Some Nigerian soldiers injured in the line of duty have complained of neglect and non-payment of their allowances by the military authorities.
Some soldiers, who spoke to newsmen said that apart from their salaries, they were yet to receive the special disability compensation they are entitled to, while others claimed that civilian patients were given preferential treatment at the 44 Army Reference Hospital in Kaduna.
While soldiers whose injuries are not severe have reportedly been retained in service, some claim they have not been paid certain allowances or given promotions their peers enjoyed.
However, Col. Ezundu Idimah, Deputy Director, Army Public Relations of the 1 Division in Kaduna, dismissed the claims as lies, saying the soldiers are well catered for.
A soldier, who was paralyzed from the waist down by an insurgent’s bullet in the North-East, said he had not received any disability compensation, but his salaries have been promptly paid.
Now confined to a wheelchair, the soldier said his dream and that of his family had been shattered as his expectations in life may no longer be met.
Though he is recovering, he still suffers from severe pains.
Another soldier, injured three months after his wedding during a training exercise when he was accidentally shot, said he had been in constant pain since the incident and could not function sexually.
After the incident, he was first treated for months in Maiduguri before being transferred to the 44 Nigerian Army Reference Hospital, Kaduna, where he was treated for another four months.
“I feel a burning pain constantly in the injured leg, and when I walk, a nerve pain is triggered as if I were stepping on sharp nails,” he said.
The soldier now worries about the long-term effects of the injury, saying, “I limp on my left leg as a result of the injury, and it will be difficult for me to walk normally again.”
He said two of his complaint letters, written separately to his unit’s commanding officer, were turned down, but another one had been sent to the army headquarters.
Another soldier, whose hand has been deformed from a gunshot wound sustained in a confrontation with Boko Haram, said he too was recuperating but required more medical attention.
He also said his compensation pay-out had still not been paid. Although most of the injured soldiers are receiving treatment free of charge at the 44 Nigerian Army Reference Hospital, Kaduna, some expressed dismay over the level of care they receive.
While commending the recent upgrade done to the facility and some of the services they receive, the soldiers appealed to the Federal Government and military authorities, to look into their plights and improve their treatment so that they would return to their duties.
“We protected the territorial integrity of the country as best as we could while we were in the field in Maiduguri, the Borno State capital, where Boko Haram insurgents attacked us.
“Unfortunately, we are not being supported the way we ought to by the government,” one of them said.
“I was shot in the leg in Maiduguri, and in the process, I fractured my arm.
“Even though I was given care at Maiduguri before I was transported to Kaduna, I am, however, still in pain.
“My hand is healing gradually, but I am still having problems with my leg, where I was shot,” he said.
Another wounded soldier said there is special attention given to wounded soldiers and civilian patients at the hospital.
“You know because our treatment is free, they tend to take better care of the civil patients than us, maybe because they are paying. We are suffering,” he said.
When the issues were brought to the knowledge of Colonel Idimah, he was quick to dismiss them. He stated emphatically that ‘it is a pure lie’.
Ifesinachi Nnabugwu reporting, Obinwannem News