Insurgency: More rivers to cross

Insurgency: More rivers to cross

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You must take this fight to their hideouts. You must go further, that should be the next stage. I won’t accept a situation where our troops are being unnecessary killed or innocent civilians are ambushed on the highways or in some other areas. The remnants (terrorists) that are roaming in the bushes and forest must be followed through. They must be identified and cleared.”

This was the charge handed down to the soldiers of various units of the army in Borno and Yobe states by the Chief of Army Staff, Lt. General Tukur Buratai, while addressing the troops recently. The army boss’ directive followed an earlier matching order given to Service Chiefs to move to Maiduguri due to the re-insurgence of the activities of the terrorists who went berserk and on the prowl.

No doubt, the return of remnants of the insurgents has left everybody wondering, because it was the general belief that they had been completely defeated.

Without equivocation, the military has lived up to expectation in the battle against insurgency. It has degraded and decimated the insurgents; but from the recent upsurge of the insurgency, especially in Borno State, there are indeed more rivers to cross, for people to heave a sigh of relief.

There are allegations, rightly or wrongly, that some selfish individuals or groups in Borno, in particular, the military are working against the peace of the people.

On some occasions, the military had warned some elite and politicians in the North East and Borno in particular against frustrating the efforts of the military in its bid to end the insurgency. For example, on September 25, 2015, it raised the alarm over plans by “some highly placed individuals” in Borno to sabotage the military operations in the region. The military pointed out that the concerned individuals or groups were enlisting the support of the marabouts and some NGOs to achieve their selfish ends. Only recently, the Army spokesman, Brigadier General Sani Usman, issued a statement that parents were donating their children for suicide bombing, saying such practice had become rampant in Borno State.

The leader of the Borno Elders Forum, Amb. Gaji Galtimari, sometime ago, indicted those he said were often involved in arms deal in the state, accusing them of being the sponsors of Boko Haram.

In like manner, there is the allegation that some unpatriotic military men have become fish merchants in Borno and would like to perpetuate the insurgency for self-ends. Neither are some of the customs officers in the border towns of Borno with neighboring countries of Chad, Niger and Cameroon free from the allegation of facilitating gun-running trade along the areas, thereby compounding insecurity, especially in Borno. What of some immigration men at the borders, who were alleged to have been bribed with some dollars to open the gate of the country’s borders to illegal aliens, who would later become security threats!

Right from his assumption as the state Governor, Kashim Shettima never spared some of his kinsmen as he openly accused them of being masterminds and perpetuators of the Boko Haram insurgency. In his major policy statement to the people of the state on July 16, 2011, Kashim said, “I say unto you my brothers, what Hamid Karzai the Afghan President said at the burial of his brother, Wali Ahmed Karzai some few days ago”: My message for them (Taliban) is that my country men, my brothers, should stop killing their own people. It is easy to kill and everyone can do it, but the real man is the one who can save people’s lives.”

In some instances, he accused the people of being masterminds of the conflict, either by design or default. For example, in one of his state budget presentations to the House of Assembly, Kashim indicted the Borno elite of relocating their families and pets to Lagos, Abuja, Kaduna and other places at the inception of the insurgency, leaving the state to burn. Besides, he accused some of them of instigating crises in Borno from their new abodes, using the natives at home.

Let it be made abundantly clear that the more lasting or prolonged the insurgency becomes, for whatever reason or reasons, the more invitation to chaos, maneuovers, intrigues it will be, to contain the confused situation.

For example, a recent report by Amnesty International that Boko Haram terrorists had killed more people in the North East in 2017 than in 2016, despite military interventions, is not encouraging. According to the report by the International body, 223 people died, owing to terrorists’ attacks in the North East, counting from April 2017 till date, showing a sharp rise in the attacks, when compared to the corresponding period in 2016.

According to the report, most of the attacks occurred in Borno with many of them being suicide attacks carried out by women and girls forced into the act. The report similarly pointed out that, at least, 158 people were also killed by the insurgents in Cameroon within the same period. 

“Boko Haram is once again committing war crimes on a huge scale, exemplified by the depravity of forcing young girls to carry explosives with the sole intention of killing as many people as they possibly can,” said Alioune Tine, the Amnesty International Director for West and Central Africa.

For example, a recent report by Amnesty International that Boko Haram terrorists had killed more people in the Northeast in 2017 than in 2016, despite military interventions, is not encouraging

“This wave of shocking Boko Haram violence, propelled by a sharp rise in suicide bombings, highlights the urgent need for protection and assistance for millions of civilians in the Lake Chad regions.” Alioune, as such, charged the governments of Nigeria, Cameroon and other countries to take a “swift action” to protect civilians from “this campaign of terror,” which he said had led to the death of about 100,000 people since 2009.

Similarly, penultimate week, an official of the United Nations Organisation, Mr. Mark Lowcock, regretted that 80 children were used as suicide bombers by Boko Haram to kill 20,000 people in eight years. According to Lowcock, who was speaking at a press conference in Maiduguri, the situation was worrisome, adding that Borno State took the lion’s share of the bombings.

*Izekor, a journalist and public affairs analyst, writes at the pointing.com

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