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Presidency explains success in anti-Boko Haram war



• Denies alleged N6.5b expenses on insurgency

• Buhari condemns bombings, calls for vigilance

RECENT successes in the war against the Islamist terrorist group, Boko Haram, followed the “deployment of specially trained anti-terrorism combat squad, who were recently trained by our international partners,” the Federal Government has said.

   The other factors that aided the operations included “the acquisition and deployment of more sophisticated, adequate and appropriate military hardware,” and “the recent approval by the African Union and the United Nations of a broad-based international coalition to collaborate with our military,” the Senior Special Assistant to the President on Public Affairs, Dr. Doyin Okupe, explained.

   However, government denied reports that it had spent over N6.5 trillion on the war so far. Addressing newsmen in Abuja yesterday, Okupe dismissed the claims of N6.5 trillion spent on the anti-Boko Haram war by the All Progressives Congress (APC).

   He described it as an example of the party’s “disposition to falsehood and outlandish assertions,” adding: “The claim by Lai Muhammed in his press statement that government had expended $32 billion (N6.5 trillion) on the war against terrorism is untrue and lacks any factual basis whatsoever!”

   According to him, the international bodies’ approval “also gives legal authority to our neighbours (Chad, Niger and Cameroun) to lawfully deploy troops on Nigerian soil while our military can now operate beyond our borders to hunt fleeing terrorists, thus removing their safe haven.

   “It is a combination of these factors that make it realistic to hope that the terrorists’ fighting capabilities will soon be terribly decimated and severely degraded, thus ensuring a safer climate for both the general elections and overall resumption of civic activities in the areas affected by insurgency.”

   Meanwhile, presidential candidate of the APC, Maj.-Gen. Muhammadu Buhari, has condemned the latest bombings in Yobe and Kano states in which scores of innocent people were killed and many more injured.

   In a statement, the Directorate of Media and Publicity of the APC Presidential Campaign Organisation (APCPCO), Garba Shehu, Buhari “deeply regrets the frequency with which terrorists are destroying the lives of innocent people. A situation where terrorists get bolder with every passing day calls for serious reflection and concern.”

   However, he commended the efforts and sacrifices of the nation’s counter-terrorism forces, adding that there is need for greater vigilance and new strategies. While recognising the complexity of terrorism and its peculiar challenges, he called for more and tougher strategies.

   He further called on the Federal Government to take proactive steps to stem the frequency with which the terrorists or suicide bombers penetrate security cordon and checkpoints with ease and strike their targets with extreme cruelty.

   According to him, the terrorists exploit the indifference of the citizens to ultimately harm them, as security is a collective responsibility.

   Nevertheless, Okupe condemned the APC for playing down efforts at tackling the insurgency by “sympathising with Boko Haram. He noted: “Regrettably, however, the All Progressives Congress, which has the unfortunate antecedent of siding with the terrorists and criticizing measures adopted by government to tackle insurgency as well as demeaning the Nigerian military, does not seem to be happy with these recent successes.

   “It will be recalled that on June 2, 2013, the APC presidential candidate, Maj.-Gen. Muhammadu Buhari, who was then a leader of the Congress for Progressive Change (CPC), criticized the declaration of state of emergency in Adamawa, Borno and Yobe states and the subsequent military offensive against the Boko Haram sect.

   “Buhari, who featured on the ‘Guest of the Week,’ a Hausa programme of the Kaduna-based Liberty Radio, said the Federal Government’s action was a gross injustice against the north.

   “According to him, unlike the special treatment the Federal Government gave to the Niger Delta militants, Boko Haram members were being killed and their houses demolished. 

   Similarly, the APC spokesperson, Lai Muhammed, reiterated this position on June 10, 2013, by speaking glowingly about the Boko Haram sect in a manner that suggests some hidden sympathy for the murderous sect. He also went as far as describing the proscription of Boko Haram and Ansaru terrorist groups by the Federal Government as a violation of the provisions of the 1999 Constitution.”

   He added: “We had expected that the APC would drop this toga by unequivocally supporting government and our troops to defeat terror, especially now that it is hoping that Nigerians would entrust it with the leadership of our dear nation. 

   “Unfortunately, this appears not to be so. Rather, the opposition party continues to engage in bare-faced lies, double-speak and twisting of facts to stand logic on its head in these very crucial times.”

 More so, “we find it very embarrassing that the All Progressive Congress always desperately seeks to feed on blood like leaches and profit from national tragedies and misfortunes.

   “This habit of the Nigerian main opposition political party runs contrary to what obtains in other parts of the world where politicians rise above partisanship and quest for power in matters of this nature.”

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