By Akanimo Sampson
The Nigerian Army has ordered troops fighting the undying Boko Haram insurgency in the bleeding North-East axis of the country to keep an eagle eye on traitors ruining their efforts to end the menace which has for claimed the lives of 38,000 citizens, leaving around 10 million persons internally displaced.
TheTheatre Commander of Operation Lafiya Dole, Major General Olusegun Adeniyi, gave this order on Sunday as four persons were allegedly killed and 12 others missing when suspected Boko Haram insurgents attacked Gajiram, the headquarters of Nganzai Local Government Area of Borno State at the weekend.
The state Governor, Babagana Zulum, is however, blaming the soldiers’ decision to establish ‘’super camps’’ for the Wednesday’s attack of Gubio and Magumeri Local Government Areas by Boko Haram insurgents.
He was speaking in Abuja, Nigeria’s capital, after a closed door meeting with President Muhammadu Buhari at the Presidential Villa.
While Governor Zulum was responding to a question on why it was easy for the militants to operate without resistance, he said ‘’well, the most important thing is that there is ongoing military strategy, according to the military authorities, what they called Establishment of super camps. That entails that all other smaller units in various villages and towns shall be collapsed to form part of the super camps in some critical major local government areas.
‘’In our thinking, as laymen not as military personnel, we thought this decision is not wise. We must ensure there is military presence in all the locations. We are very much aware of their numerical strength but nonetheless, their absence can create serious vacuum and that has informed the recent attacks. However, I heard that the military is now trying to re-establish the military formations in those areas and that they should not form part of the super camps.’’
Commending the efforts of the civilian JTF, the governor said, ‘’honestly speaking, the civilian JTF are working but the most important thing is that they don’t have the heavy weapons that they can use to conveniently face. So the absence of the Nigerian military in a particular place will create a vacuum in such a way that the civilian JTF and hunters cannot perform effectively.
‘’I have told Mr. President and he has listened to our complaints, he has done a lot for the people of Borno and it is our sincere hope that this time around, he will take necessary steps to forestall future occurrence. But most importantly, the presence of the Nigerian military in almost all the locations, especially in local government headquarters, need not be overemphasized.’’
While stressing that it was high time the youths were gainfully engaged to forestall their becoming a veritable tool in the hands of the terrorist sect, he added, ‘’first of all I wish to call on the people of Borno to be patient while we try to strengthen the civilian JTF as well as supplement the efforts of the military as well as the Nigeria Police.
‘’By and large, we must also address the root causes of the Boko Haram insurgency which is not limited to endemic poverty, pervasive illiteracy, financial and economic hardship, unemployment, environmental degradation, drug abuse among others. We must ensure our youths are employed. We shall support the Nigerian police and the Nigerian military, most importantly the gallant civilian JTF and the hunters to ensure that the remnants of Boko Haram are eliminated.’’
In the mean time, sources say the attackers also burnt some vehicles belonging to the local government authority and carted away foodstuffs, and that nine women who had been abducted during the siege escaped and returned on Sunday, while 12 others were still missing.
A source told Daily Trust that some Boko Haram fighters allegedly came at about 8:30pm and started shooting sporadically. ‘’Four people were killed including an old woman. Initially, they forcefully took away 21 women but nine escaped’’, the source told the newspaper.
Continuing, the Daily Trust source said, ‘’we have since buried the victims according to the Islamic rites; we still hope those in captivity will soon return’’, pointing out that the incident had been reported to the military ‘’and they are still searching for the missing women.’’
While addressing troops in Gubio and Magumeri, the two towns in northern Borno that came under attack last week, Gen. Adeniyi told them to ‘’hold your grounds’’ as they could be moved from one base to another, adding, ‘’it is an insult for you to be here and someone says there are no soldiers. What we have discussed, implement it. If you have any issues, let your commander know and look out for traitors, set up a checkpoint and be checking. If we don’t stop Boko Haram logistics, this war will never finish.
‘’Please, let us finish this war and go home. If you have been unserious, get serious; if you are serious, get more serious. You are in war today, you will be at peace in another unit tomorrow. Above all, we must make up our minds that we are ending this war’’, and further appealed to the troops to respect all their partners, including the police and the civilian JTF to enable them to get desired results in the counter-insurgency operation.
According to him, ‘’Civilian JTF is our partner; if you are working with them, respect them and treat them well, they are our partners. You don’t attack your partners, be diplomatic with them. Also, police are your friends here, respect them, they are working with us, we all have a common enemy which is Boko Haram. I urge you to make up your mind to end this war. Like I said, your commanders have plans, help them to execute them. Please, I am counting on you; so, I want you to know that I appreciate you very deeply and I am trusting God no evil will happen to you.’’
He then warned that any commander who failed to provide food and water to his soldiers will be punished accordingly, noting, ‘’Nigeria is before Boko Haram, it will end and Nigeria will continue. That I am sure of. The entire country is behind you, you are not the rebel.’’
On the occasion, a Gubio community member, Modu Alhaji Fanami, told theatre commander that they were trying their best by giving accurate information to the military: ‘’We are ready to do more to support soldiers because we still want to remain in Gubio, we have nowhere to go. All we want is to have soldiers around us; I can assure you that everyone of us is willing to support the troops.’’