Protesting Nigerian soldiers fire into the air


Nigerian troops staging a protest at the airport in Maiduguri shot into the air for around four hours, soldiers and local people said.

There were no reports of injuries.

The soldiers were protesting their redeployment to a restive part of the north-east to fight militants from the jihadist Boko Haram group, which for nine years waged a bloody insurgency aimed at creating an Islamic state in the region.

Discontent in some parts of the military is one challenge related to the insurgency faced by President Muhammadu Buhari months ahead of a February election he plans to contest in which security looks set to be a campaign issue.

The soldiers – who witnesses said were shooting for around four hours – said they were protesting against their redeployment from their base in Maiduguri, state capital of Borno, to Marte, a restive district in the state.
“We are angry and that is why we are shooting. Why are they taking us to another place after spending about four years here?” said a soldier, adding they were previously told they would only fight insurgents for a maximum of three years.

A military spokesman could not immediately be reached for comment.

Henrietta Yakubu, a spokeswoman for the Federal Airport Authority of Nigeria (FAAN), was told the protest ended. “The situation has normalised,” she said, adding it had not forced the airport to shut down.

The unrest comes amid problems in military ranks as the fight against Boko Haram continues, despite government having said since December 2015 they were technically defeated.

In July a fourth commander in 14 months was named to lead the fight against the militants after a number of defeats. Last week at least 15 soldiers and an official from Nigeria’s disaster agency were killed by suspected militants.