Nigeria, France To Strengthen Agreements In Defence Matters

Francois-Hollande-and-Muhammadu-BuhariNigeria and France will sign a letter of intent that will further strengthen the agreements in defence matters between both countries.

Addressing journalists on Saturday, after holding talks with President Muhammadu Buhari at the Presidential Villa in Abuja, President of France, Francois Hollande, said the letter embodies the operation between the two countries.

He did not give details of the agreement.

Providing Intelligence

The French President, however, stated that France had been supporting the counter-insurgency activities by providing intelligence, equipment and training for the mission of the Multi-National Joint Task Force.

Mr Hollande further pointed out that the Boko Haram group had been forced to lose ground and forced to give up territories they were controlling.

He said the regional summit on security holding in Abuja, Nigeria’s capital on Saturday would afford the leaders an opportunity to discuss further on the Multi-National Joint Task Force.

Discussions at the Security Summit are expected to focus on the formal deployment of a new regional force comprising troops from Nigeria and her neighbours.

Mr Hollande played a major role in the formation of the task force that had added impetus to counter-terrorism operations against the insurgents in Nigeria’s north-east.

He had in 2013 called a meeting of the leaders of Nigeria and its neighbours to figure out a strategy that would end the cross-border movement of terrorists.

 

Two Suspected High Profile Terrorists Arrested After Shootout

Boko HaramTwo masterminds of last year’s bombing at the Gombe Line Transport Services in Gombe State, north-east Nigeria, have been arrested after a shootout with troops.

The Defence Headquarters said the two apprehended persons, suspected to be high profile terrorists, were eventually arrested on Sunday following surveillance and intelligence operations.

According to the military, the suspects were tracked to a check point at Bajoga in the state.

On its Twitter handle, the military said interrogation of the suspects had started.

Triple bomb explosions had occurred at the terminal of the transport company in October last year, leaving at least seven persons dead.

After the bombing at that time, the police said they arrested three suspects in connection with the bombing, which occurred even after the government said it had reached a ceasefire agreement with the Boko Haram terrorist group.

Counter-terrorism operations are ongoing in Nigeria’s north-east region in an attempt to end the over five years insurgency perpetrated by members of the Boko Haram sect.

Armed Forces Form Civil-Military Inter-agency To Tackle Terrorism

Alex-BadehThe Nigerian Armed Forces has established a strategic Inter-agency Civil-Military Cooperation Community aimed at improving the relationship between civilians and military personnel in the fight against terror in the north-east.

At the inauguration of the inter-agency, the Chief of Defence Staff, Air Marshall Alex Badeh, identified a robust civil-military relations as a tool required to win the war against insurgency.

Air Chief Badeh said the formation of the community was a tool for the armed forces and other security agencies to key into, current international best practices in internal security operations.

The insecurity in the north-east and the nature of military operations in tackling a terrorist group, Boko Haram, led to the engagement of the civilians by the military especially in the north.

Air Marshall Badeh, said that the collaboration had yielded positive results in the war on terror.

“When the military is at war, it is the entire nation that is at war. It is, therefore, imperative that all instruments of national power, ranging from diplomacy, information, military and economy should be used to fight the common enemy,” he said.

Northern Governors Seek Ways Of Solving Insurgency

 

The Niger State Governor, Muazu Babangida Aliyu
The Niger State Governor, Muazu Babangida Aliyu

Governors of Nigeria’s northern states have stressed the need for Nigerians to assist security agencies in identifying the culprits and sponsors of the Boko Haram insurgents.

Rising from a meeting on Tuesday centred on how peace will be restored in the north east region, the governors stated that proper information to security agencies would go a long way in ending the insurgency.

In a communique read at the end of the northern states governors emergency meeting held in Abuja, the chairman of the forum and governor of Niger State, Dr Muazu Aliyu, said that the recent trip to the United States of America by 12 governors from the north was aimed at providing a strong platform for enhanced co-operation that would address security, social, economic and governance issues peculiar to states in the north.

“The security situation, the crime rate and the general insecurity in the north are increasingly becoming daunting, ranging from mayhem being perpetrated by insurgents, characterised by sporadic killing and attacks on school and communities leading to several deaths and citizens being displaced,” he said, reading from the communique.

He further stated that the forum agreed that there was the need to identify the culprits and sponsors of Boko Haram insurgents.

All member states are to establish a security trust fund in the various states to ensure that the states will not run out of fund in fighting insurgency in the north.

The forum expressed optimism that the National Conference would provide a focused forum for the nation and its citizens to discuss security challenges, rule of law and corruption among others.

The Boko Haram insurgents have carried out several attacks on villages in the north east and have increased the spate of attacks some weeks ago, leading to a reinforcement of military offensives by the government.

The offensive is yielding results, as the military has discovered at least two Boko Haram armouries in the last two weeks.

Emergency Rule: Presidency Says Al-Jazeera’s Report On Civilian Casualties Is Misleading

The Presidency has re-affirmed that the Emergency rule currently imposed on Adamawa, Yobe and Borno states is meant to protect the civilian and the territory from the assault b on the Nigerian state by insurgents and terrorists.

This re-affirmation comes on the heels of a special report by Aljazeera (see the report here) which indicates that large numbers of civilians have been caught in the cross-fire between military forces and insurgents but reacting to the widely televised report in a statement, President Goodluck Jonathan’s Special Adviser on Media and Publicity, Reuben Abati stated that the report on state of emergency and “civilian casualties” is contrived and misleading.

The statement reads:

We view with grave concern, the attempt by sections of the media, especially the foreign media to mislead the general public and the international community about the on-going State of Emergency and military operations in three states of the Federation: Adamawa, Yobe and Borno. For the avoidance of doubt, the declaration of a state of emergency and the consequential security operations are meant to protect the civilian population and the territory from the macabre and dastardly assault on the Nigerian state by insurgents and terrorists. It is not an operation against innocent citizens as Al-Jazeera and others are suggesting.

In executing this sovereign objective, President Jonathan explicitly directed that the operations be conducted in line with applicable rules of engagement and peculiar care in managing a unique situation. In an earlier statement, he had also made it clear to the military high command and received assurances that those who violate their operational orders will be disciplined accordingly. In line with this regard for the rights of the civilian population, the President Jonathan had ordered the release of women and under-aged persons in protective custody, and made arrangements for their immediate rehabilitation. Fifty eight persons in this category have been released.

The Armed Forces have also secured the release of six women and children in Boko Haram captivity. There is nothing to suggest so far any violation of operational orders by the troops operating in the North East. Their intervention has received popular support, among the civilian populace, and within two weeks of operation, the possibility of calm and normalcy resonates even as enclaves of terrorists are raided and their capacity to continue their reign of terror heavily compromised. This is a process and the Government owes it to the people of the North-East to see it through.

The Jonathan administration believes that media reporting of the reality of living in a state of emergency is needed to keep the local and international community well informed and to hold accountable those prosecuting the military operation to help build trust and sustain the public support needed to build lasting peace.

Rather curiously however, the last two weeks have witnessed mischievous attempts by a section of the media to generate negative propaganda around these operations in the North East. Most recently, a video report by Al-Jazeera yesterday titled “Civilians among dead in Nigeria offensive” (May 31) sought to put the government and the people of Nigeria in bad light. This is regrettable. While we welcome an open interrogation of government’s activities, we reject any attempt to exploit the security situation in the North East to malign, discredit or otherwise undermine the country’s efforts by other surreptitious means. There can be no doubt that the Al Jazeera report of May 31 is in very bad taste.

Two quick points will highlight the concerns here: (1) the video is that of the unfortunate incident that occurred in Bama on May 7 and has no connection with the current operation. If anything, the victims shown in the video were those the Boko Haram attacked before they launched an offensive on the Bama prison (2) the claim that the man in uniform shown in the video is a Nigerian soldier cannot be sustained, because in a war-like theater as we have on our hands, anybody could have been clad in a military fatigue; and we have seen Boko Haram members appear in military fatigues in their propaganda videos. Besides, no soldier has left the frontlines since the beginning of the operations. Surely, this type of reporting on a serious national security issue is irresponsible and should be deplored by all.

We reaffirm the Government of Nigeria’s commitment to and belief in the professionalism of the Nigerian Military, an institution that has served with distinction on many occasions across the region and outside. We deplore the effort to encourage terrorists through unverified and inaccurate reporting, and the desperation to blackmail the current peace and security process.