An unstopable war and the immovable four
When the war against the Boko Haram terrorists started in 2009, it was treated like another uprising by misguided people clinging on the apron of religion. How can anyone claim to be fighting for God, the creator of the heavens and the earth? Since then, the Boko Haram insurgency has undergone horrible mutations and it has placed our beloved country on the world map of terror. There theatre of operation is far bigger than those commanded by Colonel Chukwuemeka Odumegwu-Ojukwu at the beginning of the Biafran rebellion. The terrorists have also done everything to undermine the power and legitimacy of the Nigerian state and they are active in Chad, Niger, and Cameroon. Even now, after so many years of bloodletting, there is no end in sight.
Nigeria is paying dearly for the insurgency. Just as it was during the Civil War, all national efforts are geared towards winning this war. The Federal budget is not only skewed in favour of the war efforts, we now have three million internally displaced persons than any other country in Africa. The IDP camps have formed an archipelago of distress in many parts of Northern Nigeria. Some of our citizens have been in the IDP camps for almost a decade.
Yet the Nigerian military is one of the most formidable in Africa and the world. Our military has had the experience of war both at home and on the international fronts. Our soldiers fought and died to keep the peace under the United Nations flag in many countries including the Congo DRC, Sudan, Lebanon, and the Balkans. At least two distinguished Nigerian soldiers, Major-General J.T.U Aguiyi-Ironsi and General Martin Luther Agwai commanded the multi-national UN forces. Their records were outstanding. Now it is our turn to keep our land safe from the ragtag army of the Boko Haram barbarians who are giving our troops hell.
Yet the Nigerian military had confronted vicious foes in the past especially in the West African sub-region where they led the troops of the Ecowas Monitoring Group, ECOMOG, to impose peace on Sierra-Leone and Liberia. But the enemy they are facing today is decidedly different. Though they claim to fight for God, they are the most godless agents of the devil to ever descend on the African soil. Their bestiality knows no bound. How can you claim to fight for God when you have no respect for God’s creatures and God’s laws?
In truth, the Nigerian military is facing a different kind of foes different from any past enemy they have ever confronted on the battle field. The insurgency is fed from many tributaries. One, the lawless land of Libya where the old army of the late dictator, Colonel Muamar Gadhafi, disintegrated only to feed terror in Nigeria and other West African countries. To worsen the matter are the poorly governed countries of Chad, Niger, and Cameroon from where the insurgence is getting nourishment in the Lake Chad region.
Despite unimaginable suffering, the insurgency continues to find a fertile oasis in the Nigerian North-East especially in Adamawa. Borno and Yobe States. I have the feeling that the mosques are not sufficiently mobilized in this fight, if not why should the Boko-Haram terrorists continue to find willing and unwilling recruits in these three states? Why should the citizens be ready to protect those suspected of Boko-Haram sentiments? If the citizens are not ready to end the war against these vermin, then our country is in serious trouble for a long time to come.
More so now that there are troubling signals from the corridors of power. One signal that I cannot understand is the Federal Government stands to rehabilitate captured Boko-Haram terrorists. Rehabilitate? What is the motivation for this? Are these terrorists to be treated like normal Prisoners-of-War who has been fighting as noble soldiers with the wrong army? The plain truth is that these terrorists are guilty of multiple crimes. They are waging an armed war against the Nigerian state. They are inflicting terror on a large section of our country. They are bestial and have no respect for human dignity. Worse, they have no other objective than to sow terror and spread the poison of poverty in our country.
It is difficult to watch the Boko Haram video clips where they beheaded their captives. They used a crude machete to decapitate their captured enemies. They have shown no mercy to anyone; women, children and the aged. They deserve no mercy. We should treat them as the laws of the Republic stipulates. Those who are advocating rehabilitation and re-education are undermining the morale of the fighting forces on the battle field. Those of our soldiers that are captured by these beasts are beheaded with a crude machete or tied down like ileya rams and have their throat cut. These beasts deserve no mercy.
No one would expect the military to discuss its strategy on the pages of newspapers. However, I believe that it is high time that the military identifies where these uncommon criminals are concentrated, encircle them and defeat them once and for all. During the Second Republic, Major-General Muhammadu Buhari was the General Officer Commanding of the 4th Division of the Nigerian Army based in Jos. Some rag-tag group invaded Nigeria from Chad. Buhari commanded his troops and drove the enemy out of Nigeria and deep into Chad. We expect a similar performance now. This war cannot just go on forever. That is not acceptable.
Another thing I find difficult to accept is the continuous stay in the office of the Service Chiefs. The team, led by General Gabriel Olonisakin, the Chief of Defence Staff, Lt. General T. Y. Burutai, the Chief of Army Staff, Air-Marshall Sadique Abubakar, the Chief of Air Staff and Vice-Admiral Ibok Ekwe-Ibas, the Chief of Naval, have been in charge of our war efforts since 2015. I have no doubt if they are changed now, it would have a positive effect on the morale of our fighting troops. During the Nigerian Civil War, General Yakubu Gowon, the Nigerian military ruler, took the decision to change the three GOCs directing the Nigerian war effort. That was how Colonel Olusegun Obasanjo replaced his old classmate, Colonel Benjamin Adekunle as the GOC of the Third Marine Commando Division. Less than one year after Obasanjo got to the front, the Biafran High Command was led to Doddan Barracks to present the Instrument of Surrender to General Gowon.
There is no doubt that Olonisakin and his team have achieved tremendous success in the fight against terror and the conflict has now been confined largely to certain local governments of Bornu, Yobe and Adamawa States. But the IDP camps remain. If the refugees cannot go home, it means the war is still far from over. It beats the imagination that in this post-modern era when the whole world is monitored through satellite, it is still possible for the Boko Haram vermin to embark on the bold attack as the one staged after the President’s visit to Maiduguri. It shows the level of confidence and bestiality.
Many of our children are still with these animals: Lear Sharibu, the Chibok girls, the thousands of other captured women who are now being used as sex slaves by these beasts or sold into sex-slavery in Libya and other territories where their associates are domiciled. The idea that these terrorists once captured should be de-briefed and rehabilitated is so saddening. So what kind of rehabilitation and debriefing would be given to the thousands of Nigerians in the IDP camps? What of the soldiers who died or are maimed? If we spend tax-payers money to rehabilitate Boko Haram terrorists, what are we going to do to the wounded veterans?
General Olonisakin and his colleagues have done their best. For them, the Boko Haram war has become almost too familiar, almost routine. It is time they meet their commander-in-chief and persuade him to let them do the one thing that would serve the interest of Nigeria now. Go.
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