As Nigerians prepare to go the polls in less than 30 days, former military President, Ibrahim Babangida, has urged the military to change strategy in order to defeat Boko Haram.
General Babangida also urged the military to ensure it remains apolitical and face its constitutional responsibility of protecting the territorial integrity of the country from external aggressions.
In a statement issued in Minna, capital of Niger State, personally signed by him, yesterday, to mark this year’s Armed Forces Remembrance Day celebration, he pointed out that “it is pertinent for the top echelons of our military to speedily evolve new combat strategy to bravely confront the callous terrorists who have continued to hold many parts of the North East, and in extension, Nigeria in ransom.
“As we prepare to celebrate this year’s Remembrance Day, we should not be oblivious of the fact that our military is presently faced with horrific challenges in the crucial counterinsurgency war, and activities of other blood-thirsty armed groups.
“To say the least, these ugly circumstances are not only heart-rending, but unacceptable.”
Babangida maintained that it is high time, therefore, “we seek to consolidate our gains and also, fortify our combat strength.
“Every year, our valiant Armed Forces majestically roll out their drums to honour our slain fallen heroes, with streams of organised fascinating events coming to a climax on January 15,” and added that “the 2019 edition is coming at a critical period when the teeming Nigerian electorate will go to the polls next month to elect their new leaders at various levels of government.
“In recent times, elections have tested our unity as a people, while also posing threats to our socicultural diversity and challenging our common destiny.
“I salute the uncommon bravery of our lion-hearted fallen heroes who paid the supreme price in their quest to defend our Fatherland. “Let me also commend our armed forces for their resilience over the years in maintaining peace in Nigeria, United Nations Missions, African Union and regional interventions.
“I urge all Nigerians to support our military at all times.
“While identifying with the officers and men of the Nigerian armed forces on the momentous occasion of this year’s Armed Forces Remembrance Day, I wish all Nigerians happy new year,” Babangida said. (The Sun)
The activities of the terrorist sect, Boko Haram, on Monday overwhelmed the Borno State governor, Kashim Shettima, as he broke down in the presence of President Muhammadu Buhari at the Council Chambers of the Presidential Villa.
Shettima was in the Villa with leaders and elders from Borno State. In his introductory remarks at the meeting, he told President Buhari that they came to present a set of observations and specific requests after an extraordinary security meeting they held a week ago in Borno State. He said the elders had concluded that the state required urgent intervention by the president.
Present on the occasion were the National Security Adviser, Major Gen Babagana Monguno (retd); Chief of Defence Staff, Gen. Gabriel Olonisakin; acting Director-General of the National Intelligence Agency (NIA), Ahmed Rufai Abubakar and the Director General, Department for State Services, Yussuf Bitchi.
Shettima amid tears following the current setback in the fight against insurgency, told Buhari that the leaders had not lost hope in his ability to win the war and restore peace to the state.
Following his surprise outburst of emotion, members of the press were excused from the meeting.
Then Shettima said: “Between 2013 and 2014, we witnessed the most daring and most vicious evil of the Boko Haram, losing 20 local government areas.
“However, we rushed here because of the recent upsurge in the activities of the demented monster called Boko Haram especially in northern Borno senatorial district. We are here because since 2015, Mr President, you were able to restore our hope.
“Sir, you have demonstrated empathy for Borno and an overriding commitment to ending the Boko Haram. This is why we rushed here on witnessing some set back.
“We are here because we thought that Allah will use you to fully reclaim Borno’s traditional glory of being the home of peace. We are here as a people who worked, prayed and waited for your presidency in the firm and under the belief that with you as the Commander In Chief, Boko Haram will become history in Borno.
“Mr. President, we have not, and Insha Allah, we will not lose hope in you because we have witnessed and survived worse moments before you came. We do not feel hopeless.
“Our hopes are very much alive and they are very high.
“We came with some observation and ten requests for urgent presidential (president’s) intervention. These observations and requests are products of discussion in the aftermath of our extra-ordinary security meeting held one week ago.
“We didn’t rush to come after the meeting. We felt the need to travel to northern Borno, interact with displaced persons and the military so as to strengthen public confidence.
“I will seek the understanding of the journalists by not making public any of our observation and ten requests. They are matters of security which we hope to discuss with Mr President in a closed door.” (The Sun)
Boko Haram terrorists, in what appears to be an unending onslaught on locations of the Nigerian Army, on Wednesday evening attacked the troops’ base in Damasak, Borno State, resulting in a heavy gunfire which lasted for several hours.
The army has confirmed the attack, saying troops of 145 Battalion in Damasak, withstood the insurgents and killed scores of them in the firefight.
The army was, however, silent on the number of casualties sustained on the side of the troops.
Damasak is a town in the Mobbar Local Government Area, some 146 Kilometres from Maiduguri, the state capital.
It will be recalled that the Boko Haram insurgents only last week attacked troops’ location in Gudumbali in the Guzamala LGA and Baga in the Kukawa LGA, resulting in an undisclosed number of casualties on both sides.
The army’s Director of Public Relations and Information, Brig. Gen. Texas Chukwu, on Thursday confirmed that “many Boko Haram terrorists” were killed in the attack on troops’ location in Damasak.
He said, “Troops of 145 Battalion in Damasak engaged the Boko Haram terrorists who came to attack their location at about 6pm on Wednesday. This resulted into a fierce battle.
“The troops engaged and subdued the terrorists in Damasak following a superior firepower. The troops’ aggressive posture, tactics and marksmanship resulted in the neutralising of many Boko Haram terrorists.
“Consequently, the army wishes to state that the fight against Boko Haram terrorists in the North-East part of the country is yielding a positive result.
“We, therefore, advise members of the public, particularly residents of the affected areas, to go about their legitimate businesses as the army will continue to protect lives and property of citizens at all times.” (Punch)
At least 17 soldiers were killed in a fresh Boko Haram attack on a military base in the Borno, military sources told AFP Thursday, the third assault on three different bases in less than a month.
On Wednesday evening, heavily armed jihadists riding in trucks stormed and looted weapons and vehicles from a military base in Garunda village in Borno State, the epicentre of the Islamist insurgency that has been raging for nine years.
The attack is the latest of a series of bloody Boko Haram assaults on military bases in Nigeria, underscoring the continued threat the Islamists pose to the region and putting the spotlight on the Nigerian government’s claim that Boko Haram is “decimated”.
“Our troops came under attack from Boko Haram terrorists in Garunda last night,” a military officer told AFP.
“Unfortunately we lost 17 troops, 14 others were injured while an unspecified number is still unaccounted for,” said the military source, who asked not to be identified because he was not authorised to speak on the incident.
The source added that the militants looted weapons and vehicles before fleeing.
In the past month, Boko Haram jihadists have launched two other major assaults on military bases in the remote northeast region.
On July 14, jihadists suspected to be loyal to Abu Mus’ab Al-Barnawi, who is affiliated with the Islamic State group, attacked a base in Jilli village, in neighbouring Yobe state.
Dozens of troops were killed, wounded or missing, according to several security sources.
The army conceded the base was attacked but did not give a death toll, saying that the “troops reorganised and successfully repelled the attack and normalcy has since returned to the area”.
On July 26, the Islamists stormed a base on the outskirts of Maiduguri, the state capital of Borno state.
The base attacked yesterday in Garunda village of Borno state had just been set up for troops from the 81 brigade who had been stationed in Jilli village and forced to move after the July 14 assault.
“The truth of the matter is that the troops in Jilli were relocated to Garunda where a new base was established,” said the second military source, who gave a similar death toll.
“Troops were just setting up and the excavator operator was working to fortify the base with trenches against attack from the terrorists when the attack happened,” said the officer.
The Nigerian army did not respond to requests for comment.
Nigeria’s National Emergency Management Agency (NEMA) on Thursday confirmed in a statement that a staff member, an excavator operator attached to the military, “was killed by Boko Haram yesterday in Damasak, Borno state”.
Boko Haram no longer controls swathes of territory in northeast Nigeria as it did at the height of its insurgency in 2014, yet the Islamist militants still pose a threat to the impoverished region. (AFP)
President Muhammadu Buhari is currently in a meeting with the security chiefs at the presidential villa, in Abuja.
The meeting is also being attended by the Vice President Yemi Osinbajo, the Corps Marshal of the Federal Road Safety Corps (FRSC), as well as the Comptroller General of Immigrations (NIS), Mohammed Babandede.
Although the agenda of the meeting was not made known as at press time, the meeting may not be unconnected with the current security challenges in the country, particularly, the continued attacks by suspected herdsmen in parts of the country, especially the north-central states. (The Sun)
The Emir of Kano, Sarkin Muhammad Sanusi 11, on Tuesday, in Kano, attributed the spate in violent crimes and siege of other criminalities to endemic poverty and inequality in Nigeria.
Emir Sanusi spoke at the Northern Regional Conference on “Security, Justice and Development: Effective Implementation of Interventions,” organised by Prisoners Rehabilitation and Welfare Action (PRAWA), in the state capital.
He stressed that justice, development and economies were all linked together while tasking the leaders and the elite class to help create more wealth and income opportunities for all.
He held that most security problems, all over the world, had their roots in the economic and justice systems of the society adding that poverty breeds angry and discontented people, who in turn, resort to extreme violence against the society to ease their frustration.
He acknowledged the widespread poverty in the country, exemplified by lack of income opportunities, lack of access to education, poor medical facilities, among others, adding Nigeria had been listed to overtake India, as the next poverty capital of the world by next year.
He pointed out that poverty had been criminalized in the land, which should not be so, while appealing for consideration for those who took to crime due to lack of opportunities to survive.
“We must not tolerate extremism. But extremism only succeeds where there is widespread anger and discontent in the society” he said insisting that emphasis should shift from war planes and other weapons to making life better for the greatest number of Nigerians in the region.”
While commending the efforts of President Muhammad Buhari in sustaining the war against terror , a former Governor of Rivers State and Chairman of PRAWA, Chief Alabo Gabriel, however, regretted the monumental loss of life, property and means of livelihood in the affected communities.
Gabriel also expressed support for the current efforts of the Federal Government to provide support and a new lease of life to the largely displaced survivors of the catastrophic disaster. (The Sun)