Troops of the Nigerian Army have killed four members of the Boko Haram terrorists with the capture of one in the troubled Yobe state, northeast Nigeria.
The spokesman of the 27 Taskforce Brigade, Lieutenant George Okupe, while confirming the killings and the arrest of the militants in a statement revealed that the operation was carried out in Geidam Local Government Area of the state with the assistance of the local vigilante group.
The statement reads: “It was observed that Boko Haram activities were seen around Jororo via Tombaeji village in Geidam Local Government Area of Yobe state and upon alerting securities, an immediate patrol team was deployed to the area
“The troops came in contact with the insurgents promptly around Gajeri village and a gun duel that lasted for 15 minutes led to the death of the four insurgents with the capture of one.”
The troop according to the statement recovered two General Purpose Machine Gun (GPMG) two AK 47 Riffles and 144 rounds of 7.62 mm of special ammunition.
The statement also said that security forces recovered two KASEA motorcycle from the insurgents and were immediately set ablaze by the troops.
The Army has called on the people of the state to continue to support security operatives in the fight against the insurgents for the full restoration of peace in the state.
The activities of the Boko Haram militants have drooped in recent times as attacks on communities and individuals have reduced drastically sequel to the heavy onslaught on the militants by security forces since the assumption of the Buhari administration.
The Kaduna State Police Command has arrested 31 armed robbery suspects who specialize in snatching of cars, motorcycles and women handbags.
The Commissioner of Police, Kaduna State Command, Umar Shehu, said an AK47 rifle, four bareta pistols, four single barrel short guns, five single barrel long guns, 39 rounds of live ammunition and 92 live cartridges were recovered from them.
The Commissioner also disclosed that the suspects were arrested in Zaria, Kafanchan and Kaduna, the state capital, by operatives of the Special Intelligence Bureau (SIB), during a stop and search operation and cross fire, following a tip-off from members of the public.
During the operation, a total number of 8 vehicles of various kinds including a Prado jeep, 14 motorcycles were also recovered from the robbers.
Mr Shehu noted ed that the arrests were made within this month of May, 2015.
According to the Commissioner, the suspects usually take their stolen vehicles to Niger Republic, where they sell them to their accomplices, adding that the command is working closely with the Interpol in Niger Republic to track down stolen vehicles and their buyers.
Other arrests made by the command include 16 members of a suspected terrorist group known as ‘Sara- Suka in Rigasa, Igabi Local Government Area of the state, where they have been attacking residents and later killed a middle aged man, injuring two others.
Mr Shehu however reiterated that the command would not relent in its fight against criminals and criminality throughout the state, urging car owners to come to the command with their vehicle papers to claim their vehicles.
One of the robbery suspects, Ibrahim Kabir, who is a 20 year old boy and a 200 level Accountancy student of Ahmadu Bello University, Zaria, confessed to the crime.
Kabir narrated how he got involved in the crime and however begged for forgiveness. He also disclosed how they sold the stolen vehicles at giveaway prices.
A journalist from the Northern Nigeria based Verbatim Newspapers, Ibrahim Modibo, has described the Nigerian states ravaged by insurgency as a theatre of the absurd.
Describing the region as a zone that has fallen, Modibo who is also from the region decried the hardship being faced by people in the region since the insurgency started, adding that there had been no clear vision or mission while trying to subdue the insurgency.
He said that the emergence of the Boko Haram was an offshoot of people who believe that “education instead of being a blessing has been a curse, in the sense that most of the Boko Haramists up till the moment were educated people” as it would be impossible for an illiterate to mix chemical together to make a bomb to destroy lives and property.
“I can tell you they are educated people and they have seen how the democratic governance has been able to turn the zone and Nigeria as a whole in a topsy-turvy, where the people have not been able to benefit directly from the government.
“There has been failure of governance in the sense that the democratic atmosphere has not been able to give the people the democratic dividends they need.”
“It is in view of this that this people assembled to fight the system. They have been driven by puritanical vindictiveness as the inspiration to wage a war against the people or the government has not been drawn from any scriptural perspective, whether it is Islam or Christianity.
He stated that they carry out their terror acts “feeling that the country should move towards more of puritanical nuances rather than the democratic atmosphere in which it lives”, a situation he referred to as “one of the saddest and most unfortunate things that have happened to the country.”
He stated that there could be no justification for the killings by the sect based on religious or moral views or the alleged failure of the government, as the sect could have stood to form a political party or a group to pressurize the government.
He added that the Boko haram has not been fair to the people in the Northeast because they were the ones suffering the attacks as well as the lack of liberty, economic challenges and the neglect by the government and its failure in taking care of the masses.
The Northeast indigene noted that the Boko haram started as a religious movement but was hijacked by religious extremists who believed that making Government responsible could only be done through violence.
He insisted that this was about the political system and not a religious war as the insurgents have been going to both mosques and churches to kill people, adding that with their spate of attacks, they may have killed more Muslims than people from any other religion.
We Don’t Need State of Emergency
“With the State of Emergency, our economy has been in comatose, the people have been devastated, they’ve been hopeless and helpless, the region has been completely destroyed.
“Some villages and towns have been razed to the ground and in terms of people, because of all these checkpoints the social and economic activities have been crippled.
“I can tell you, in the Northeast we are suffering, we don’t even have a sense of belonging because honestly and sincerely Government has not been able to do a lot.
“How we wish it would take up its responsibility and come to our aid and also look at the issues dispassionately. This is not time for politicking but one for serious reflection on the problems in which the region has found itself”, he said.
“We are suffering; whenever I go home within Yola where I live it is very difficult if not impossible for free flow of movement. You can’t associate beyond 9pm.
“We don’t even need State of Emergency to fight Boko Haram”, if the military was serious”, he said.
We Have The Military Might
Mr Modibo also said that the Nigerian military and the Government would need to stand up to the Boko Haram sect with some seriousness.
He noted that the civilian JTF had tried its best to help the military but they could only do little with information gathering because they have not been trained nor equipped to face a Boko Haram that has sophisticated weapons.
He wondered why Boko Haram has been on since 2009 and they have not been subdued.
“Are we now saying that the Boko Haram which is a ragtag hungry looking religious extremist would be able to override this country with all the military might that we have as the largest and also the most sophisticated country in sub-Saharan Africa?”
“We must stand up to this people but in the event of us not being able to conquer them in terms of warfare, what is the next option? I strongly believe an olive branch can be sent to them just like what happened in Niger-Delta.
He, however, further expressed confidence in the Nigerian Army to conquer the sect, provided the government was willing to empower its Army. “I am sure we have a Nigerian Army that has the force; the might and psychological balance to go and meet these people and conquer them or at best make them to surrender.
“Let the President challenge the heads of the security units, give them the next 4 or 5 months, if there’s a will and a determination to fight these people we can finish it in 2 to 3 months because we have the capacity.”
The Senior Special Assistant to the Nigerian President on Public Affairs, Dr. Doyin Okupe has admitted that the growth of terrorism in Nigeria may indeed be connected to the poor socioeconomic conditions in the country.
Dr. Okupe was the guest of Channels Television breakfast programme, Sunrise, where he was joined by Journalist, Sola Ojewusi, and a Legal Practitioner, John Oloyede to examine ‘What Boko Haram Wants’.
The group – whose official Arabic name translates as “People Committed to the Propagation of the Prophet’s Teachings and Jihad” – says it is fighting to overthrow Nigeria’s Government and establish an Islamic state.
Dubbed Boko Haram or “western education is sinful” by locals for its rejection of European values, the sect was founded in the early 2000s by cleric, Mohammed Yusuf, and gained a steady following in the northern city of Maiduguri, preaching against secular values in a nation which is split between large Muslim and Christian populations.
Okupe, tracing the strength of the group back to the founding strategies of its leader, noted that the late cleric gained the loyalty of many youths because he was assisting them to solve issues bordering on their economic challenges, while teaching them his beliefs.
“In his method of recruitment, he stood in the gap, giving social services and helping young people.
“A young man whose parents are not wealthy and has gotten to the age of getting married and he hasn’t got the means to pay dowry and somebody helps him; that man becomes his mentor. So, poor economic conditions may have some measure of role to play in the festering of this phenomenon”, he said.
The provision of economic and social support by Boko Haram – which included providing meals and economic schemes, a youth empowerment programme, support for trading, as well as helping to arrange cheap marriages between sect members – has led some to ascribe the group’s growth to a failure of governance in Nigeria.
Mr. Ojewusi, however, noted that it would be too simplistic to attribute the growth of the sect to bad governance, as the issue of Boko Haram started way before the present administration, and looking at the history of terrorism, it was not new in Nigeria.
“What we are having is an offshoot of what has been from the beginning”, he noted.
While also admitting that Government indeed has a role to play, he explained that examining Boko Haram as an entity should not be done in isolation as it was not peculiar to Nigeria, being an international body. “You have to look at it from countries like Niger, Northern Cameroon, and Chad.
He stated that the escalation of the group in Nigeria showed that there was more than meet the eye and those underlying factors should be what Nigerians need to focus on, if they would find a solution to the menace.
The Legal Practitioner, John Oloyede, admitted generously.
“You cannot tell me that because America has had to contend with terrorism in Iraq is simply because the American Government does not know how to handle terrorism. Even the terrorists took the war to America and they had their way”, he said.
On the view that America differed from Nigeria in the sense that it was not dealing with home-grown terrorists owing to its higher economic standards, Oloyede disagreed, claiming that the situation in Nigeria was also not totally home-grown.
He argued further, “America has gone through the same situation we have now. You can take from history the case of Cuban refugees – those who were sympathetic towards the Cuban cause then. America was on fire, the Cubans were bombing all the places, the Government didn’t know what to do, it took like 10-15 years before they could nip that problem in the bud.”
Referring to an earlier statement by Dr Okupe that poor and unemployed people had become easy prey for the sect’s recruitment strategies, using the maxim “Devil finds work for an idle hand”, Mr Oloyede said: “Poor people cannot afford AK47; they can’t buy these arms and ammunition – anti aircraft guns – that we see, so they are not poor people, we need to clear that from our conscience, because Nigerians we are turning against one another – APC accusing PDP, PDP accusing APC.
“When Al-Qaeda struck America, the American people came together. These elements are using psychology, and we are doing exactly what they want us to do out of fear. We are blaming each other instead of us to see them as a common enemy and face them as such.
“We are blaming our military men that they are not doing the job, they are ill equipped, No. I don’t think President Jonathan or General Buhari is happy with what is happening; they just can’t do anything about it.”
The response and sensitivity of the Federal Government then came to the fore as Dr Okupe defended the President, stating that the case of America’s 9-11 attack should not be compared to Nigeria’s.
“For every attack that becomes visible and devastating, eight or nine have been stopped; but you know when an attack is foiled Government does not come to the air to talk about it.
Okupe, speaking on the demands of the sect, noted that their demands were clear on wanting full implementation of Sharia laws; he added that they also demanded that the Holy Quran becomes the guiding principles of the country amongst other requests which he said could be negotiated if the insurgents were truly representing Islam.
“Today we’ve got infiltration by actual crass criminals who are not really totally Nigerians complicated by political activists who also demand some other things. So it has become an appearance of incongruous gathering of people you cannot easily discern.”
He, however, stated that even as the country is at war with the Boko Haram sect, the Federal Government was working relentlessly to win the war but Nigerians need to understand that the war has been made difficult by the nations peculiar population and topography.
Right activist and Senior Advocate of Nigeria, Femi Falana on Monday said the presence situation in the country is nothing short of a full blown war.
Mr Falana, who was a guest on Channels Television’s programme, Sunrise Daily, said a situation where a clash between terrorists and security operatives led to the death of over 187 people; where unknown cultist ambush and slaughter over 40 police officers; and where a Supreme Court Judge is presently looking for his wife, child and driver can be nothing short of war.
“There is a war everywhere; that is why as Nigerians, we cannot afford to leave the Federal Government to fight this war; they cannot,” he said. Mr Falana said though the country is facing a huge war it is ill-prepared to fight.
“These boys have more sophisticated weapon than our armed forces,” he said.
The lawyer said the Federal Government is playing politics with the fight against terrorism by not providing the police with adequate equipment to fight insurgents and criminals.
He said, “A lot of money was budget for security and defence this year, what has happened to the fund if by the middle of May you haven’t passed the budget? It is tantamount to shedding crocodile tears if we simply express regret anytime policemen or soldiers are killed when we didn’t armed them, when we didn’t sufficiently equip them.
“How many of our soldiers and policemen have learnt anything about counter-terrorism? It is a new terrain. How many of them are trained to fight or participate in guerrilla warfare because that is what is going on.
“Are we saying we are so poor that we cannot acquire helicopters to conduct aerial surveillance on a daily basis in these areas?
“Do you know that the policemen and most of the soldiers sent to combat these boys have no bullet proof? It is that bad. You just simply give them Ak47.”
The Nigerian Army has commenced its annual range classification shooting exercise for officers and soldiers in weapon handling and other military skills.
The Army says this is aimed at improving the proficiency and professional competence of its personnel and re-evaluating officers and soldiers on their mastery of weapons in line with the Nigerian army headquarters’ vision of maintaining a professional force.
The exercise which is planned to last for two months is taking place at the Nigerian Airforce Base shooting range, Mando Kaduna, North West Nigeria.
Briefing journalists on the importance of the exercise, the general officer commanding One Division, Nigerian army, Major General Abdul Wahab said the training would equip the officers and men as marksmen with the aim of reducing casualties among the civilian populace in the fight against terrorism and other security challenges.
Weapons such as AK47, FN, pistols and general purpose machine guns are to be used for the exercise which included static 200 meters, 100 meters firing at targets and movement exercise.
Although the Nigerian army is noted for its sterling records in peacekeeping and internal security operations, the force has also recorded cases of professional negligence from its personnel. It is against this backdrop that the army headquarters considered it appropriate to conduct yearly range classification shooting exercise for its personnel.
It is expected that the officers and men undergoing the training will come out better equipped to fight the current terrorism and insurgency in the country.
Gunmen Friday morning invaded the Agricultural Cooperative and Rural Development Bank in Gashua, the headquarters of Bade Local Government area of Yobe state. The State commissioner of Police, Patrick Egbuniwe who confirmed the incident to Channels Television in Damaturu the Yobe state capital said the gun men had during the operation disarmed a police corporal and shot him in the leg before shooting sporadically within the bank premises.
He revealed that residents pursued the hoodlums to Annex B hotel also in Gashua town where two suspects were apprehended.
Mr Egbuniwe said one AK 47 rifle as well as the gun snatched from the police on guard was recovered.
One of the suspects according to him was killed in the process while the other is currently being interrogated as investigation has also commenced on the case.
According to the police commissioner, the non-commissioned police officer who was shot during the attack later died while receiving treatment at the Gashua General Hospital.
The state police chief said some gunmen attempted to disrupt the Friday Muslims prayers in Damaturu but that their mission was repel by security forces.
He said the shooting was heard around the emir of Damaturu Palace few minutes into the prayers as worshippers were held for sometimes after the prayers.
Damaturu the Yobe state capital has become a war zone of recent as attacks on security men as well as residents has become a routine affair which has led to many residents taken refuge in some places within the state and the country for fear of attack.