Incapacitated and wounded soldiers from the ongoing Operation Lafia Dole in Maidiguri, Borno State currently receiving treatment at the 44 Nigerian Army Reference Hospital, Kaduna, have cried out saying they are dying slowly. It was observed that some of the hospitalised soldiers have had limbs amputated, some had lost one or both eyes, while others are hearing-impaired.
A number are still awaiting one form of surgery or the other.
The soldiers bared their minds when the National President of Defence and Police Officers Wives Association (DEPOWA), Mrs. Omobolanle Olonisakin, led a team of officers’ wives of the association to distribute some logistics and relief materials as well as pay a sympathy visit to 190 wounded soldiers from the theatre of operations in the North-East.
The soldiers, whose names were not mentioned, lamented the way they are being treated in the hospital having served the country diligently.
One of the soldiers said “Our issue includes that of operation allowance. Since we were wounded in the theatre of operation, we have been missing our operational allowances. If we are paid for the month of January, we will not receive February until March or April.
We have been incapacitated serving the country, and it’s not that we are complaining, but we should be paid what is owed us. Otherwise, how can we support our families?”
Another soldier said since he injured his hand in Maiduguri a year ago, there hasn’t been much improvement in his condition, and he remains in constant pain. “I’m dying slowly. I was taken to Abuja for assessment a while back, but for more than two months now, I have not heard anything.
I have not been told if my hand can be saved or not, all they keep telling me is that they are waiting for a doctor from Germany. If I die before the doctor comes, what would happen?” He concluded with a plea to the necessary authorities to look into their plight.
During the visit, Mrs. Olonisakin said: “We are here to appreciate and thank our gallant soldiers for sacrificing for our freedom. They have put their lives on the line to protect us, and we thank God for them. We want them to focus on getting better so that they can go back home and join their families and loved ones.”
The Corps Commander, Medical, Nigerian Army, Major General Abimbola Amusu said the Nigerian Army has done a lot to support wounded soldiers. “The condition of all the soldiers in the hospital have improved.
Those that are amputees probably had to be amputated to save their lives while some, the injury itself will cause the amputation, we have placed the necessary procedure where some are getting the needed prosthetics, some have been given and as soon as they are given, they are discharged.”
Major General Amusu said: “Within two to three weeks, the soldiers get the prosthetics, get some training and they are discharged. Those that have eye injuries are being managed too, while those who need evacuation abroad, we also do that. The Nigerian Army has evacuated quite a large number of personnel to Germany, Dubai, India and the United Kingdom for advanced treatment.”
Major General Amusu noted that the challenge is not only soldiers that have physical injury, but those that have psychological injury, saying “The Chief of Army staff has approved that we have three rehabilitation centers, one in Kaduna and two others in Lagos and Enugu. The one in Kaduna is already completed and will commence operation this month.”
Asked if the capacity of the hospital is being overstretched, she said: “I would not say so, because there is no-one laying on the floor. The army is already being proactive, part of which is the ongoing renovation of wards in the hospital which is not done in terms of the capacity but to make the wards more comfortable for patients because they plan to start the hospital as a level-four United Nations hospital.”
Major General Amusu noted that very soon completion work will commence at the hospital, saying “Before the end of 2016, anyone coming into the 44 Hospital would actually be stepping into one of the best hospitals in the sub-region.”