Army says calm returns after rioting Boko Haram fighters barricade airport
Calm may have returned at the Maiduguri Airport, North-East Nigeria after a Sunday scene when Nigerian army group deployed to fight Boko Haram refused to take orders and barricaded the airport.
In a statement on Monday, Onyema Nwachukwu, Deputy Director Public Relations, Operation Lafiya Dole Theatre Command, confirmed that the situation has been brought under control, clarifying that the protest by the soldiers happened while the command was conducting a redeployment of soldiers at the Maiduguri Airport, following a directive to review troops’ deployment in Maiduguri metropolis, to reinvigorate the security architecture of the city.
“The redeployment became expedient after a recent assessment of the security situation by the Theatre Command. Regrettably however, a few of the troops who had misunderstood the development and erroneously assumed it was going to negatively affect their rotation from the theatre of operation became agitated and reacted by firing into the air.
“Calm has however been restored, as the Theatre Commander, Major General Abba Dikko has promptly taken charge of the situation after addressing and admonishing the troops,” Mr Nwachukwu, a colonel said.
“The Theatre Command undoubtedly considers this ugly incident quite regrettable and appropriate measures are being taken to forestall a recurrence”, he added.
NAN reports that the aggrieved soldiers claimed they had overstayed and were resisting redeployment to Marte, one of the towns liberated by the military several years ago from the control of Boko Haram terrorists.
The protesters are part of the special force deployed to provide air defence and enhance security at the airport.
The troops barricaded some section of the airport and fired shots in the air, causing pandemonium, as hundreds of pilgrims waiting to be airlifted to Saudi Arabia for the Hajj, scampered for safety..
One of the protesting soldiers who spoke under condition of anonymity, said the planned deployment was against the directives by the Army Headquarters.
“The army special forces deployed to the airport were not trained to engage in ground battle rather trained to provide air defence.