THE Supervising Minister of Defence, Mr Labaran Maku, has said that the ongoing armed confrontation between security forces and Boko Haram insurgents, was not a civil war.
Maku, who is also the Minister of Information, said this in Abuja on Tuesday while fielding questions from journalists at a news conference to herald the Armed Forces Remembrance Day, 2014.
The minister was reacting to the opinion of the International Criminal Court (ICC) that the ongoing armed confrontation between Nigeria and the Boko Haram was a civil war.
“Nigeria is fighting a terror group,” Maku stressed.
It is recalled that the ICC at The Hague, Netherlands, on Sunday said the conflict between the Boko Haram insurgents and Nigerian security forces was no less than a declaration of civil war.
In its latest report released at the weekend on the conflict in Nigeria, ICC said after a careful review of the situation, the violence in Nigeria qualified as an armed conflict of non- international character.
He explained that when the country experienced civil war between 1967 and 1970, there was a region that wanted to be independent of it.
“But in this, it is a war of terrorists against all Nigerians, particularly against those that live in their theatres of operation.
“These terrorists have attacked Muslims, Christians and foreigners who pass through Nigeria; it is not a civil war in my opinion.
“What we are facing is a network of terrorists who have chosen to attack a part of our country and the whole nation is behind the armed forces to deal with these insurgents.’’
On the recent attack in Maiduguri, Maku said: “I can say with pride that the incident was not only repelled but those who participated in the operation faced the of our armed forces.
“I must say confidently that our armed forces are doing everything possible not only to ensure that we deal decisively with this incidence but to secure the north-east of Nigeria.’’
He said the fight was also to secure Nigeria’s boundaries, adding that occasionally, “things like this will happen, as the country was dealing with an enemy that does not wear uniform.
“I can tell you that as we continue in this operation and state of emergency, we are succeeding and for a very long time the army struck at the bases of these elements and chased them completely from Maiduguri.DHQ despatches military team to Maiduguri
The Defence headquarters has despatched a team of senior military officers to Maiduguri to assess the extent of damage in the early monday morning attack on the Airforce base which claimed a large number of lives and damaged three military helicopters.
The supervising Minister of Defence, Labaran Maku disclosed this yesterday while briefing newsmen on the activities lined up for 2014 Armed forces remembrance day celebration.
Maku announced that the military is intensifying recruitment and training in order to confront the insurgency to its logical conclusion.
According to Maku, insurgencies of this type are not easy to combat, while the military is doing everything possible.
The minister assured all Nigerians that the defence headquarters is on top of the situation, as the military is facing a group of stubborn criminals who are hell bent on distabilising the country.
“As I am talking to you, the Armed Forces headquarters are in Maiduguri to give us details of what happened,” he said.
The Minister announced that the government is setting up a foundation to cater for the needs of fallen heroes and pensioners and that details will be announced when the plans are ready.
Also, he said that President Goodluck Jonathan has directed an increase in the military pensions adding that all issues relating to payment of pensions without delay have been addressed.
He noted that the Armed Forces Rememberance Day celebration 2014 is a special one because it coincides with Nigeria’s centenary celebration, hence the theme has been provided to underscore the contributions of the Armed forces to global peace and security in the last 100years.
The theme is,”100 years contributions of the armed forces to Global/ National peace and security” and the AFRDC 2014 also affords the country the opportunity to recognise the sacrifice of the military in keeping Nigeria one and united.
The celebration kicks off on 10 December 2013 with the launching of the Emblem and Appeal Fund by President Goodluck Jonathan, and ends on January 15 with wreath laying ceremony at the National Arcade/ Cenotaph.
APC demands probe, seeks new strategy
Miffed by the ease with which the insurgency group, Boko Haram carried out the Monday attack on military bases in Maiduguri, Borno State capital, opposition party, All Progressives Congress (APC) on Tuesday demanded a probe.
A statement by its spokesperson, Lai Mohammed called the attack a disturbing development considering the effective aerial battle success the military had achieved in countering the insurgents.
The party said it condemned the deadly attack on military and other facilities, saying it was shocked and saddened by the enormity of the attack as well as the deaths of innocent civilians.
It said nothing in the world could justify such deadly attacks on the military and the collateral deaths and damages inflicted on civilians.
APC, however, called for a renewed strategy to combat the sect, which seemed to retain the capacity to carry out such a massive attack in a major city, despite the successes which the military said it had recorded against it since the declaration of a state of emergency in three states last May.
The party said such a strategy must place a great emphasis on the gathering of intelligence through which such attacks could be nipped in the bud, adding that failure of intelligence, more than anything else, made Monday’s attack possible.
Borno review dusk to dawn curfew
The Borno State Government in collaboration with security agencies have approved the review of the 24-hour curfew to commence from 7pm to 6am each day until further notice.
All citizens are therefore enjoined to comply with the provisions of the curfew and cooperate with security personnel on duty.
Vehicles on essential services such as ambulances, fire service, media personnel are exempted.
Meanwhile, Borno State Governor, Honourable Kashim Shettima regrets all inconveniences caused to Borno citizens as a result of the curfew.
Meanwhile, there are also indications that the GSM signal would be retored to Borno State, following the attack on airforce base and other security outfit in the state on Monday.
A top government official who did not want his name in print said the signals would be very strong tomorrow but it will not be announced.
“GSM services have been restored fully in Borno State with effect from today. We reviewed the situation with security operatives and agreed that it should be restored,” the source said.
by Lanre Adewole, Chris Agbambu and James Bwala