As the debate regarding whether or not to extend the ‘state of emergency’ imposed on the three terror infested states of Borno, Yobe and Adamawa States goes on following its scheduled end in May, two, dastardly acts of devilish intents recently threw the nation into a quagmire.
These were the Nyanya Motor Park bombing on April 14, 2014 by the Boko Haram terrorists group which claimed over 100 lives with over 200 others wounded, though the Police gave an official figure of 72 dead, and the mindless abduction of young school girls of Government Girls Secondary school, Chibok whose number has now been put at 234.
Before these incidents, there had been waves of attacks either by suicide bombers on military checkpoints or attacks on sports viewing centers, banks, currency operators and markets among others which claimed many lives.
Prominent Islamic scholars who dared to speak out against the ungodly act of the Islamic sect and even traditional rulers have also been sent to the world beyond.
But the Military and other security agencies have not been resting on their oars in a determined bid to bring the scourge of the murderous sect to an end.
This attempt by the military working in synergy with other security agencies have however suffered some setbacks due to several factors which Saturday Vanguard investigation has found out to include sabotage, outright lies, deceit and connivance on the part of vested interest who for reasons best known to them, would not like the carnage of the group to go away just yet.
For instance, Saturday Vanguard was told that the terrorists have been found to be getting support from politicians of all grades especially those from the North East and the larger Northern environment. Governors of these areas were also fingered in the situation accusing them of playing conspiracy including coming out with statements in the day and doing the opposite at night.
A source disclosed that security operatives are suspicious about the manner the terrorists acquire their logistics equipment including vehicles and the fueling which enable them to move at nights to perpetrate havoc and mayhem.
“Yes, there is possibility that most of the vehicles are being smuggled through the many porous border points which we cannot police in one fell swoop but how are they getting the resources to acquire these vehicles? The more we capture many of them and destroy them, the more the terrorists are seen with more vehicles”.
Noting that there was a greater ploy to ensure Boko Haram continues to thrive for some selfish political agenda, the source said, “What we are actually witnessing in the polity whereby politicians especially from that area are calling on and attacking the government at the center for not doing enough, is a game plan of lies, and deceit.
“It is to give the impression that the terrorists are having it easy and holding sway whereas, they are the ones sponsoring and instigating their murderous acts. These people don’t give a damn about the lives that are lost. They never did even in the past, which is why they have continued to do everything to ensure the misguided youths remain almajiris, so that they will continue to be manipulated.
“The military on their part have sometimes given hint of a slip in their operations thereby creating room for a section of Nigerians to believe they have deceived the public in the outcome of some of their operations; as have been disclosed by rights groups and amnesty international”.
But starting with the abducted secondary school girls out of which 44 are said to have regained their freedom, the military high command ordered retraction of an earlier statement claiming that majority of the girls were rescued following a pursuit of some of the abductors, resulting in the arrest of one of them.
While many described the action of the military as unprofessional considering the level of confidence most Nigerians have developed on their troops following acknowledged successes in the battle to flush the terrorists out of the North East, the military insist its operations are not for political purposes hence when the same people who said, most of the girls have regained the freedom, recanted, the reasonable thing to do was to retract it.
Officers and soldiers on ground insisted that the Principal of the school confirmed to the troops that only eight of the students were yet to be found as at Wednesday before the Defence headquarters issued the statement.
A source noted that it was therefore a big surprise that on Thursday morning, the same Principal made a u-turn after she had been summoned by the Borno State government.
According to the source, “If the Borno state government insists that only 14 of the students were freed that Wednesday, who were the other persons mostly girls that were freed? Why was nothing said about them?
“In the first place, how come that when the school authorities and the Borno state government decided that the girls were going to be invited to write the exams, they did not inform the security agencies to enable adequate security protection for the school”
Security sources are however said to be working on a new intelligence indicating that the abducted young girls are part of a buffer or human shield to be used by the terrorists to stop the air bombardments of their hideouts in the Sambisa forests, a large expanse of forest and jungle that has borders with Cameroon, Niger and Chad.
Following its very difficult terrain, the Nigerian Airforce recently declared that since it commenced air bombardments in support of ground offensive to eradicate Boko Haram insurgency in the country, it has conducted 1, 024 missions of various description.
Some of the aircraft used in the missions according to investigations included the Alpha jets, the Mi 35 helicopter gunships, the G222 medium airlift aircraft, the Super Puma helicopters, the Augusta 107, and the C-130 aircraft.
It is against this background that firstly, the group targeted the Airforce base, Maiduguri and attacked broken down aircraft and helicopters thinking that it will help demobilize the NAF operations. Since May 2013, the military onslaught to dislodge the terrorists has greatly been helped by the air assault launched from time to time by the Mi35 Helicopter gunships.
‘”he helicopters are a nightmare to the insurgents and they dread the Nigerian Air force for that. When they are to be used, it is either the fighter helicopters take off from the Maiduguri Air force base or fighter jets take off to launch raids from the Yola Air force Special Squadron’”a source said.
Saturday Vanguard learnt that there have been instances when soldiers have stalled in their land assault with a view to avoiding mines, booby traps and ambush until the air force helicopter pilots carried out air assaults to soften the ground raids.
In the course of prosecuting the offensive, there have been talk of fifth columnists among the security agencies and unconfirmed stories have it that during some raids, soldiers have fallen victims of terrorists ambush and other sell outs, during which several troops have been killed or injured in gun battles.
On the political front, the activities of politicians especially from the three states in supporting the sect through what is referred to as protection fees is no longer a hidden fact. While some are said to pay as much as N4million to the sect, a state government is said to have paid the sum of N25million for the release of a prominent citizen of Borno state that was recently abducted.
The elderly man of over 70years, was dumped in the boot of a car, driven for about 70kilometres and thrown into the bush. He almost suffocated to death before he was revived.
The large and uncontrollable porous borders that cut across countries like Niger, Chad, Cameroon, Mali, where mercenaries are easily recruited by politicians to come in, perpetrate havoc, maim innocent citizens is another source of worry.
Questions have also been asked as to where the terrorists get there weaponry and logistics support from. Stories of terrorists driving in convoy of 10 or 15 cars to perpetrate their murderous activities and driving through the desert have made Nigerians wonder how the terrorist who though, have resorted to night attacks to avoid military tracking by day get finances.
A top security source told Saturday Vanguard that “When the sect wants to carry out sinister acts, it goes to communities far off from the communities where troops and other security agencies were deployed. Another thing is that because of the remoteness of some of the communities, it is not possible to deploy our men to all the communities”.
Explaining that the way out was for government to acquire more equipment for the Air force and the army because of the terrain involved“, the source said if the air force had enough aircraft for instance and they can be carrying out air patrols at night, they would be able to inform the ground troops to move in and checkmate the attacks.
“But even when the air patrols are carried out, sometimes, the movement of troops to the scene of attack have been hampered by obsolete equipment that is available to the army. There have been instances where tyres of military vehicles, Armoured Tanks and other equipment have failed in time of urgent need because most of the equipment bought 30 years ago are worn out and the parts have not been replaced”.
The source noted that but for the determination and dexterity of officers of the armed services who out of necessity carried out local rehabilitation and refitting of some of the equipment in use presently in combating terrorism and other crimes like cross border banditry, the story would have been unpalatable. Recalling that the last time the military were properly equipped was in the 1980s during civil administrations, the top shot said. “It is now that it’s dawning on the country what the military administrations of the past did to the military. They virtually demobilized the armed forces. If not for the rebuilding under this democracy, these hoodlums would have thoroughly embarrassed the armed forces and the country”.
Reacting to the equipment shortcoming which some have pointed to, the Defence Headquarters recently described as untrue, allegations that the military is not succeeding due to operational blunders and poor logistics supplies on the part of its Commanders.
Director of Defence Information, Major General Chris Olukolade said the allegations are a ploy by certain persons or group to rubbish the sacrifices and commitment of the armed forces to restore sanity to the area.
The statement reads, “The Defence headquarters wishes to refute in its entirety the allegations in a publication entitled “War on Insurgency: Operational Blunders, Poor Supplies Causing Military Losses.
“In the report, the publication alluded to operational blunder, obsolete weapons and under-stocked armouries as some of the major reasons behind what it termed “military’s apparent inability to end the Boko Haram insurgency.
“The Defence Headquarters wishes to emphatically state that the information contained in these reports did not emanate from any credible or authentic source within the Defence Headquarters or the military establishment as claimed by the writers of that story.
“Accordingly, the public is enjoined to discountenance this and similar reports attributed to these spurious and unknown defence sources as they do not represent the fact about the situation in the military or the ongoing operations”.
And considering the blame game that the insurgency battle has elicited in the past week by prominent Nigerians, it was therefore seen as a welcome development, the recent submissions of a former head of state and someone who knows the carnage and disservice that terrorism does to a people and a nation.
Buhari’s words, “These acts have no place in Nigeria. Those who commit them (killings, destruction, abductions) have no place in our country. The perpetrators may look like human beings. They may have limbs and faces like the rest of us but they are not like us. In killing innocent people, they have become inhuman. They live outside the scope of humanity.
“Their mother is carnage and their father is cruelty. They have declared war against the people of Nigeria. They have shown that they do not want to liberate the people. They want to kill them. Yet, with all the energy of their evil and ignorant hatred, they shall fail. The good people of Nigeria shall triumph.
“Not only have these agents of death killed innocent people, they also abducted young girls from their school. Why abduct school girls? Whatever they plan, they should be ready to face the wrath of Nigerian people. They should release these young girls unharmed. Anything else would be an abominable crime”.