More than 1,000 soldiers killed on the battlefront in the fight against insurgency were secretly buried in Maiduguri, Borno State capital, a report by The Wall Street Journal has said.
The report published on Wednesday said: “The bodies are laid by flashlight into trenches dug by infantrymen or local villagers paid a few dollars per shift.”
It quoted military sources adding that the number of soldiers buried in that manner could be higher than the figure.
“Several of my comrades were buried in unmarked graves at night,” a soldier from the Maimalari barracks, where more than 1,000 soldiers are based, was quoted saying.
It said on the eve of President Muhammadu Buhari’s visit to Borno in November, army commanders secretly moved corpses of soldiers from a morgue to unmarked graves.
“When President Buhari visited the Maiduguri base in November, commanders rushed to bury bodies that had collected at the morgue from the recent attack on the base in Metele and several others, according to several soldiers at the base,” the report said.
It also said as the commanders prepared the base for the president’s arrival, they drafted in additional medical staff to treat the dozens of wounded soldiers in the base’s hospital wards.
The report added that as soldiers tried to complain about their conditions when Buhari addressed them, the president pledged to do everything within his powers to continue empowering them.
“As the secret cemetery at the Maimalari barracks grows, the military has expanded the site into neighboring fields,” the Wall Street Journal report said.
It also alleged that the Federal Government had since last year stopped reporting the deaths of soldiers in its fight with Boko Haram insurgents and a splinter group called the Islamic State West Africa Province (ISWAP).
The Nigerian Army have not issued any statement on the allegations