A security expert, Group Captain Sadeeq Shehu (Retired), has cautioned religious leaders against making inciting comments on the killings in parts of the country.
He sounded this warning on Wednesday during an appearance on Sunrise Daily, a breakfast show aired on Channels Television.
“To religious leaders whom people look up to, mind what you say in public concerning this crisis,” he said.
Shehu’s comments come less than a month after suspected herdsmen attacked Xlands, Gindin Akwati, Ruku, Nhgar, Kura Falls and Kakuruk in Gashish district, Barkin Ladi Local Government Area of Plateau State.
During the attack, 86 people were reportedly killed, six people were injured while at least 50 houses, two vehicles and 15 motorcycles were burnt.
Despite the attacks, the security expert believes that inciting comments from political, community and religious leaders could heat up the polity.
He added, “In all honesty, I find it completely irresponsible to say that the government is implicit or that the military is implicit in the killings.
“Moreover, when these claims are made, urgent credible proofs are not adduced. If you are looking for a solution, it is not just to come on the radio or television without providing concrete proof.”
On the way forward in resolving the rift between farmers and herdsmen, Shehu is optimistic that the availability of ranches would be a way out.
This is even as he claimed that the current administration inherited the idea of ranching colony from former President Goodluck Jonathan’s government.
A Security Consultant, Group Captain Sadeeq Shehu (Retired) has blamed the controversy trailing the purchase of helicopters on inadequate information by the Federal Government.
Shehu stated this while speaking as a guest on a breakfast programme, Sunrise Daily aired on Channels Television.
“I think the Federal Government did not do enough in terms of communicating (to Nigerians) what and what it is buying,” he said on Wednesday. “Given the whole package we have been privy to see what the American government is offering to Nigeria, you could account for the difference.”
There has been an uproar over reported plans by the President Muhammadu Buhari administration to purchase a Tucano military aircraft from the United States at the cost of $462 million to fight the insurgency.
President Buhari had earlier written to the National Assembly informing the lawmakers of his decision to acquire the equipment to boost fight against the insurgency.
But the move seemed not to have gone down well with some lawmakers, who questioned why such a huge amount would be spent.
While the letter was read on the floor of the House of Representatives on Tuesday, some lawmakers described the payment by the executive of over 400 million dollars for 12 Tucano fighter aircraft without the approval of the National Assembly as unconstitutional and impeachable.
Shehu, however, appeared to be satisfied with the amount being an expert in the military, coupled with his wealth of experience.
He added, “The cost of a Tucano is $9 million to $14 million a unit. Nigeria is buying for $496 million. If you do a simple arithmetic, it means we are buying for about 40 billion.
“What Nigeria is buying and what countries normally buy depending on the technological base is to buy the aircraft together with the training of pilots, engineers, communication experts, you buy spares that can last five to 10 years, infrastructures, hangers, many rounds of ammunition, missiles, guns etc.”
With the military aircraft underway, Nigerians expect to see a drastic improvement in the nation’s security challenges to allay the fears in the minds of people.
A Security Consultant has given his views on reasons why the military is yet to tackle the Boko Haram Insurgent in Nigeria’s north-east region.
Speaking on Channels Television’s Sunrise Daily on Wednesday, Mr Richard Amuwa, said that the problem Nigeria has been battling with, for over six years, is politics.
“There is no way you can mix politics with security,” he said.
Answering a question on whether Nigerians has responded properly to solving the problem of insurgency, the Security Consultant said “we have not been able to respond because this kind of insurgency is not fought with ordinary people.”
While talking about the impacts of the 10,000 police officers President Muhammadu Buhari planned to recruit, Mr Amuwa said that the 10,000 is like a drop in the ocean.
“How can 350,000 police officers protect over 170 million Nigerians.”
President Buhari, on August 17, 2015, said that the Federal Government is emplacing appropriate framework that would facilitate the employment of an extra 10, 000 Police officers.
The President also said that government is to establish properly trained and equipped federal anti- terrorism, multi-agency task force that would effectively address the challenges of Boko Haram and any form of insurgency in a sustainable manner.
The Security Consultant, however, gave suggestions on how the police could immensely contribute in tackling the Boko Haram insurgency.
“Officers must undergo training, the government should improve the Public Relation sector of the police and the government should leverage on public/private partnership with the police,” he added.
Security Expert, Capt. Umar Aliyu (Rtd) believes that the recent successes being recorded by the Nigerian military in their fight against terrorism is due to the “new blood” that has been injected into the system.
“I am seeing what I can call participative kind of approach to leading troops which should be the case. I am seeing things being done differently. Let us underscore that with probably the ‘change fever’ in the air.
“I am seeing troop commanders who actually bond with their men by not running their battle by proxy. They take time to go there, to feel the ground, to occupy their battle space and that itself has been driven by the relocation of the command centre to Maiduguri,” he said.
Capt. Aliyu, who had been an advocate of the Command Centre relocation long before President Muhammadu Buhari gave the directive, maintained that just as he had expected, the move has aided the fight against Boko Haram.
“Its psychological, its human, it happens everyday even in our families. If you showed up in your son’s school for his competition and he was running, something is going to change about the way he’ll run that day.
“We are not saying that the Chief will perpetually sit there but when you’re actually there, more often than not, you’re going to begin to see, feel and hear first hand.”
The retired Army officer also acknowledged positive changes in the tactics being deployed by the military, noting that each time the troops recapture a new ground and hoist the Nigerian flag instead of the black flag of the insurgents, its emboldens the Nigerian soldiers and dis-emboldens the insurgents.
“We celebrate our successes (and) we are consistent about it even though its been slow.
“Then if you do post-General Buratai appointment, you will discover that in like 63 days, so much has been done and if we can ‘exponentiate’ 63 days and compare it to like three years – if every 63 days we can do this much, then by December the sun should have set on the insurgents.”
He, however, added that with the insurgents having also changed their tactics to mainly suicide bombings, this must be “complemented by three key parastatals”.
“The military cannot actually fit in as smugly into this issue of suicide bombing as it does into combat engagement in the northeast.
“The SSS or the DSS, the Civil Defence and the Police have key roles to play in driving the successes of eliminating suicide bombing attacks because suicide bombing itself exploits the gaps in our policing strategies.”
A Security Expert in Nigeria, Ladi Thompson, says that the Federal Government’s strategies in tackling Boko Haram insurgency in the nation’s north-east region have improved.
Speaking on Channels Television on Saturday, Mr Thompson observed that the military’s approach in fighting terrorism had improved from a professional point of view, pointing out that the development had caused confusion in the camp of the terrorists.
“Strategically speaking, if you understand and you watch what is going on, you will find out that the Boko Haram has had to alter its strategy.
“The reason it has to alter its strategy is because, finally, the Nigerian government has begun to get things right,” Thompson said.
He stressed further that the military had reduced the onslaught against the insurgents toward the end of the last dispensation, but had improved tactics in the present administration.
“Towards the end of the last dispensation, what they were doing was that they had reduced the strategy to a war affliction. When these ones came in, you can easily see that some professionalism had been restored to the military and as a result of that, the morale was better.
“They have been able to check the activities of the moles who have been demoralising the army from within and the consent that the Boko Haram has gotten a lot more desperate,” the security expert noted.
Thompson further pointed out that the media report about the onslaught had not been upgraded to capture the fact that lot of progress had been made, attributing it to the challenge that is presently being faced by Nigeria.
“From a professional point of view, government strategy has improved, but the media report on part of the war has not yet caught up with the improvements that this government has brought,” Thompson said.
The Nigerian military has sent a reconnaissance and advance team to Maiduguri, Borno State for the establishment of the Military Command and Control Centre (MCCC) for ‘Operation Zaman Lafiya’.
This is in compliance with the Presidential pronouncement and the Chief of Army Staff’s directive for the fight against terrorism and insurgency.
The Director, Army Public Relations, Colonel Sanni Usman, said, “The team, which is led by a 2-Star General, has already commenced work in earnest and it is comprised of elements of the Office of the Chief of Army Staff, all the relevant Army Headquarters Departments and other combat support components.”
The Centre, according to Col. Usman, will serve as a forward command base for the Chief of Army Staff and other Service Chiefs.
He added that the Military Command Centre is essentially an elaboration of an already existing Army Headquarters Command and Control arrangement which will monitor, coordinate and control the fight against terrorism and insurgency would be coordinated and controlled from this centre.
He said that the MCCC would not create another layer of command structure but would add renewed vigour to the ‘Operation Zaman Lafiya’.
He also said that an alternate command centre is also being established in Yola.
Borno State has been on the receiving end from Boko Haram attacks but there are high hopes of a turn of events as the Command Centre relocates to Maiduguri.
The Nigerian President announced the planned relocation of the Command Centre to Borno State during his inauguration on Friday, May 29 and Nigerians have continued to comment on the directive given by President Muhammadu Buhari.
The former Minister of Education and leader of the Bring Back Our Girls campaign organisation, Mrs Oby Ezekwesili says Nigerians should just wait to see how that speech will be translated into action.
Mrs Ezekwesili, who spoke to Channels Television in Abuja, described the speech as inspiring as it is loaded with action, one of the attributes of a good speech.
She, however, noted that translating the speech into positive results is what would determine if it was indeed a great speech, starting with the rescue of the Chibok girls.
A security expert, Capt. Aliyu Umar, is also one of those who believe that the decision to move the Command Centre to Maiduguri was a good one.
He said that the relocation would give the military the edge to fight the militants, recalling several instances where similar decisions had yielded positive results.
Capt. Umar said that the Nigerian Army might not have had a high number of soldiers running away from battle if their commanders had been around.
The retired Nigerian Army officer also frowned at times in the past when military chiefs have had to stay back in Abuja waiting to be told what was happening in the North-east, highlighting the constant breakdown of communications as a major set back in Nigeria’s fight against insurgency.
Vulnerable And Attractive Target
Another Security Consultant, Dr Onah Ekhomu, however, believes that moving the military command centre to Maiduguri may not yield the desired results in the long run, because of the transformation of Boko Haram’s tactics into pure terror.
He said that the decision would make the command centre a vulnerable and attractive target for the insurgents, recalling the spirited attacks that the insurgents have launched on the Giwa Barracks in Maiduguri in the past.
According to him, it takes one IED to destroy an entire facility.
Dr. Ekhomu also stated that effectively combating the group’s terror would require more of intelligence assets, more planning and a strategic assessment of Boko Haram’s capabilities.
A command centre is any place that is used to provide centralised command for some purpose.
It is sometimes considered to be a military facility, but the centre enables an organisation to function as designed, to perform day to day operations regardless of what is happening around it, in a manner in which no one realises it is there.
The command cenrtre is a source of leadership and guidance.
A security consultant, Olatunbosun Abolarinwa, has said that in any situation where terrorism takes the centre stage, further negotiation is key to resolving it.
He said that there could not be an immediate ceasefire in Nigeria’s north-east because the situation had been lingering for a long tim. He, therefore, advised Nigerians to be patient because the ceasefire would not be immediate.
“There can’t be magic in the ceasefire agreement because the situation has been on for a long time. A lot of countries are experiencing security challenges.”
He also advised the media to work with the government, to avoid spreading news that are not verified, “the fact that Boko Haram says the Chibok girls will be on a particular day does not necessarily translate that they will be released that day”.
Speaking as a guest on Channels Television’s breakfast programme, Sunrise Daily on Tuesday, Mr Abolarinwa explained that the agreement would take a while before it’s implemented because the sect needed to communicate and agree with their members internationally and locally. “It is very easy to destroy but building it back will take time.”
He suggested that the government should set up a robust analyst group.
“The Federal Government needs to bring in experts that will translate every word that Boko Haram says to have a clear understanding before announcement is made publicly.”
He applauded the Chief of Defense Staff for being able to consolidate the information given out to Nigerians so as “not to look irresponsible”.
On the part of the media, he insisted that there has to be a meeting and insisted that they have to exercise patience in publishing stories in order to give out the right information.
Security Expert, Captain Umar Aliyu (Rtd), believes that the Military may be right to say that Nigeria’s territorial integrity was still intact but believes that there were indicators that it is threatened.
This is in reaction to the Nigerian Army’s response to a 52-minute video purportedly released by the Boko Haram sect, declaring an Islamic caliphate in Gwoza, Borno State.
Speaking on the Monday edition of Channels Television’s breakfast programme, ‘Sunrise Daily’, Aliyu noted that there were both technical and fundamental indicators on ground that shows that the Nigerian Military had challenges handling the security situation.
He said that the goings on in the Army in recent times have shown that the sect must have been emboldened to take the step they took, making reference to issues like soldiers’ alleged mutiny, protests by soldiers’ wives, as well as complaints of lack of motivation and equipment to match the terrorists.
“From my side of the table as an observer I think time will confer or un-confer the truth of that statement or that position. But if we want to play it safe, I will want to assume that given the indicators that the adversaries have gleaned off, the goings in the Army in the last six to nine weeks, its not unlikely that they’ve been emboldened to take that step and make that declaration whether for truth or for fallacy.”
He added that Nigeria has not been focused about the State of Emergency it declared in the states affected by insurgency, as “somebody should be in charge” but this hasn’t been so.
He stated particularly that the issues within the Army had become one that needed to be addressed at a time when the soldiers were still complaining to their authorities. He warned that a situation where they stop complaining would make the situation worse.
Sophisticated weapons were on display in the video released by the sect and there have been questions about the possibility of military equipment being among those used by the Boko Haram sect. Aliyu said that the sect could have looted the military facilities they have attacked in the past.
He, however, also revealed there are black markets for arms all over the West African region and the sect could have acquired them or looted different locations to get the sophisticated weapons on display in their latest video.
“We have an Army that is more physical than mental” Aliyu said, adding that the insurgency in the country was an opportunity for Nigeria to improve on its military tactics but unfortunately the Army was still doing things the old way.
“We are just doing, we are not thinking”, he said.
He wondered why questions were not being asked about the reason why the sect was bent on taking over Gwoza. He recalled that the sect had successfully eliminated the Emir of Gwoza and activities that followed showed that there had been a plan.
“From the account of the average man who lives there (Gwoza) the presence of the insurgents is louder than that of the military troops” Aliyu said this based on his personal research on the web, checking the social media spaces of persons who are residents of Gwoza.
The military capacity to carry out thorough investigation also came to the fore, and Capt. Aliyu maintained that the reason why the Nigerian Army seemed incapable of this was that the personnel lacked the enabling environment to replicate some of the laudable performances they record when on international duties and trainings.
“We tend to look at the physical soldier, what about the psychological soldier?” Aliyu asked.
“The zombies Fela sang about is long extinct, today’s soldiers are people of these times, not Fela’s times when he sang Zombie.
“The Army is a community with its own values and culture and its also a subset of the larger Nigerian community.
“When you go recruiting to bring in soldiers, you are going to bring the majority of your recruits from the Nigerian youths who share the same social, mental fads. You’ll be getting the ‘Dorobuchi’ generation and the ‘Skelewu’ guys to come and become soldiers.
“Now, you cannot just get a soldier to follow you to battle just because you said so, he has to believe in you.”
He stressed that the Army needs to “step out of the stereotype” and do things differently.
He also said that there was need to develop a culture whereby monies spent on the military are accounted for. While admitting that this does not mean that details of all military procurements should be made public, he insisted that they should be bench marked and taken responsibility for, as regards what has been achieved with them.
While maintaining his earlier stance, aligning with the military statement that the Boko Haram claims could be untrue, he said that he expects to see a robust military action which would indicate that things were not being taken for granted.
Capt. Aliyu believes that the alleged take-over of Gwoza, which is a border town, means that Cameroon would also have started giving focus to their side of the region too.
He, however, also stated that this was not a totally military issue, but an opportunity for the Customs, Civil Defence Corps and other agencies to upgrade their operations to be able to address the situation.
He referred to the setting up of the Civilian JTF as one that would make him cry, as it only indicates the inability of the Nigerian military to handle the security challenges in the country.
The security situation in Nigeria, especially in Adamawa, Borno and Yobe states came to the fore on the Sunday July 13 edition of Rubbin’ Minds on Channels Television.
The three states have been under a State of Emergency for over a year having been extended by the Nigerian Government. However, something many do not know is that Nigeria has been rated to have the highest number of internally displaced persons (IDP) in Africa with a figure of 3.3million.
A report by the Internal Displaced Monitoring Centre (IDMC) and the Norwegian Refugee Council (NRC), “Global Overview 2014: people internally displaced by conflict and violence,” stated that the number of internally displaced persons in Nigeria is approximately a third of the IDPs in Africa and 10 per cent of IDPs in the world.
In 2013 alone, 470,500 persons were displaced in Nigeria and this is the third highest in the world, behind Syria with 6.5 million and Colombia with 5.7 million.
The Executive Director, Action to Yield Aid for Hopeful Adults and the Young (AYAHAY), Mariam Augie, and a Security Expert, Nnamdi Anekwe, were on the programme to discuss issues surrounding this and efforts at offering support.
Ms Augie noted that the issue of displaced persons was very new to Nigerians because reports have always mainly focused on attacks and the number of deaths but not the people suffering from the aftermath of such violence.
She noted that while there were 3.3 million Nigerians directly affected by the insurgency, another 9 million were indirectly affected, a situation which called for the efforts of everyone to help those affected and shift attention to those who survived the attacks, as Government agencies alone cannot handle it.
Speaking about the current efforts being made to cater to the refugee victims of the insurgency in Nigeria, she stated that the notable help coming for the displaced persons has been in form of the accommodating nature of Nigerians with communities helping to provide shelter as there were no camps created but noted that there is a limit to how far this would help.
Mr Anekwe, also added that some individuals and leaders in Adamawa State have been setting up initiatives to come to the aid of the displaced persons. He, however, advised that it was important for camps and alternative accommodations to be provided.
Although Ms Augie shared the view that host communities may have been so far preferred over camps by authorities because of security reasons, she agreed with Anekwe and warned that if the situation got worse, the country would have no choice.
“From eating 3 square meals a day to one square meal a day, 500 people to one toilet, no water, sanitation, health facilities are almost obsolete, so we know that it’s a really terrible situation”, she said, as she decried the living conditions of victims of insurgency in the affected region.
Mr Anekwe also spoke about the implications of having such number of displaced persons on the country. He highlighted the level of sophistication of the insurgents and noted that fighting them should not be left alone to the Government.
Both guests also warned against allowing the bombings and other attacks to continue with children growing up with the idea of violence on their minds, as this would be more detrimental to the future of the country.
Ms Augie also provided an insight into the activities of her organisation, which is made up of individuals who fearlessly came together to design a plan on how to help the victims of insurgency in North-East Nigeria.
She explained that they started out by contacting agencies like the Red Cross and the National Emergency Management Agency (NEMA) to know what their needs were, as the mission of the AYAHAY was to complement Government efforts and the international organisations that were already helping out, as they also believed that the international community should not be left to fight Nigerians’ battles.
“From mattresses to mosquito nets to grains, insecticides, female kits and anything within your reach, anything it is that you can give, we will appreciate it”, she said.
A Security Expert, Captain Aliyu Umar (Rtd), on Saturday said that old military tactics which had secured victory for the Nigerian Army in past missions would not successfully stamp out the Boko Haram insurgency as a fisherman’s net cannot be used to catch mosquitoes.
Umar, who was a guest on Sunrise, decried the many excuses which had trailed the recent attacks of the Boko Haram insurgency in different States, maintaining that the “political, cultural, religious perspectives analysts as well as the government had given to the insurgency were excuses. “We are gradually becoming a nation of excuses,” he said.
According to him, the security agencies would need a level of imagination to defeat the terrorists, insisting that there was no doubt of the capability of the security agencies to handle the insurgency. However, stereotypes and doctrines which gave Army success in other parts of Africa cannot be applied to the situation in Nigeria. “Security agencies have to do it outside of the box” because the insurgents are loony and the security agencies have to think like them.
“We have to customise our security strategies” he said, adding that the notion that terrorism was about religion must be discarded.
“Can we begin to see the simple thing here; Terrorism has no religion. It tries to use religion to do some image laundering,” Aliyu said noting that the insurgents were seeking to get empathy of adherents of the religion who were misinformed.
He further called on leaders of the security agencies to discard their egos and think outside the box as “the solution will be a cocktail of solutions,” so the security chiefs should open their doors and allow a free flow of ideas.
The insurgents, who are said to be camped in the Sambisa forest close to the border community in Borno, abducted over 200 school girls in Chibok town over two weeks ago. Security agents have been reluctant to invade the forest for fear of endangering the girls and other hostages who have become shields to the terrorists.
Captain Umar, who had studied the Sambisa forest closely, said that the forest would have a source of water feeding it which the insurgents get their supply from as they cannot steal water during their attacks on villages. “The agencies should find the waterline feeding the forest and it will lead them to the camps of the insurgents.”
On his part, Conflict Resolution Consultant, Reverend Ladi Thompson, was of the opinion that the Nigerian State is yet to define what the problem is. He further described the sect as multifaceted machinery that cloaks itself with religion.
He also supported Umar’s submission that the military was using old tactics which had been successful but are yet to yield results because it had taken the nation a long time to realise that “Nigeria is at war” with insurgents who used a mixture of guerrilla tactics and fear.
He surmised that President Goodluck Jonathan must put in place a machinery to stamp out fear as well as, demonstrate that the life of every citizen is much more important than political ambitions.
According to him, if a bridge is not built to link all political parties together in the war against terrorism, the elections the politicians are scampering for may not hold.
He further advocated a robust relationship between law enforcement agencies and the media which will keep the populace informed on progress made. Thompson however noted that “we may be dealing with a compromised security service in Nigeria”.
He submitted that the media, finance and think tank arms of the sect must be neutralised to conquer the group.
On the call for international support, he warned that “the intelligences behind many nations would not mind Nigeria becoming the next Afghanistan, so even in seeking help externally; We have to do with understanding (and a lot of wisdom).”
A Security Analyst, Ona Ekhomu, says that efforts need to be put in place in the fight against terrorism because “some leaders in the Northern part of the country have come to realize that Boko Haram is a grave threat to the nation” and previously the leaders of the north didn’t know that it was a big challenge to the society.
Painting a scenario, he said that the issue is “like using a wrong drug to treat a particular illness or defining the wrong problem entirely” and policy makers have a misinterpretation of the happenings in the north and said until these issues are identified the insurgency will remain.
On Channels Television Saturday breakfast programme, Sunrise, another security expert, Patrick Keku said that the northern leaders have identified their mistakes and stated that if all join hands together, the Boko Haram issue will be a past thing.
Mr. Ekhomu noted that these terrorists don’t go into hiding when they want to attack, and explains how they can be curbed.
On logistics, Mr. Ekhomu stated that if the government can put 60-70 vehicles full of armed soldiers on the road during an attack , it will curtail attacks by the insurgents.
He also explained that there should be checks in bushes and on high ways, stating that where there is more concentration on the high way, these insurgents could make their way into the bush and hide.
Both security experts advised that our security should be “re-architectured” for better performance.