Nigerian soldiers deployed to fight Boko Haram terrorists in the North-East are using outdated weapons and equipment, including Shilka artillery guns procured during the administration of late Alhaji Shehu Shagari, president of Nigeria between 1979 and 1983.
The PUNCH quoting unidentified Nigeria military officers said the archaic and defective weapons place our soldiers at great disadvantage when they confront the terrorists, during operations.
The report said the poor weapons are responsible for the heavy casualties the country had suffered in the anti-insurgency war in recent times, noting that there ere times the Shagari-era weapons failed during operations.
The top military officers explained that Shilka, an artillery gun mounted on fighting vehicles, being used by the Nigerian troops at the battlefront are outdated but that they were refurbished and deployed
One of the officers said, “The Shilka guns were acquired under Shagari’s government. We have many of them but they are outdated, so they were refurbished, even though a lot of their components are missing. However, they were deployed in the North-East for the anti-insurgency war like that, hence they fail during battles.
“Recently, Boko Haram even stole one from the troops. So, while we are battling with the refurbished Shilka, ISWAP fighters deploy the latest technology to attack us, and you know the President said a week ago at an ECOWAS meeting that how the terrorists deploy more sophisticated weapons is a matter of concern.”
Another officer, who is currently engaged in operations in one of the toughest operational zones in the North-East, said apart from Shilka, they used to have in their inventory Tank 72, also known as T-72, which was made in Russia and manufactured in 1971 but sold out in 1972. T-72 are Soviet-era tanks.
He added, “They were procured by former President Goodluck Jonathan’s administration towards the 2015 elections and they were used to capture lost territories, but unfortunately, the tanks came without spare parts.
“From time to time, we cannibalized one to fix another until they broke down and they were withdrawn from operations because there were no spare parts. What we have now is called Vickers MBT (Vickers Main Battle Tanks).
“They are even older than the T-72. So, as I’m talking to you, Shilka is what we have and the outdated guns we were supplied with and that is why the insurgents seem to be having the upper hand. The equipment is really outdated.”
In a similar revelation, another top military officer at the battlefront told the newspaper that the attacks on soldiers had increased in recent times because the insurgents were now using the weapons and equipment they once stole from the military.
He noted that superior weapons and equipment, like Armoured Personnel Carrier and Mine-Resistant Ambush, Protected vehicles, popularly known as MRAP, which is both bullet- and bomb-proof, were urgently needed by
The sources explained further that beyond using drones, the insurgents were now using night vision goggles, thermal detectors and other modern equipment to attack the Nigerian troops.
The Nigerian Army had in November 2018 pointed out that Boko Haram’s attacks on troops had revealed that the insurgents were using drones and foreign fighters.