From ISMAIL OMIPIDAN, Kaduna
Borno State Governor, Kashim Shettima, has described the alleged report linking the military to Boko Haram, as “unfair , most unhealthy, and unhelpful” in the ongoing counter insurgency operations in the country.
This was even as he said such act was inimical to the survival of the nation.
He was reacting to series of media reports that began last week, quoting an unidentified soldier, who alleged that top military leaders were aiding and abetting Boko Haram elements.
In a statement, personally signed by the governor yesterday, a copy of which was made available to Daily Sun, he said: “Of all theories being alleged in connection with the Boko Haram, the most dangerous as far as I’m concerned is to raise such grievous suspicion around our security forces.
“When citizens grow such suspicion and believe in it, I’m afraid, Boko Haram can light fire works to celebrate a grand victory of setting up citizens against the security agencies.
“Since last week, I have listened and read these media reports with the hope that the issue will not get out of hand. But it appears the matter is growing and I find it very disturbing.
“I do not want to bother about the credibility or otherwise of the soldier in question. I’m sure the security forces take this allegation seriously and they are investigating it as they should. I am not holding brief for the armed forces but as Governor of Borno State, whose area is unfortunately the worst hit, who has been closely working with security agencies, I would rather encourage confidence building between citizens and the armed forces, so that intelligence sharing can rise continually and we don’t lose focus in the counter insurgency.
“The day citizens growwith the suspicion regarding security agencies as collaborators of insurgents, whereas the security have the constitutional mandate of protecting citizens, then we will be drifting towards chaos as a Nation. And we cannot afford that unhealthy development.
“Unless it becomes unquestionably evident, we must work as individuals, groups and institutions to promote public trust in our armed forces so as to encourage cordiality between citizens and security agencies. We must recognise that at the moment, the security agencies are all we’ve got, we should preserve their integrity by at least giving them the benefit of doubt.
“As the one working with them in Borno since 2011, I know the number of military men, policemen and women as well as para-military men and women, among them commanders in the military and senior police officers that sacrificed their lives in the fight against our unfortunate insurgency problems in Borno which also obtains in some parts of Nigeria.
“Insurgents will do everything to cause confusion, to manipulate us, so that we don’t trust each other as citizens and as establishments. But let’s not fall into their trap, loose focus and become their mass victims. The military has in the past arrested, made public and court-martialed soldiers found to be collaborating with insurgents. Such patriotic efforts by the military establishments should be intensified by all security agencies.”
From ISMAIL OMIPIDAN, Kaduna