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Kudos, doubts over military onslaught on terrorists

By Saxone Akhaine (Kaduna) and Isa Abdulsalami Ahovi (Jos)
03 September 2022   |   4:02 am
Against the backdrop of sustained bombardment of terrorist hideouts in the North West geo-political zone, particularly Kaduna State, Arewa groups and residents of the state have applauded...

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• Formation Of Parallel Security Outfit By Fulani Recipe For Civil War, SOKAPU Warns

Against the backdrop of sustained bombardment of terrorist hideouts in the North West geo-political zone, particularly Kaduna State, Arewa groups and residents of the state have applauded the current efforts toward bringing an end to the reign of terror in the area.

The groups and residents confirmed to The Guardian that indeed, troops under the command of the General Officer Commanding (GOC) 1 Mechanised Division, Major General Taoreed Lagbaja, with the active support of the Air Force, have inflicted heavy casualties on the terrorists in various camps located in Birnin Gwari communities and its environs.

They noted that the deployment of military artillery against the terrorists in their hideouts has brought relative calm to the state, adding that incidences of kidnapping have reduced while residents now move about to conduct their businesses with less fear.

However, others expressed reservations about the reported successes of the security agencies lately, saying such gains had turned out to be temporary in the past.

A resident of Kabala Costain, a suburb in Kaduna, Malam Muri Lawal, told The Guardian that peace has returned to his area.

“We thank God that the military has been able to curb the activities of the bandits and kidnappers and peace has returned to our environment.

“We are praying the military should continue this good work they have started and bring a permanent end to all these problems in our state and country,” said Lawal, who is a car electrician.

Former Secretary General of Arewa Consultative Forum (ACF), Elder Anthony Sani, noted that he welcomed “the new drive by the military,” stating that it was probably “in response to the presidential order given recently that the military should take the fight to the bases in the forests and stop the madness, which in turn is in response to public outcry against the level of insecurity in the country.”

He added: “You recall that Governor El-Rufai went as far as alleging that the bandits have formed parallel governments across the country while Governor Masari advocated that citizens be allowed unfettered access to arms for self-defence.

“What is more? INEC warned that insecurity could pose danger to the conduct of elections next year. Such outcries must have goaded Mr President to give the matching orders to the military to secure the nation by taking the fight to the bases of the bandits in the forests.

“With enough well-trained and equipped military personnel, the military should be able to sustain the tempo and eviscerate the strongholds of the bandits.”

Sani stated that he had always maintained that Nigeria’s situation was not beyond redemption, given purposeful leadership and the will of the military.

Stressing the need for the military to sustain the current onslaught on the terrorists, Sani observed that high fighting spirit and high morale were a function of enough well-trained security personnel who were adequately motivated to secure the nation.

“These things are not a day’s job. It takes time to train and equip adequately. It is not long after the military started to take delivery of the equipment ordered a few years ago. What is more? The military has been reluctant to bomb the bases of the bandits in the forest because the bandits use human shields lest there be high collateral damage.

“I guess the military must have taken time to plan the current attacks, lest there be high collateral damage that can attract international condemnation. The delay may not be out of insensitivity. Now that the military is taking the fight to the bases of the bandits in the forests, they should ensure the availability of enough well-trained and equipped military personnel who are well motivated to secure the nation,” he stressed.

Also speaking, the Secretary General of the northern wing of the Christian Association of Nigeria (CAN), Elder Sunday Oibe, pointed out that the current military campaign against the terrorists was long overdue, adding that the reign of banditry, kidnapping and killings had been so enormous.

He said: “The terrorists have inflicted collateral damage on the psyche of Nigerians for long as if we no longer have a government in the country anymore. Imagine the level of killings, kidnapping and other acts of terrorism that Nigerians have suffered at the hands of bandits.

“I welcome this new drive of combat effectiveness of our military against terrorists by taking the fight to their hideouts and flushing them all out.”

Oibe said the Nigerian military had performed excellently in international peace missions, noting that he couldn’t just understand why they could no longer defend the nation and wipe out terrorism.

He lamented the negative impact that the reign of terror has inflicted on the Nigerian economy, noting that the development has resulted in a serious brain drain.

Also, the leader of the Arewa Defender League (ADL), Alhaji Murtala Abubakar, praised the military for combatting the bandits frontally.

“The current efforts by the military to take the fight to the camp of the bandits is a welcome development and the result is encouraging. Our hope is that the tempo will be sustained until all the ungoverned spaces across the North West and other parts of the country under criminals are reclaimed and brought back to the authorities,” he said.

Abubakar added that he was very positive that if the armed forces really want to end the insurgency, it would be over in a matter of days.

“However, my fear is that lack of coordination between and among the armed forces, remains a major impediment to this war and remain a major disincentive.

“So, I want to see inter-agency collaborations with active collaborations, with synergies, with local to help, with intelligence given priority if we must see an immediate end to the war against terrorism.

“In the past, we had challenges of lack of modern weaponry, lack of political will, the allegation of corruption and inter-agency rivalries. The government needs not to be advised on what to do because all advice needed to help them end the insurgency is very much available to them.”

On his part, the President of the Arewa Youth For Development and Progress (AYDP), Danjuma Sarki, said Nigerians had received reports on successes recorded against bandits in the past, which turned out to be temporary.

He said: “If you look at the pictures of the terrorists that are circulating in the media, it leaves much to be desired. We are aware that the terrorists in their different hideouts are in hundreds. The motorcycles and guns that are in their possession are also in the hundreds. Therefore, for them to be showing us images of a few killed terrorists, and a few motorcycles and claiming you are winning the war is actually hard to believe.

“We expect to see many casualties on the side of the terrorists, arrest of so many of them and the cache of their weapons if they want us to believe them. If what they are saying is anything to go by, we should have been hearing testimonies of improved security on the Birnin Gwari axis and other areas with similar problems. People should be seen to be moving freely in and out of those areas, without any fear.”

He continued: “I sincerely wish they can sustain the fight against terrorism and win the war. But with what we are witnessing, it appears they are on a propaganda drive rather than decimating the terrorists and winning the war.

“I doubt if the spirit and zeal by the military have increased. What is happening is more propaganda.

“We should not get carried away by what they are pushing into the media. Let’s keep watch and see how safe the people living in the areas bedevilled by the challenges of insecurity are. I want you to know that the insecurity problem in Nigeria is now a big enterprise.

“So many people in government and in the security agencies are making so much money out of it. Therefore, they wouldn’t demonstrate any superiority against the terrorists. It is obvious that some of the people in government don’t want it to end.

“My advice to the government is to be more serious in tackling terrorism by making the security agencies accountable, pragmatic and professional in their approach. Intelligence gathering, deployment of technology and proactiveness are key if they are serious about defeating terrorism.”

Nevertheless, the Nigerian Army, yesterday, graduated participants of Exercise Shining Star II, where it explained that the training would enable its personnel to respond swiftly and professionally to security threats in the discharge of their constitutional duties.

Speaking at the ceremony, which was held at Headquarters 3 Division Small Arms Range in Miango, Bassa local council of Plateau State, the General Officer Commanding (GOC) 3 Division Nigerian Army (NA) and Commander Operation Safe Haven (OPSH), Major General Ibrahim Ali, warned troops against involvement in criminal activities, noting that such would further endanger the country.

Ali revealed that the scourge of insecurity in the country and the world at large was responsible for consistent training and retraining of Nigerian Army personnel to enable them to secure the lives and property of law-abiding citizens.

He posited that the Post-Basic Training was organised with the overall aim of achieving the effective performance of troops, adding that the life of a soldier is hinged on training and retraining.

Ali urged the 87 graduating personnel to make good use of the military skills learned for the betterment of the Armed Forces of Nigeria and service to the nation.

In his welcome remarks, the Division Training Officer (DTO), 3 Division, Brigadier General Suleiman Adamu, said Exercise Shining Star II, which is a Post-Basic Training Cadre for selected young soldiers, has further equipped personnel to face current security challenges confronting the country.

Represented by the Deputy Chief of Staff Administration, Lieutenant Colonel SI Shaibu, the Division Training Officer said the training was aimed at improving troops’ combat skills in weapon handling and proficiency, field training, communication, map reading, ethics, use of GPS, offline maps and regimentation in line with the standard practice of the Nigerian Army.

He thanked the GOC for his visionary leadership and adequate logistics support to the school.

Highlights of the event were the shooting competition, presentation of certificates to the graduates and group photograph.

Meanwhile, to avert another civil war in the country, the Southern Kaduna Peoples Union (SOKAPU), has urged the Federal Government to immediately contain the formation of an armed group, Fulani Vigilance Group, as a parallel security outfit in Benue State, saying the move is a recipe for civil war in Nigeria.

In a statement issued by its spokesman, Luka Binniyat, in Kaduna last Thursday, SOKAPU said, “any attempt to allow the Fulani form, arm, kit and operate an armed wing would be tantamount to giving approval to other ethnic groups to act same way.

The Southern Kaduna socio-cultural group remarked: “SOKAPU is saying that a civil war may spark off if Fulani and other ethnic groups obtain arms for the exclusive reason of protecting themselves as groups under various independent commands.”

Binniyat said: “President Muhammadu Buhari must not take this lightly, even though he is fond of glossing over serious matters of security concerns.

“In fact, the Fulani have been accused of horrific crimes in many communities in Nigeria, given the truth that not all Fulani are outlaws. It is the pervasive bloody crimes that criminal elements of Fulani have been accused of that spurred some state governments to create their own vigilance outfits.

“No state government must allow any tribal group to form its own vigilance group. It is a direct line to insurgency and separatism. At this point, SOKAPU wishes to hail the Governor of Zamfara State, Bello Matawalle, for forming a volunteer vigilance service which he will train and arm under the supervision of the Nigeria Police Force.”

He explained, “SOKAPU believes that all residents of Zamfara State, especially herders and farmers in rural communities of the state, will soon enjoy robust security and pursue their livelihood without worry. This is what is expected of a responsive and responsible leader.”

He added: “Unfortunately, Governor Nasir el-Rufai continues to be only vocal against the armed herdsmen and bandits ravaging his state and has refused to do the needful like his counterparts. We encourage other governors of the Middle Belt and the North to copy Governors Ortom and Matawalle in their drive to secure their states.”