatre.
But, the minister, during a press conference in Abuja, said all the allegations are false and baseless, adding that such false information pose grave implications to the nation’s security.
According to him, the publication in question exhibited a poor understanding of what obtains in the theatre of military operations.
Mr Mohammed, however, pointed out that, in line with the transparent stance of the administration, investigations had since been concluded and all the allegations were found out to be untrue.
He asserted that the troops were being fed centrally three times a day, and are kitted immediately after their training before they are deployed in the theatre.
“Concerning the payment of allowances, the monthly allowances of troops of the AFSF Battalion are being paid directly into their various accounts from the Defence Headquarters, hence they cannot be short-changed,” he noted.
Mr Mohammed lamented that “such reports amount to collaborating with fifth columnists and enemies of the nation to weaken the fighting spirit of our fighting forces.”
He further explained that, “fighting insurgency is not a walk in the park and the gallant men and women in uniform who are engaged in counter-insurgency operation in the North East are not on a luxurious expedition.
“The battlefront is no playground. Our men are making great sacrifices for us as a nation. They stay awake and are constantly in harm’s way so that you and I can sleep well and be safe.”
“The publication of what I can now call fake news about the troops on September 21 is not only a great disservice to the nation, but a terrible downplay of the kind of sacrifices being made by our gallant troops.”
The minister, therefore, appealed to the media to check the veracity of whatever information they receive from any source before publishing such.
“It is particularly necessary to double-check with the government before publishing any information from the theatre of operation in the North East,” he added.
He affirmed that this administration is a firm believer in the freedom of the press, and will not do anything to jeopardize that freedom.
“On its part, the press must always commit to the highest standards of journalism,” he pleaded.