The new Chief of Defence Staff, CDS, Air Marshal Alex Badeh, yesterday assured that the military would end the Boko Haram insurgency in the North- East area of Nigeria before April.
Badeh gave the assurance during handing over ceremonies at the service headquarters in Abuja. He expressed absolute confidence in his colleagues to achieve this mission in three months.
Badeh promised to crush the insurgency and return the geopolitical zone to its good old days ahead of the 2015 general elections.
“The security situation in the North-East must be brought to a stop before April 2014,” Badeh said. He told the perpetrators of terrorism and their allies that there
would not be any hiding place for them anywhere in the country warning that “we will come after you.”
Badeh, who was the immediate past Chief of the Air Staff, CAS, was last Thursday appointed by President Goodluck Jonathan along with other service chiefs to steer the affairs of the country’s military.
The immediate past CDS, Admiral Ola Ibrahim (rtd), during his valedictory speech had warned the new service chiefs not to be involved in anything that could undermine democracy.
Ibrahim reminded them that the challenges before them were that of the Boko Haram insurgency and ensuring that the country’s nascent democracy did not suffer a setback.
“Remember the duties of the Armed Forces to our great country; remember the duties of the Armed Forces to Mr. President. Discharge these duties with honour, integrity and irreproachable goodwill.
Don’t carry baggage on that seat. You exist to deepen democracy, not to undermine it,” he said.
In his own valedictory speech, ex-Chief of Army Staff, Lieutenant General Azubuike Ihejirika, warned the media and politicians against dragging the military into issues that could further heat up the polity.
He warned that the Army under him had been transformed, becoming purely professional and was not interested in politics or things that could heat up the polity.
He said that as contrary to reports that 31 Generals were above the new COAS, Major General Kenneth Minimah and would be retired, Ihejirika said that there were only five of such Generals, some of whom had since turned in papers for voluntary retirement to make it easy for the new COAS to work.
In his speech, the new Chief of Naval Staff, Rear Admiral Usman Jibrin, assured that his tenure would ensure that oil theft comes to an end.
Meanwhile, 18 persons were feared dead after suspected Boko Haram militants attacked a community along the Alau Dam -Alau Ngawo Fate in Jere Local Government Area of Borno on Sunday night. Several houses were also destroyed in the attack.
Mallam Ibrahim Modu, a village head in the area, told newsmen on telephone that the attackers invaded the community at about 10p.m. on Sunday before carrying out their evil act.
“They invaded the village at about 10p.m. and set many houses and shops ablaze within a short time.
“They actually used some explosives and local petrol bombs to set the houses on fire,” Modu said. He said the invaders divided themselves into groups with some attacking residents while others set fire on the houses.
“We lost 18 people at the end of the attack. We also lost about 100 houses, shops and grain stores to the attack,” Modu added.
Also speaking with newsmen in Maiduguri, Mustapha Galtimari, a former councillor in Jere local government confirmed that 18 of their kinsmen were killed by the insurgents during the attack.
According to the locals, they made several calls to security operatives prior to the attack without any help coming their way.
He said: “We don’t know the problem of our security operatives but even when you inform them about happenings or something about to happen, they no longer pay attention and they would not send soldiers until after the attack.
We have called on our people who called on the authorities but nobody came to our rescue and these boys came and killed many people.”
One of the community leaders in Maiduguri, Malam Saina Buba said the new Chief of Defence Staff would have to overhaul the security in Borno State, if he is to achieve the desired goal of protecting lives and property.
Saina said, in his interactions with soldiers in Maiduguri, he realised that most of the soldiers have low moral owing to so many challenges in the operations in the state.
He said the recent attack on Gafate was unfortunate as the people had prior information and informed security operatives, yet the attackers came and people were killed.
“For whatever reason that made the security to delay or not to have taken security measures to avert the occurrence is not good at all,” he added
Spokesman of the 7 Division Nigerian Army, Col Muhammadu Dole confirmed the incident in a telephone interview with journalists in Maiduguri, but said that the army was yet to receive details on the number of casualties.
“It is true the insurgents were sighted in that general area by the locals, but we do not have details of what they did yet. Our troops have gone there to confirm what happened,” he said.