Nigeria’s Chief of Defence Staff (CDS), Gen. Owoye Azazi, has said the country’s soldiers serving in peacekeeping missions are not shortchanged as some soldiers have led the public to believe. Speaking with the official News Agency of Nigeria, Gen.
Azazi also described as unfortunate and unacceptable the riot embarked upon by some troops at the 323 Artillery Unit in the South-west city of Akure, who recently returned from the joint UN/African Union Mission (UNAMID) in Darfur, Sudan. “It is very sad that even in the military, people accuse their commanders of embezzlement. My first priority is to send allowances to troops in foreign missions,” Azazi said.
“The Akure incident was very unfortunate. It is not acceptable. The culture in the military is such that soldiers should not go on rampage because a mistake was made,” he said.
On the allegations by the aggrieved soldiers that they were underpaid their entitlements, the CDS explained that the shortfall of two months pay for the battalion in Akure was due to the over-payment, by two months, of another battalion, from the northern city of Makurdi, that also served in Darfur.
“The battalion in Makurdi was paid two months allowances in excess, while the one in Akure had a shortfall of two months. A mistake had been made and while in the process of correcting the mistake was in progress, some soldiers went on rampage,” he said.
Army Spokesman, Brig.-Gen. Emeka Onwuamaegbu, said an inquiry had been launched into the Akure rampage, during which soldiers made bonfires from old tyres and blocked vehicular traffic.
To prevent a recurrence, Azazi also explained that the new system to be adopted would ensure that troops to be deployed on peacekeeping missions open a foreign currency accounts in banks into which the balance of their money would be paid on a monthly basis.
The Chief of Defence Staff revealed that every soldier serving in UN missions is entitled to US$1,028 per month and that some countries pay additional allowance to members of their contingents. Panapress .