After series of attack by suspected herdsmen in Benue State which had led to the death of many including a police officer who was recently killed at Yogbo village, police in the state have commenced counter-terrorism operations.
The Commissioner of Police in Benue State, Fatai Owoseni on Sunday confirmed the commencement of the counter-terrorism operation to Channels Television.
He said this is aimed at flushing out herdsmen who are reportedly armed and perpetrating violent attacks in the state.
Speaking to Channels Television during a telephone interview on Sunday, Owoseni said, three of the armed herdsmen were gunned down, prompting the combined team of the police counter-terrorism and special force team to move in for mop-up operations.
The police boss who informed that another policeman is still missing added that credible intelligence revealed the targeting of police personnel by the armed herdsmen. They are reported to be from the Rukubi axis of Doma Local Government Area bordering Yogbo and Yelwata communities of Benue State.
The Chairman of Guma Local Government, Anthony Shawon, also confirmed the killing of four persons in the Yogbo attack. He said the suspects unleashed mayhem about 4:00 p.m. on Saturday when they invaded the village.
Benue State Governor Samuel Ortom on Saturday condemned the Inspector General of Police, Mr Ibrahim Idris after the police boss allegedly blamed the recent killings on the Open Grazing Prohibition and Ranches Establishment Law enacted by the state government.
Governor Ortom condemning the alleged comments by the IGP said they indicated complicity in the act and an abdication of responsibility to protect the citizens and maintain law and order.
The Minister of Defence, Mansur Dan-Ali, believes the Boko Haram terrorists have been seriously degraded by the military, in spite of the latest attacks by the insurgents that claimed several lives in some states.
The minister reiterates the commitment of the Federal Government in building capacities of the Nigerian Armed Forces to enable them perform their statutory functions.
He made the remarks during the passing out parade of 99 officers of the Direct Short Service Course (DSSC) 25 at the Nigerian Air Force Base in Kaduna State.
Addressing the newly commissioned officers, Mr Dan-Ali asked them to be prepared to play their part in defending Nigeria’s territorial integrity, as well as protecting the lives and property of the people.
He also challenged them to live above board and display a high level of competence and patriotism for the support service of the Nigerian Air Force.
Injecting Fresh Hands
The Defence Minister noted that the Air Force operates on a philosophy of zero tolerance for misconduct and cowardice, stressing that the authorities would demand nothing short of the very best from them.
He also implored the graduating officers to respect both military and civil authorities, as well as resist the temptation of taking laws into their hands.
Speaking to reporters after the parade, the Chief of Air Staff, Air Marshal Sadique Abubakar, said the commissioning of the new officers into the service was in line with government’s effort in curbing terrorism by injecting fresh hands into the force.
The DSSC curriculum covers both military and general service subjects, which broadly introduces the cadets to military regimentation, as well as operations and administration of the Nigerian Air Force.
The cadets were drawn from different academic backgrounds such as medicine, engineering, pharmacy, and piloting among other disciplines.
For six months, they were subjected to rigorous physical fitness and weapon training to develop their endurance level, and have also received lectures on counter terrorism operations.
The Acting General Officer Commanding 7 Division Nigerian Army, Brigadier General VU Ezegwu, has inaugurated a General Court Martial in Maiduguri to dispel all pending disciplinary cases.
The court will handle, in particular, cases that occurred in the Theatre of Operation Lafiya Dole but could not be tried summarily.
Twenty military personnel including four officers – two Majors and two Captains – and 16 others, comprising one Staff Sergeant, two Sergeants, two Corporals, three Lance Corporals, seven Privates soldiers and a Naval Sea Man are to undergo trial for different offences.
Addressing members of the court, Brigadier General Ezegwu said: “As you are all aware, discipline is the bedrock of the military profession and to have a disciplined body of officers and men, there must be justice because it is when there is justice that discipline can be achieved.
“Justice implies that infractions of the law must be promptly reported, investigated and the accused persons prosecuted within a reasonable time through the laid down rules, regulations and procedures.
“The outcome of this GCM must therefore be based on careful appreciation of the whole facts of each case and evidence placed before you in the course of trial of these accused persons.
“Finally, you are to please ensure that the judgement you pass on the accused person will stand the test of appellate court, public opinion and above all, that of the Almighty Creator”.
He assured the accused that they were presumed innocent until the court proved them guilty.
“I want to further state that your rights to fair hearing and other fundamental human rights would be adhered to,” Mr Ezegwu reassured the accused.
The nature of the offences include murder, loss of arms, defilement, assault occasioning to bodily harm and desertion, amongst others.
After the inauguration, Brigadier General Olusegun Adeniyi, who will preside over the Court, promised to be fair to all the accused persons, assuring them that they are presumed innocent until proven otherwise.
He further reiterated that the court would hasten its proceedings, as ‘justice delayed is justice denied’.
President Muhamadu Buhari of Nigeria has asked senior military officers to always update themselves in order to be abreast with current security challenges which threaten both national and global security.
The President gave the advice during the graduation ceremony of Senior Course 38 Military Officers at the Armed Forces Command and Staff College, Jaji, Kaduna State.
The President, who was represented at the event by his vice, Professor Yemi Osinbajo, urged the Nigerian Armed Forces to ensure zero tolerance to indiscipline.
He further urged them to join hands with the Federal Government on the ongoing transformation in the Nigerian military, which he said was borne out of the emerging security challenges confronting the nation.
The President also asked the officers to exhibit high sense of professionalism, which the college was known for in the course of their military career.
He stressed the need for the officers to always abide by the Armed Forces Act, standing operational procedures and rules of engagement even in the ongoing counter-insurgency operations in the north east.
Winning The War
While pointing out that the Nigerian military ranked amongst the best in the world, he urged the graduating officers to also contribute their quota to the fight against insurgency in the northeast and other security challenges in other parts of Nigeria.
Speaking to reporters shortly after the event, the Vice President said the Federal Government was winning the war against insurgency in the northeast.
The graduation ceremony formally marked the successful completion of yet another senior course.
The arrival of the Vice President signalled the commencement of the colourful event where a total of 191 students, comprising of 89 Nigerian Army officers, 48 Navy, 31 Air Force officers and 10 para-military students as well as nine international students took part in the course that commenced on July 29, 2015.
The curriculum of their course includes fitness training, rigorous training in basic military subjects and outdoor training exercises.
In line with the current security challenges, the officers were also given a special training on counter-terrorism.
Highlight of the ceremony was the presentation of certificates to the graduating students.
Governor Nasir El-Rufai of Kaduna state, service chiefs and other dignitaries attended the event
The Republic of Jordan and Nigeria are exploring areas of collaboration to bring an end to the threats posed by the Boko Haram terrorists in Nigeria’s northeast.
A delegation led by the Special Adviser to the King of Jordan on Political Affairs, Mr Manas Dabbas, were in Nigeria on Wednesday.
The delegation congratulated the Chief of Defence Staff (CDS) and the Nigerian Armed Forces for their persistence at reducing the activities of the Boko Haram Terrorists.
Jordan sought closer collaboration in the area of intelligence gathering, regional cooperation and capacity building to enhance total eradication of extremist groups in Africa.
Mr Dabbas stated that the world was experiencing serious security threats from assorted radical groups like Boko Haram, Al-Qaeda and Al Shabbab among others.
He called for combined efforts by affected countries to provide mechanisms to under study conflicts and crisis occasioned by terrorist organisations with the aim of defeating such terrorist groups.
The spokesman for His Royal Majesty King Abdullah II praised the efforts of the CDS in piloting the affairs of the Nigerian Armed Forces and promised his country’s commitment to assisting Nigeria in combating the threat posed by Boko Haram.
The Chief of Defence Staff, General Gabriel Olonisakin, thanked the Jordanian envoy for the visit and told the delegation about the operations of the Multi-National Joint Task Force and the synergy between regional troops to degrade the Boko Haram terrorists.
The CDS solicited for cooperation in the area of training and provisions of counter Improved Explosive Devices (IEDs) and emphasised the need to interface with regional forces and security agencies to eliminate the threat of terrorism.
He was accompanied by some Principal Staff Officers from Defence Headquarters to receive the Jordanian delegation.
The Defence Headquarters in Nigeria has issued a strong warning to persons or groups seeking to engage in acts capable of causing a breakdown of law and order.
The warning was contained in a statement by the spokesman for the Defence Headquarters, Brigadier General Rabe Abubakar.
Although the groups were not mentioned in the statement, the military advised Nigerians to refrain from taking laws into their hands and avoid actions that may cause breach to harmonious co-existence.
“Individuals or groups seeking relevance should follow the due process in accordance with the law of our land and not through acts of brigandary,” the statement read.
General Abubakar also advised the general public to ignore inciting pictures, videos and statements posted in some social media platforms which he said were confirmed to be the creation of photoshops with the intention of causing disharmony and divisions among different nationalities.
He further stressed that the military and the security agencies would continue to sustain the current tempo against terrorists, oil thieves, cattle rustlers and other forms of criminalities.
The Defence Headquarters also urge all law abiding Nigerians to go about their normal businesses and report any suspicious persons or object to the nearest security post for prompt action.
The Nigerian Army says it has discovered that the Boko Haram terrorists now have new means of identification.
A statement by a spokesman for the Army, Colonel Sani Usman, said troops of 22 Brigade Garrison and elements of Three Battalion that went out on Monday on a long range fighting patrol to Gima village in Ngala Local Government Area made the startling discovery.
“The patrol came in contact with some elements of the Boko Haram that started escaping in disarray on sighting the team.
“They were able to apprehend two terrorists in their new styled uniform of green colour and use of ropes on their legs and necks.
“This is a new development in the ongoing clearance operations of the remnants of the Boko Haram terrorists in the northeast,” the statement read.
Colonel Usman also stated that the patrol team recovered one Isuzu Canter lorry which was found concealed with grasses, five motorcycles and two bags of guinea corn.
Other items recovered include three Dane guns, a Solar panel, three bows and arrows.
The arrested terrorists are currently being interrogated to further assist in the clearance operations.
The Inspector General of Police, Mr Solomon Arase, says the issue of bribery in the Nigeria Police Force is a product of the fear of the unknown, but something Nigerians should use the provided platforms to eradicate.
Mr Arase told Channels Television on Monday that the issue of bribery had reduced drastically since platforms were put in place to take reports of bribery from the public.
“I have done everything I should do as an Inspector General of Police to open up the Nigeria Police Fore to public accountability. I have set up platforms and I expect Nigerians to use those platforms.
“It is left for Nigerians to say no you can’t do that.
“I have set up the Crime Response Unit and it is the first you have in Africa. I have insisted that there must be a feedback. There must be a response to cases reported to the police through the platform.
“I cannot be everywhere,” he stressed.
The police boss explained that he had established a strategic approach to tackle the issue of bribery.
“I do things that will guarantee their welfare. The Inspectors and rank and file are the most neglected in the Nigeria Police Force and they are the ones you see on the street.
“It (the welfare plan) has been well thought out and I deliberately targeted those groups of people that are creating negative impressions about us. We have not been able to take a look at these group of officers that we can now have the moral attitude to go against them whenever they engage in unprofessional conduct,” he said.
One of the provisions that he had made was the provision of apartments for the officers and scholarship scheme for their children through a foundation.
Deploying Officers To Agatu Unbudgeted For
On the crisis in Agatu between herdsmen and farmers in the community, he said police officers had been deployed to the place but lamented that such provision was not budgeted for and was expensive for the police to handle.
He said: “The communal crisis in Agatu is not new to our system but the magnitude is the issue. It has been reinforced by people who came into our system.
“We have to be able to situate them into historical perspectives.
“I have suggested to Nasarawa and Benue States Governors that the crisis are seasonal outburst. We can already identify the boundaries where it happens. Is it not possible to have a buffer zone? We can secure that place permanently but there is a cost implication.
“The buffer zone will become a force to contend with before access would be gained into the other side”.
He further stated that some policemen had been deployed in Agatu, but also said that the cost implication of deploying men to a troubled spot in a particular point in time was usually unbudgeted for.
“If I deploy them and their welfare is not appropriately taken care of then I am creating another problem.
“It will get to a time that the men will start agitating for better welfare and I will start looking for money to take care of their needs,” he explained.
There have been insinuations that the herdsmen could be members of the Boko Haram that had been chased out of their safe haven by troops on counter-terrorism operations in the north-east.
But the police boss said there was nothing to suggest that they were Boko Haram in disguise.
“We have had an interface with the leadership of the herdsmen and the President and the Secretary had done a lot with the police.”
He further said that some herdsmen suspected to have carried out attacks on farmers had been arrested and were being prosecuted.
Proliferation Of Arm
Giving an insight into the crisis, Mr Arase stressed that pastoralists in Nigeria, historically, have been people who domicile within the nation, known for carrying dagger or bow and arrows.
“The series of wars that have happened within the African sub-region – from Libya, Tunisia, Mali – you will discover that there have been proliferation of arms.
“We have borders that we cannot man appropriately because they are numerous and we have an agreement with ECOWAS to be their friend and develop good neighbourliness. Some of the arms have found their way into Nigeria.
“The guns do not come in legally. They are smuggled. Immigration officers may oversight the guns which are usually slotted in their goods as part of their goods,” he said.
He further gave the police’s commitment to securing Nigerians lives and proper, saying that the force has continued to train its officials who are very vast in crime analysis.
According to him, the trained officials are sent to the states of the federation to give the commissioners of police the expertise to be able to gather information, analyse them and utilise them in internal security management.
The Defence Headquarters in Nigeria has alleged that Boko Haram terrorists now give loans to youth as a bait for membership into the terrorist group that has pledged allegiance to ISIS.
The military said the terrorist group provided loans to young entrepreneurs and artisans in the northeast, as a way of inducing them for recruitment.
In a statement on the Defence Headquarters website, the military claimed that “the major targets of the unholy business engagement are youths in the North East, especially the butchers, traders, tailors, beauticians and other vocational entrepreneurs who could be easily enticed with such loan without paying attention to sundry inherent dangers associated with the acceptance of such goodies from this satanic group or unfamiliar source.
“After such loans, the beneficiaries are given the option of either joining the group or risk being killed if they fail to pay the loan as at when due, whereas the payment has been surreptitiously programmed to fail by the benefactor, the Boko Haram”.
The military further stressed that having been effectively decimated and degraded, the remnant or surviving splinter groups of Boko Haram were desperate to recruit more people into their ranks and files as a result of sustained onslaught against them by the troops.
The Defence Headquarters also advised Nigerians, especially those in the northeast, to constantly be weary and conscious of various tactics of the desperate Boko Haram.
“They should be guided to avoid loan or financial assistance from non-conventional source but from conventional financial institutions such as banks, organised trade unions or institutionalised savings and loans establishments.
“Acting otherwise may lead to painful and untimely death from the blood-thirsty Boko Haram terrorists,” the military further warned in statement.
Boko Haram has carried out series of attacks on communities in the nation’s northeast in its over six years campaign to establish an Islamic State and end western education in the region.
Heightened counter-terrorism operations have reduced their activities, with the group resorting to suicide bombing which they had done even with children, according to a United Nations’ report.
Counter-terrorism experts have suggested the stifling of their source of funding, as a strategy to weaken the group.
The Chief of Air Staff, Air Marshal Sadiq Abubakar, says the Nigerian military is in the last phase of ending the issue of Boko Haram in Nigeria.
Air Marshal Abubakar gave the assurance while addressing reporters in Benin on Wednesday.
It was the commissioning of some projects at the Air Force Medical Centre of the 81 Maritime Group of the Nigerian Air Force in Benin City the capital of Edo State.
He said that apart from equipping the military with the necessary logistics, the government was also taking the welfare of its soldier and their dependents as a top priority in its bid to end terrorism and properly secure the country and this citizens.
The Governor of Adamawa State, Muhammad Umaru Jibrilla, has kicked against the complete withdrawal of the military in the areas recovered from the Boko Haram Sect.
He insisted that military presence should still remain in the state.
The Governor made the comment on Saturday when the Ministerial Committee on the Restoration of Civil Authority, led by Major General Fatai Oladipo of the Nigerian Army, met in his office in Yola.
Speaking to Channels Television after the meeting, Governor Jibrilla appealed for a gradual withdrawal of the military.
After the meeting with the Governor, the committee scheduled a meeting with representatives of communities in the state.
At the meeting, talks will focus on what their problems are and how to restore normalcy in the areas, the withdrawal of the military and the establishment of civil authorities in recovered territories from insurgents in the state.
Other members of the committee are drawn from the Nigerian Air force, Directorate of Secret Services, Serving and retired, the Nigeria Police Force and the Human rights Commission.