Insurgency: North East Governors Back Call To Engage Mercenaries

Members of the North East Governors Forum pay a condolence visit to Borno State Governor, Babagana Zulum, on December 1, 2020.

 

The North East governors have backed the call on the Federal Government to engage mercenaries in the fight against insurgents in the region.

Taraba State Governor, Darius Ishaku, stated this on Tuesday on behalf of his colleagues during a visit to Borno State to condole with the government and the people over the recent killing of farmers in the state.

According to him, the governors are in support of the recommendations made by Borno State Governor, Babagana Zulum, on how to win the war against Boko Haram and Islamic State’s West Africa Province (ISWAP) insurgents terrorising the region.

“Our dear brother, we are here to condole you over the killing of farmers by Boko Haram insurgents; we are indeed saddened and traumatised,” Governor Ishaku said.

He added, “I will key into your request, which you said that the Federal Government should invite some mercenaries to come and help us out of this problem because what you cannot do, what you cannot solve, I think we should invite who can solve it for us.”

READ ALSO: Senate Calls For Removal Of Service Chiefs Following Insurgent Attack On Farmers

The visit was in the wake of Boko Haram’s beheading of 43 farmers from Zabarmari community who were attacked on Saturday last week at Koshobe, a village in Mafa Local Government Area of Borno.

Apart from engaging mercenaries, Governor Zulum proposed the immediate recruitment of youths into the military to boost its strength, as well as the provision of mine resistance armoured personnel carriers and other equipment for the military, police, and other security agencies involved in the insurgency fight.

Borno State Governor Babagana Zulum with counterparts from Taraba and Gombe States, Darius Ishaku and Inuwa Yahaya, at the Government House in Maiduguri on December 1, 2020.

 

During Tuesday’s visit, Governor Ishaku said, “We cannot continuously be mourning, there has to be a time to stop the mourning.

“All of us in the North East Governors Forum, we are pleading with the Federal Government to find a solution to the issue of Boko Haram.”

The Taraba governor also appealed to the Federal Government to look into the infrastructural deficit in the region and give it the needed attention.

According to him, it is embarrassing that the North East has an allocation of 0.35 per cent in the nation’s budget despite the problems of insurgency and others in the region.

“This is very unfair; I will once again call on the Federal Government that the issue of Mambila hydropower project should be looked at as matter of urgency.

“Without this power, we will not indeed have any meaningful development,” Governor Ishaku Stated.

Governor Zulum, in his response, extended his appreciation to the delegation for the visit.

Other governors on the visit included Ahmadu Fitiri of Adamawa, Bala Mohammed from Bauchi, and Inuwa Yahaya of Gombe State.

Army Redeploys 55 Soldiers From Battlefield After Five Years

New Salary Scale Has Not Been Approved For Armed Forces – DHQ
A file photo of soldiers.

 

Troops of the 192 Battalion of the Nigerian Army have been relieved from the battlefield after serving in the Operation Lafiya Dole for several years.

Some of the combatants who heaved a sigh of relief on Monday following their redeployment from the battlefield had fought the counter-insurgency war in the North East for at least five years.

A mini de-induction ceremony was held in their honour at the Headquarters of the 7 Division in Maimalari Barracks in Maiduguri, the Borno State capital.

In his remarks, the Acting General Officer Commanding 7 Division, Brigadier General Abdul-Khalifa Ibrahim, commended the soldiers for their outstanding performance.

He urged them to remain disciplined as they leave the war zone to reunite with their respective families and other members of the public.

According to Brigadier General Ibrahim, the battalion will be de-inducted further at the Nigerian Army School of Infantry Jaji, Kaduna State.

He, therefore, encouraged them to go on courses to improve their professionalism and chances of promotion in the service.

“When you go back, the way you will interact with the civil populace is different from what you have been doing fighting Boko Haram,” the GOC told the soldiers.

He added, “You must take into consideration attributes that we expect a soldier to have – discipline, integrity, respect for others, courage, and the rest.

“We don’t want you to go and start fighting people and say you have come from the North East.”

One of the major achievements recorded by troops of the 192 Battalion was their participation in the liberation of Gwoza, a town in southern Borno, five years ago.

Although it is not clear how many of them were originally posted to the North East, a total of 55 soldiers were debriefed.

Governors, Others Identify Three Insurgents’ Strongholds In North East

A file photo of Borno State Governor, Professor Babagana Zulum. Photo: [email protected]

 

Three flashpoints have been identified as the strongholds of the Boko Haram insurgents in the North East, following a week-long engagement with the service chiefs and other stakeholders in the region.

The areas are Lake Chad fringes, Sambisa Forest, and the Mandara mountains – all located in Borno State.

The engagement which took place on the instance of President Muhammadu Buhari also had the north-east governors in attendance.

“The President has assured the people of Borno State and indeed the north-eastern subregion that he will do everything possible within his reach to ensure that lives and property of people living in Borno State are secured,” Governor Babagan Zulum told reporters in Maiduguri, the state capital shortly after his arrival from Abuja on Sunday.

He added, “We have discussed, especially the issue of strengthening security in the fringes of the Lake Chad and Mandara mountains, as well as in the Sambisa Forest and I think my meeting with the Chief of Air Staff, as well as Chief of Naval Staff and also General (Tukur) Buratai is very promising.”

The governor said Buratai, who is the Chief of Army Staff, promised to look into the issue of clearing the enclaves of the insurgency in the three flashpoints identified.

He was confident that with the renewed commitment of the President and service chiefs, peace would reign again in Borno.

President Muhammadu Buhari at a meeting with the north-east governors and others in Abuja on August 10, 2020.

 

Zulum, who is also the Chairman of the North-East Governors’ Forum, had led his colleagues to the Presidential Villa in the nation’s capital and continued engagements with the service chiefs throughout the week.

While at the Villa, the governors identified some of the root causes of the insurgency raving the region and stressed the need for the Nigerian government to address them

They were of the opinion that the insurgents were taking advantage of endemic poverty and hunger among other challenges in the region to recruit more members into their fold.

The governors said the people need to go back to their farmlands and resettle in their original homes so that they can revive their means of livelihood.

They also recommended that police should be provided with state-of-the-art equipment and armoured personnel carriers, with a view to bridging the manpower gap in the military.

On his part, President Buhari gave strong assurances that security would be restored to Borno State, the North East, and the nation at large.

He also informed the governors that things would improve very soon as the government was acquiring modern equipment to fight insurgencies in the region.

Buhari In Closed-Door Meeting With North-East Governors, Service Chiefs

President Muhammadu Buhari met with North-East Governors and security chiefs on August 10, 2020.
President Muhammadu Buhari met with North-East Governors and security chiefs on August 10, 2020.

 

President Muhammadu Buhari on Monday met with Governors from the six North-East states behind closed doors.

According to a Channels Television Correspondent, all service chiefs and the Inspector-General of Police were in attendance.

During the meeting, President Muhammadu Buhari urged the Nigerian army to do better in the war against insurgency in the North-East.

According to the president, his administration ran on three key principles: security, the economy, and fighting corruption.

He said security is the ultimate job of government and that based on the level of insecurity his government inherited, the people of the North-East will appreciate what his government has done so far.

President Buhari also congratulated Borno State Governor, Babagana Zulum, on his emergence as Chairman of the North-East Governors Forum, noting that the security challenges facing Borno are always on his mind.

After the meeting, Zulum addressed newsmen.

He said the government must address the remote causes of insurgency in the North-East, which include widespread poverty, illiteracy, and access to farmlands.

According to him, this is why Boko Haram has been successful in recruiting more members into its fold.

Governor Zulum declined to repeat his allegations of sabotage in the military when asked about the recent attack on his convoy.

The military is doing all it can to combat the insurgents, he said, stressing that they need more equipment to be successful in this endeavour.

Equip the military

The meeting with President Buhari held after the Governors, on Saturday, elected Borno State Governor, Babagana Zulum, as Chairman of the region’s Governors Forum.

In the communique released after its Saturday meeting, the North-East Governors commended the Federal Government for its efforts in keeping the region safe.

However, it asked the military to “intensify efforts to secure hard-to-reach areas in the region and ensure safe access to farm-lands.”

President Muhammadu Buhari met with North-East Governors and security chiefs on August 10, 2020.
The President has asked the military to do more in protecting the country.

 

The Governors requested the deployment of state-of-the-art military hardware to the region and increased arming of police officers to make up for “manpower deficit in the Nigerian Armed Forces.”

The police, they said, should be allowed to “carry state-of-the-art weapons where necessary and be provided with strategic equipment like high-velocity tear gas, trackers and Armoured Personnel Carriers (APC).”

Intelligence Not More Arms

In an appearance on Channels Television’s breakfast show, Sunrise Daily, criminologist Professor Etannibi Alemikha on Monday faulted the Governor’s calls for increased arming of the region.

“From the military or security point of view, what is required is actually not weapons, it is intelligence,” he said.

“I would have expected that they will ask indeed that there is the need for the deployment or greater capacity of intelligence-gathering through the various media.

“You could have the highest weapons; you will still be taken unawares. I think what is largely missing in the North-East situation has been intelligence.”

The professor also disagreed with the idea of handing sophisticated weapons to the police.

“An average policeman encountered on the street should not be carrying AK-47,” he said. “It is not a question of trust, but one of philosophy. The philosophy behind the police is that they are part of the people and therefore they should not use force that is extraordinary.”

 

UN Suspends Air Operations In North East Over Helicopter Attack

A file photo of UN Humanitarian Coordinator in Nigeria, Edward Kallon.

 

 

The United Nations Humanitarian Coordinator in Nigeria, Edward Kallon has suspended the operations of the UN Humanitarian Air Service (UNHAS).

This followed an attack that caused damage to an aid helicopter on Thursday in Damasak, a town in Borno State.

The attack was said to have been repelled by military forces who inflicted heavy injury on the insurgents who retreated and started shooting sporadically, resulting in the death of three civilians, including a minor.

In a statement on Saturday, Kallon revealed that a UN Humanitarian Air Service helicopter caught up in the crossfire was hit by bullets, causing serious damage.

He said, “I am gravely concerned about reports of another violent attack by non-state armed groups in Damasak, Borno State, on 2 July, in which at least two innocent civilians lost their lives, including a five-year-old child.

“Several others were injured, and a humanitarian helicopter was hit, sustaining serious damage.”

Although the UN representative noted that there was no aid worker aboard the helicopter, he called on the Nigerian Government to investigate the attack and swiftly bring the perpetrators to justice.

According to him, the attack and damage to the helicopter severely affect the ability of aid actors to provide urgently needed assistance to vulnerable people in remote areas across Borno State.

“The UN Humanitarian Air Service is essential to evacuate wounded civilians and remains the backbone to facilitating humanitarian access, thereby enabling UN agencies and non-governmental organisations to safely and securely reach the most vulnerable populations.

“In 2019, UNHAS transported 66,271 passengers and 147 megatons of humanitarian assistance, as well as conducted 30 medical and 70 security evacuations,” Kallon added.

He condemned the attacks against civilians, humanitarian assets, and aid workers, thereby calling on all armed parties to respect the international humanitarian law and international human rights law.

The UN official also urged the parties to allow and facilitate safe and unimpeded access for humanitarians to deliver life-saving assistance to the most vulnerable people in the North East.

According to him, 7.8 million people in the crisis-affected states of Borno, Adamawa, and Yobe States, mostly living in remote areas need humanitarian aid.

Kallon explained that in recognition of Thursday’s incident and consultation with some humanitarian organisations, it became necessary to pause UNHAS rotary operations in the region.

He stated that this was to allow the UN to engage government partners and conduct new risk assessments for each helicopter location to ensure that they have taken all the possible mitigation measures.

“The pause will be for an initial period of one week, at which time we will review the situation.

“During this period, life-saving medical and security evacuations will be considered on a case-by-case basis with the authorisation of the Humanitarian Coordinator/Resident Coordinator/Designated Official in consultation with the WFP Country Director,” he said in a leaked memo.

UN Decries Increase In Checkpoints Manned By Non-State Armed Groups

A file photo of UN Humanitarian Coordinator in Nigeria, Mr Edward Kallon. Photo: [email protected]

 

 

The United Nations is worried about the activities of Boko Haram insurgents at various checkpoints in the North-East.

With the recent trend, UN Humanitarian Coordinator in Nigeria, Mr Edward Kallon, believes the people in the region and aid workers there are more exposed to attacks by the terrorists.

“I am extremely worried by the increasingly insecure environment that humanitarians are working in to provide urgent and vital assistance to civilians affected by the crisis,” he said in a statement on Thursday.

Kallon added, “The humanitarian community is troubled by the increasing trend in vehicular checkpoints set up by non-state armed groups along main supply routes in the states of Borno and Yobe.

“These checkpoints expose civilians and humanitarians to heightened risks of being killed or abducted.”

Boko Haram: 27,000 Civilians Killed In Three States – UN

 

The UN envoy also decried the spate of attacks on aid workers providing support to victims of insurgency in the region.

He disclosed that a total of 12 humanitarian workers were killed last year, stressing that the figure doubled the number recorded in 2018.

Kallon blamed the killings on the environment in which aid workers carry out their duties, insisting that the level of insecurity in the region has been on the rise.

He, therefore, called on the Nigerian Government and all relevant agencies to protect the residents and aid workers from “grave violations” of international laws.

Aid workers and the assistance they provide to the most vulnerable populations, according to him, make the difference between life and death for entire communities in crisis-affected Borno, Adamawa and Yobe States.

DHQ Denies Reports Of Detaining Children As Terrorists In Facilities

boko haram

 

The Defence Headquarters has denied reports that troops of the Armed Forces of Nigeria are arbitrarily detaining children in its facilities in the North East.

The DHQ in a statement by it’s Acting Director Defence Information, Colonel Onyema Nwachukwu said that children used as suicide bombers by terrorists are arrested, managed and treated as victims of war and not as suspects.

This is a reaction to a report by the Human Rights Watch, accusing the Armed Forces of Nigeria arbitrarily detaining children. The DHQ added that the apprehended children are adequately fed, profiled and de-radicalized before their release, as captured by the civil society group in its report.

“It is an established fact that Boko Haram Terrorists (BHTs) indoctrinate women and children who they use as suicide bombers in the theatre of operations. In the conduct of their operations, troops arrest these children while attempting to detonate explosives and provide tacit support to insurgents such as intelligence on troops’ movement and deployments.

“Contrary to HRW claims, however, the AFN manages children in the North East theatre as victims of war and not as suspects. Apprehended children are kept in secured places, where they are adequately fed, profiled and de-radicalized before their release.”

READ ALSO: Xenophobic Attacks: Buhari Orders Immediate Voluntary Evacuation Of Nigerians From South Africa

The statement added that only profiled Boko Haram and ISWAP terrorists are held in detention pending their prosecution by appropriate prosecuting agencies.

It also stated that another set of children are the ones found with some adult female Boko Haram terrorists arrested in terrorists’ enclaves during combat, and in such cases, the women opt to keep their children rather than hand them over to relations.

“While the female terrorists are kept in the detention facility, their children are given protected care in a welfare holding facility, not a detention facility, where they could be accessed by their mothers under supervision by female personnel. The children are provided with regular feeding, clothing, requisite medical attention, in-house spiritual and educational tutoring and other welfare needs.

“The DHQ, therefore, wishes to state that no children are kept and tortured in any detention facility. The children caught in the act of terrorism are moved to safe facilities such as the Borno State Rehabilitation Centre in Bulunkutu, Maiduguri, and Operation SAFE CORRIDOR, where they are de-radicalized, rehabilitated and reintegrated into the society. Those whose families could not be traced are handed over to IDP Camps officials for administration.”

The DHQ also maintained that terrorists and insurgents killed in combat cannot be regarded as extrajudicial killing.

“The AFN is a professional military with extant doctrines and Standard Operating procedures, hence, extrajudicial killing or summary execution is an aberration and not permissible in our operational engagements.”

UN Commemorates 10 Years Of North East Insurgency With Virtual Reality Experience

PHOTOS: Sodiq Adelakun/Channels TV/ July 31, 2019.

 

The United Nations on Wednesday launched a virtual reality experience called ‘Holding On’ to tell the stories of those who have been displaced by the Boko Haram insurgency which is now in its 10th year.

The exhibition which is open to the public is billed to last from August 1 to 15, 2019, and is also in commemoration of the World Humanitarian Day which comes up on August 19.

Attendees get to watch 360 videos that would give them a feel of the deplorable conditions that the internally displaced persons face in Nigeria.

Speaking at the event, the Governor of Yobe State, Mai Mala Buini, called for more assistance as the states in the northeast begin the process of reconstruction as well as rehabilitation of over 1.8 million persons displaced by the Book Haram insurgency.

Army Speaks About Recent Attacks On Military Bases In North East

Army Speaks About Recent Attacks On Military Bases In North East
A file photo of troops. Source: [email protected]

 

The Nigerian Army has reacted to the reports of recent attacks by Boko Haram insurgents on some communities and military bases in the north-eastern part of the country.

The General Officer Commanding 7 Division of the Army, Brigadier General Abdulmalik Bulama, responded during an exclusive interview with Channels Television on Wednesday.

Brigadier General Bulama, who did not deny the attacks, described them as mere publicity stunts of the insurgents to stay relevant by attacking targets to keep them in the news.

READ ALSO: President Buhari Receives Ghanas Akufo-Addo In Abuja

He, however, insisted that the military was winning the war against the terrorists, despite attacks targeted at soft targets and the military.

Brigadier General Abdulmalik Bulama

 

According to the GOC, this is evident by the reclaimed territories and offensive against the insurgents by the military in the last four years.

He said, The war against terrorism is not a war that you can clinically finish within a given minute or a week or a day; so it is that understanding that will tell you.

But like I always say, you need to weigh it against where we were especially from 2015 till today.

The pre-2015, virtually every part of Borno State was under the hold of the Boko Haram but today, can we say it is so? Bulama questioned.

Brigadier General Bulama also dismissed reports of dislodgement of military bases as fake news, propaganda and an exaggeration of the reality on the ground.

He spoke to Channels Television in Dikwa during a visit to the 22 Brigade where troops were hosted to a Sallah get together by the Chief of Army Staff, Lieutenant General Tukur Buratai.

Buratai was represented at the event by the Head of Logistics of the Army Headquarters, Major General Enobong Okon.

In the last 72 hours, there had been reports of insurgents attacking local communities and two military bases at Delwa in Damboa Local Government Area (LGA), and another in Marte LGA of Borno State.

Insurgency War: Chief Of Air Staff Charges Troops To Be Vigilant

NAF Rejects Allegation Of Bombing Wrong Settlements In Zamfara, Explains Operations
A file photo of Chief of Air Staff, Air Marshal Sadique Abubakar/ [email protected]

 

The Chief of Air Staff, Air Marshall Sadique Abubakar, has cautioned troops to vigilant at all times and not to be caught taken unaware.

The Air Boss was represented by the Chief of Policy and Plans, Air Vice Marshall Emmanuel Anebi, during a visit to troops of the Task Force fighting insurgency in the North East on Sunday.

“I wish to remind all of us that we are still at the frontline and we should not lose sight of the fact that we could come under attack at any time. I am not saying this to ruin the mood of the celebrations but to underscore the need to continue to maintain our vigilance at all times.”

READ ALSO: Banditry: Yari Commends NAF For Air Strikes In Zamfara

He reminded the troops of the responsibility of the military in ensuring the indivisibility of the country. As such they must not allow themselves to be taken unawares but must remain alert at all times, be undaunted and committed to the war against insurgency.

“I, therefore, enjoin you all not to rest on your oars, let us all continue to be vigilant while we celebrate and ensure we maintain the highest level of combat readiness to guarantee security during the holiday period and beyond.”

Boko Haram: Multinational Force Records Successes With ‘Operation Yancin Tafki’

 

The Multinational Joint Task Force, (MNJTF), operating in the Lake Chad region, has claimed that the leadership of the terrorist group, Boko Haram, is overwhelmed and in disarray owing to its ongoing ‘Operation Yancin Tafki’ in the North East.

The Chief of Military Public Information, MNJTF, Colonel Timothy Antigha, said the troops, made up of forces of the Lake Chad Basin countries — Chad, Cameroon, Niger and Nigeria — have been embarking on a series of well-coordinated day and night missions conducted by the Air Forces.

“As an aftermath of sustained air and land operations of the ongoing Operation Yancin Tafki, information from captured and defected Boko Haram fighters indicates that the leadership of Boko Haram terror network has been overwhelmed and are currently in disarray.”

He added that the operation has destroyed several Boko Haram logistic facilities and fighters.

“In the last 4 weeks of the Operation, about 70 Boko Haram vehicles; mostly gun trucks, facilities such as fuel dumps, weapons and ammunition have been destroyed, leading to successful and devastating air interdictions which have destroyed Boko Haram logistic facilities and fighters in Tumbum Gini, Abadam, Arege, Tumbun Rego and Dagaya environs between 7 and 11 March 2019.”

According to Col. Antigha, quoting reliable sources, internal crisis led to change of Boko Haram leadership on March 3, 2019, prompting the Islamic State West Africa Province announcing the sack of the former Boko Haram break-away leader, Abu Mus’ab Al Barnawi and the appointment of Abu Abdullahi Ibn Umar Al Barnawi, as leader of the ISWAP affiliate group.

“The frequent execution of Boko Haram commanders and fighters which have been observed in the past few months as well as the recent replacement of its leadership are clear indications of the effectiveness of recent past and ongoing Operation Yacin Tafki,” Col Antigha added.

See more photos below:

Atiku, Wife Cast Their Votes In Adamawa

PDP Presidential candidate of the Peoples Democratic Party, Atiku Abubakar and his wife Titilayo Atiku-Abubakar vote at Agiya polling station in Yola, Adamawa State. Luis TATO / AFP

 

Presidential candidate of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), Atiku Abubakar, has voted in the Presidential and National Assembly elections.

The former vice president and his wife were accredited at 10:01 and he voted a few minutes later.

After voting, the PDP candidate said he is impressed with the turnout of voters.