Widows of some soldiers killed during fights with insurgents in Borno State have said about two months after they told wives of service chiefs and that of the Inspector-General of Police (IGP) during their visit to the state about the shoddy treatment they are receiving from authorities after the deaths of their husbands, nothing has changed.
Wife of the Chief of Defence Staff (CDS), Mrs. Omobolanle Olonishakin, who led the team told the widows that she will never let her husband rest until the issues raised by the widows are fully addressed. But the Coordinator of a Non-Governmental Organization (NGO), New Hope for Widows, Mrs. Fatime Al-Hussein said several weeks after the visit by the wives of the service chiefs, the conditions of the widows remain the same. “I spoke to a good number of the widows, and they say nothing has changed since then.”
Earlier, during their visit to the state, the wives of the service chiefs visited injured soldiers in hospitals, donated items, and commiserated with them and prayed for their speedy recovery before proceeding to the Social Center of the 7 Division of the Nigerian Army where they met the widows. Addressing them after donating wrappers, food items and other essential commodities, wife of the CDS said they were in the state to sympathize with them over what they are going through after their husbands died. She then urged the widows, there in hundreds, to speak freely of the problems they are going through.
One of the widows, Mrs. Fatima Abdullahi, said she is not aware if her husband was killed or not, saying, “I am yet to see his corpse. He was declared missing since 2014 and we have not heard anything about him since then. But two months after he was declared missing, the military authority stopped his salary and drove us away from the barracks.”
Mrs. Abdullahi said nothing has been paid to the family as benefits. “I’ve been a full-time housewife. I do not have a means of taking care of the children he left behind. We find it very difficult to even feed,” she said.
One of the widows, simply called Madam Serah, told the wife of the CDS that after the death of her husband, the military kept paying her his salary up to a year before it was stopped. “My problem is I have not seen the corpse of my husband. I am not begging for financial aid from the military. I am a university graduate. Give me a job to take care of our children. That is my prayer to the military authorities,” she said.
Mrs. Mary Johnson said her husband was killed in Monguno. “When I went to the military headquarters for his benefit, they told me that I must go to Monguno in Borno State and obtain some papers from the Commander. On getting to Maiduguri I was warned that I cannot go to Monguno except with military escort. I am starving, along with my children.”
Apparently not comfortable with the revelations by the widows, army officers at the event interceded, stopped the proceedings and led the wives of the service chiefs out of the hall before dispersing the crowd.