Deploying Soldiers Not The Answer, Buhari Should Address Nigerians – Afe Babalola

How Military Rule Affected Judiciary In Nigeria – Afe Babalola
A file photo of legal icon, Afe Babalola.

 

Legal icon and Senior Advocate of Nigeria (SAN), Afe Babalola, has called on President Muhammadu Buhari to address Nigerians.

He made the call on Wednesday in reaction to the recent happenings across the country following the recent #EndSARS protests.

“Protests against the Special Anti-Robbery Squad, otherwise known as SARS or FSARS, have spread to all parts of Nigeria and beyond.

“The deployment of soldiers to the streets is not the answer. The imposition of curfews is certainly not the answer,” Babalola said in a statement.

He added, “I remember that as soon as the protests began, I had issued a press release in a similar vein on the issue appealing to the President to please address the issue at that time.

“I now again plead with him to address the root causes of the pain which the youths are complaining about.”

Youths in various parts of the country have embarked on peaceful protests in the last two weeks to demand an end to police brutality.

While the demonstrations have enjoyed the support of many political, traditional, and religious leaders, some of the protests were hijacked by thugs.

However, it was a black Tuesday on October 20, 2020, when soldiers opened fire on unarmed protesters in the Lekki toll gate axis of Lagos State.

This led to the death of some protesters while at least 28 others were injured, triggering condemnation from well-meaning Nigerians and members of the international community.

“The use of live bullets and other lethal weapons against protesting youths is not the answer. The killing of protesting youths is also not the answer.

“A protest both in fact and in law is analogous to a message which an injured toe sends to the brain complaining about unbearable pain,” said Babalola in his reaction to the shooting of the protesters.

He added, “The response by the brain and the head is normally to take steps to treat the pain to the toe.

“Any injured person who refuses to take steps to treat pains to any part of the body does so at his own peril.”

The legal icon described the President as the head of the nation, stressing that the youths were parts of the body – the nation.

He, therefore, urged President Buhari as the head to address the youths and offer remedial steps to be taken to alleviate their pains.

Reveal Soldiers Who Shot At Lekki #EndSARS Protesters, NBA Tells Military

A combination of photos from the scene of the Lekki #EndSARS protest on October 20, 2020.

 

The Nigerian Bar Association (NBA) has condemned the shooting of #EndSARS protesters by soldiers in the Lekki area of Lagos State.

NBA President, Olumide Akpata, faulted the incident in a statement personally signed by him on Tuesday hours after the incident.

A team of armed security personnel had stormed the Lekki toll gate – where a series of protests had held peacefully – and fired live bullets at a crowd of youths there.

“The Military High command is hereby requested to immediately identify and name the officers involved in this gross professional misconduct for immediate prosecution and dismissal in line with extant laws,” Akpata said.

He added, “The NBA shall immediately commence legal proceedings at all relevant fora – both locally and internationally – against the Nigerian Military and other relevant authorities, on behalf of the families of the victims, for abuse of power, disregard of rules of engagement and the infringement of the fundamental rights (including the right to life) of the affected citizens.”

Akpata explained that given the degenerating nature of the crisis, an emergency meeting of the National Executive Committee of the NBA would be convened within the next 48 hours.

According to him, the meeting is to review the state of the nation and take other appropriate steps to decisively deal with the situation and prevent Nigeria from further going adrift.

The NBA president described the shooting as an act of recklessness and lawlessness by the security apparatus of the government.

He stressed that based on reports available to the lawyers, it appeared to have been a carefully calculated and premeditated attack.

Akpata argued that even if the Lekki #EndSARS protesters were in breach of the curfew imposed by the Lagos State government, such a misdemeanour did not warrant the use of live ammunition by the military to confront peaceful, unarmed and defenceless protesters.

He stated that Tuesday’s events should never be seen or considered as normal in any democracy in any country.

“The NBA believes that the current situation in the country calls for dynamic leadership and, as critical stakeholders in the Nigerian project, invites the President of Nigeria and others in authority to show uncommon leadership in saving the situation, instead of deploying troops against defenceless citizens whom they swore an oath to protect,” the NBA president said.

#EndSARS Protesters Defy Security Operatives, Continue Demonstrations In Abuja

#EndSARS protesters continue with their demonstrations despite the presence of soldiers in Abuja on October 19, 2020. Sodiq Adelakun/Channels TV

 

 

#EndSARS protesters on Monday defied the presence of security operatives in Abuja, the nation’s capital.

The demonstrators carrying the national flag converged on the Aya roundabout in continuation of the protests that have entered its 12th day.

See photos of scenes of planned Abuja #EndSARS protest blocked by security agents…

 

 

Three Soldiers Killed In Shootout With Bandits

A file photo of some ammunition recovered from suspects on July 29, 2020.

 

Three soldiers have paid the supreme price when a team of security operatives engaged armed bandits in Niger State.

The Coordinator of Defence Media Operations, Major General John Enenche, confirmed this a state statement on Monday.

He explained that the incident occurred as troops of Operation Whirl Punch continued the aggressive clearance operation to rid criminal elements out of the north-central region of the country.

Enenche insisted that the soldiers have recorded tremendous success against armed bandits in the region.

He stated that following credible intelligence on the activities of bandits at Tashan Kare in Niger, troops swiftly mobilised to the scene and made contact with the criminals.

According to him, the armed bandits were engaged with superior firepower by troops, leading to the death of an unspecified number of bandits while others fled in disarray into the bushes.

Apart from the three soldiers who were killed during the gunfight, two others were wounded in action.

“Exploitation is ongoing. The Military High Command congratulates the gallant troops for their professionalism and encourages them to intensify the onslaught against the enemies of our country,” the statement said.

Troops Kill 20 Insurgents In Borno

A file photo of soldiers on a military truck.

 

 

Troops of 130 Battalion have killed at least 20 members of the Boko Haram sect and Islamic State’s West Africa Province (ISWAP) in a fierce encounter at the north-western part of Baga town in Borno State.

The Coordinator of Defence Media Operations, Major General John Enenche, confirmed the number of terrorists killed in a statement on Sunday.

He noted the troops conducted the decisive intercept offensive operation with the support of the Nigerian Army Super Camp in Baga.

Enenche explained that the insurgents who were armed with mortars, rocket-propelled grenades, and small weapons were on their way to attack villages surrounding Baga before the gunfight took place.

“The troops attacked their convoy with overwhelming firepower, killing 20 BHT/ISWAP criminals, captured six AK 47 rifles, 520 rounds of 7.62mm special ammunition, and five 36 hand grenades.

“However, nine of our gallant soldiers were wounded in action with no loss of life. They were evacuated to Sector 3 hospital for treatment,” he stated.

According to the military spokesman, the Chief of Army Staff commends the soldiers for their professionalism and directs them to remain resolute towards eradicating the criminals from the North East.

Boko Haram Kills 47 Soldiers In Borno – Military

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

 

 

The Defence Headquarters (DHQ) has confirmed the killing of at least 47 soldiers by members of the Boko Haram terrorist group in Borno State.

The Director of Defence Information, Major General John Enenche, disclosed this during a session with reporters on Tuesday in Abuja.

Giving an update on the military operations across the country, he noted that Nigeria was in a fluid conflict situation while the troops were at the frontlines.

Enenche explained that troops of Operation Lafiya Dole were on clearance and fighting patrol operation to Gorgi in Borno between March 21 and 23.

“During consolidation, they (the troops) were ambushed by elements of Boko Haram terrorists. Sadly, we suffered some casualties in the unfortunate attack,” he said.

The DHQ spokesman, however, revealed that the Air Component of Operation Lafiya Dole scrambled immediately to the scene and provided close air support to the ground troops.

He added that the Intelligence Surveillance and Reconnaissance (ISR) platform, as well as the fighter jets engaged the insurgents, killing some of the terrorists and immobilising a gun truck belonging to them.

“Some others (terrorists) who attempted to withdraw were also mopped up by the jets in follow-on attacks.

“The Defence Headquarters commiserate with the families of our fallen gallant heroes who paid the supreme price in the course of defending our fatherland,” Enenche said.

He assured Nigerians that the military and other security agencies would continue to sustain the offensive against the enemies of the nation.

The military spokesman added that this would be done in furtherance of the objective of restoring peace and security in the North East and other parts of the country.

Contrary to the figures stated by the DHQ, reports say at least 70 soldiers were killed in the ambush on the security operatives’ convoy.

The insurgents reportedly fired rocket-propelled grenades at a lorry conveying the troops as it travelled near Gorgi village on Monday.

Rep Members Demand Redeployment Of Soldiers In North-East

A file photo of lawmakers during plenary at the House of Representatives chamber in Abuja.

 

 

Some members of the House of Representatives have demanded the resignation of the service chiefs.

This followed a debate on the nation’s security during Wednesday’s plenary at the lower chamber of the National Assembly in Abuja.

Assessing their performances, the lawmakers called for the resignation of the service chiefs since President Muhammadu Buhari has refused to sack them.

In his remarks, one of the lawmakers, Abubakar Fulata, sought the redeployment of soldiers serving in the North-East.

He noted that the military personnel have stayed too long at the war front and were exhausted, stressing that they should be replaced to improve the onslaught against insurgents in the region.

Thereafter, Speaker of the House, Femi Gbajabiamila, put the question, as moved by Fulata, to the lawmakers whether the service chiefs should resign and leave their offices.

Although there was a divide among the members in their response, a majority of the lawmakers answered in the affirmative and the resolution was passed.

VIDEO: Angry Borno Governor Slams Soldiers, Policemen For ‘Extorting’ Travellers

Borno State Governor, Babagana Zulum, speaks during a visit to the Maiduguri-Damaturu Expressway on January 6, 2020.

 

 

Borno State Governor, Babagana Zulum, has accused personnel of the military and the police of extorting travellers on the Maiduguri-Damaturu Expressway.

Governor Zulum made the allegation on Monday during a visit to the highway in the north-eastern region of the country.

He made the visit amid reports that security officials manning the highway locked it down, leaving travellers on the road stranded.

The security operatives were said to be collecting bribes of N1000 from travellers who do not have national identity cards.

In his reaction, Governor Zulum who was visibly angry faulted the action of the soldiers and policemen.

He also threatened to report the security operatives, stressing that the alleged extortion of innocent civilians was unacceptable.

“I am reporting everybody on this road. You people are collecting N1,000; no human being can accept this,” the governor said.

He wondered how the security personnel could do such a thing at a time and a region where the security of lives and properties should be a priority.

Governor Zulum said, “Boko Haram (terrorists) are attacking people and again, Nigerian military and soldiers and the police are receiving N1,000 fine to frustrate people. Nobody can accept this one.”

Watch the video below:

14 Soldiers Killed In Ambush In Western Niger

A soldier stands guard at sunset as France’s President and Niger’s President Mahamadou Issoufou (unseen) take part in a military ceremony at the Martyr Quarter on December 22, 2019, in Niamey, to pay homage to 71 Nigerien soldiers massacred in an attack on December 10 at the Inates military camp in the Sahel country’s western Tillaberi region. Ludovic MARIN / POOL / AFP

 

Fourteen soldiers have been killed after “heavily-armed terrorists” ambushed a convoy in the western Niger region of Tillaberi.

“After a fierce battle… seven police and seven national guards were killed” Wednesday, the interior ministry said in a statement on Thursday.

“A guard has been listed as missing,” the ministry said, adding, “the enemy suffered many losses.” It did not give details.

The security forces had been escorting a team to carry out voter registration in the district of Sanam ahead of presidential and legislative elections due in late 2020, it added.

The team was “secured and returned to Sanam safe and sound,” the statement said.

Niger, a poor, landlocked country in the heart of the Sahel, is on the front line of a jihadist insurgency.

Its troops are fighting Boko Haram militants on the southeast border with Nigeria and jihadists allied with the Islamic State group in the west near Mali.

On December 10, 71 soldiers were killed in Tillaberi when hundreds of jihadists attacked a military camp with shelling and mortars.

It was the worst single toll since jihadist violence spread from Mali in 2015.

Niger is part of a five-nation anti-jihadist task force known as the G5, set up in 2014 with Burkina Faso, Mali, Mauritania and Chad.

Burkina Faso on Thursday was observing its second day of mourning after a wave of jihadist attacks in the north of the country left 42 dead, also its worst one-day casualties since 2015.

Viral Video Of Soldiers’ Execution Is Fake, Says Army

13 Soldiers, Police Officer Killed In Boko Haram Ambush
File photo

 

The Nigerian Army has described a purported viral video in which some men held hostage in an open field were executed as false.

In a statement on Thursday, the acting Director of Army Public Relations, Colonel Sagir Musa, stressed that the video was doctored.

He said, “The attention of the Nigerian Army has been drawn to a viral, unsubstantiated and apparently fabricated video clip circulating on the social media portraying the stage-managed/so-called capture and killing of some Nigerian soldiers by Boko Haram terrorists on the 10th of December 2019.

“The Nigerian Army wishes to emphatically state that there was no incident that involved the ‘capture and killing of tens and tens of Nigerian soldiers on the 10th of December 2019’ as mischievously and wickedly portrayed in the video.”

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Although, Preliminary observation of the clip, according to Musa, revealed that it was doctored and that the entire event captured in the footage was not an occurrence that took place at any point in time within the shores of the country.

“To this end, the Nigerian Army is hereby calling on the members of the general public and indeed personnel of the Nigerian Army, especially those in the North East theatre of operation to disregard the sinister,” he added.

The army spokesman who insisted that the video was inciting and divisive, attributed its origin to the outlawed indigenous People of Biafra (IPOB) group.

He condemned the call by one Simon Ekpa who he purported to be the principal actor in the clip that soldiers of the South East extraction presently serving in the North East should desert the army and return to Biafra.

According to him, the call on the people of the South East not to join the Nigerian Army is an obvious indication of the essence and objective of the masterminds of the video which should be discountenanced by the public.

Colonel Musa insisted that army remains committed to sustaining the war against terrorism and would not be deterred by any propagandist activity.

Black Boxes From Crashed Helicopters Found In Mali

French Defence Minister Florence Parly (C) walks with France’s chief of the Defence staff general Francois Lecointre (2ndL) as they arrive to take part in a tribute ceremony for the 13 French soldiers who died when two French military helicopters collided in Mali, two days ago are displayed prior to a tribute ceremony, on November 27, 2019, in Gao.
SIRPA / AFP

 

The black boxes from two French military helicopters that collided in Mali killing 13 soldiers have been found, a French military spokesman said Wednesday.

The crash occurred late Monday during an operation against jihadists in the Liptako region, near the borders with Burkina Faso and Niger. It was the heaviest single loss for the French military in nearly four decades.

“The two black boxes from the helicopters have been recovered, they will be handed over to the relevant authorities to be analysed,” the spokesman, Colonel Frederic Barbry, told BFMTV.

Three helicopters and a squadron of Mirage jets had arrived on Monday to support ground troops pursuing Islamist extremists.

Shortly after troops engaged the insurgents, who fled on motorbikes and in a pickup truck, a Tiger attack helicopter collided with a Cougar military transport helicopter.

All 13 aboard the two aircraft were killed.

French Defence Minister Florence Parly arrived along with top military brass at the Barkhane base in Gao on Wednesday afternoon to pay homage to the dead soldiers ahead of their repatriation to France.

The chief of staff of the French armed forces, General Francois Lecointre, and the army chief of staff, Thierry Burkhard, accompanied Parly on the trip.

Parly will address the soldiers at the base to convey “the nation’s sadness, recognition and determination”, the defence ministry said in a statement.

The minister was greeted by Barkhane Force commander General Pascal Facon and her Malian counterpart, General Dahirou Dembele.

The soldiers’ bodies will be repatriated to France where President Emmanuel Macron will lead commemorations at Invalides military hospital and museum in Paris on Monday.

Barbry said no theory as to the cause of the crash had been ruled out.

The conditions for flying at the time of the crash were “extremely difficult” because it was a moonless night, the spokesman said.

The accident brought to 41 the number of French troops killed in the Sahel region since Paris intervened against jihadists in northern Mali in 2013.

Since then, armed groups affiliated with the Islamic State group, Al-Qaeda and others have advanced into southern Mali as well as into neighbouring Burkina Faso and Niger.

No ‘definitive’ victory possible

Lecointre warned earlier Wednesday against expecting total victory over insurgents roaming an area the size of Western Europe.

“We will never achieve a definitive victory,” he told France Inter radio, while insisting that France’s intervention was “useful, good and necessary”.

“We are producing results but we must be patient and persevere,” he said, adding that a lasting solution to the unrest in the region required “military action but also action on the development front.”

France has 4,500 troops deployed under Operation Barkhane to help local forces hunt jihadists in Burkina Faso, Chad, Mali, Mauritania and Niger.

It had been hoping that a joint counter-terrorism force set up by the five African countries would gradually take over the operations.

But the G5 Sahel force has been hamstrung by a lack of manpower, funds, training and weaponry.

The UN peacekeeping mission in Mali MINUSMA and regional armies, meanwhile, have also suffered heavy losses in the unrest.

In some of the deadliest incidents, 43 Malian soldiers were killed in an attack in the east of the country in mid-November while Burkina Faso lost 24 troops in an assault on a base near the Malian border in August.

Despite the challenges and the growing hostility towards French troops in Mali and Burkina Faso, both former colonies, Macron’s government is adamant it has no plans to scale back operations.

France has presented the battle against the jihadists operating on Europe’s doorstep as a battle for the security both of Africa and Europe.

Former president Francois Hollande, who took the decision to intervene in Mali in 2013, on Wednesday said he stood by his decision.

“If there had not been the operation which I launched on January 11, 2013, all of Mali would have been occupied by Islamist terrorists, and not just Mali. All of West Africa would have be destabilised,” he said.

24 Soldiers, 17 Insurgents Killed In Clashes In Eastern Mali

A file photo of Malian soldiers. AFP photo.

 

 

Twenty-four Malian soldiers and 17 jihadists fighters were killed in clashes in the east of the country, the army said, as security in the West African nation deteriorates further.

Mali and Niger forces were carrying out a joint operation when a patrol was attacked Monday by “terrorists” near the northeastern town of Tabankort, the army said on social media.

According to the military, the total toll was “24 dead, 29 injured and material damage” while 17 of the jihadists were killed and a hundred more suspects captured.

The prisoners are in the hands of Niger soldiers, the statement said.

In an earlier statement, which gave a lower death toll, the army said French and Niger forces took part in a counterattack.

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Monday’s action was another heavy loss for the army, which lost a hundred soldiers in two jihadist attacks in a month in the autumn.

Northern Mali fell into the hands of jihadists in 2012 before the militants were forced out by a French-led military intervention.

Since then, however, the border regions of Mali, Niger and Burkina Faso have become the theatre of repeated clashes with jihadist fighters.

Mali’s army has been struggling to contain the Islamist insurgency despite help from African neighbours, MINUSMA, the 13,000-strong UN peacekeeping mission in Mali, and former colonial power in the region France.

French Prime Minister Edouard Philippe in a visit to neighbouring Senegal on Monday called on all west African states to help tackle jihadist groups operating in the Sahel.

“One thing is certain: jihadist groups will benefit, as soon as they can, from our weaknesses, from our lack of coordination or from our lack of commitment or training,” said Philippe, at the opening of the Dakar International Forum on Peace and Security.

French President Emmanuel Macron has pledged to take decisions “in the coming weeks” on how France can help tackle jihadist violence in the Sahel.

He said progress had been made “on the security situation” and decisions would be announced on revamping the G5 regional cooperation force in Mali, Burkina Faso and Niger.

France earlier this month also announced their troops had killed a top jihadist leader in Mali, described by the defence ministry as the second most-wanted terrorist in the Sahel.

Moroccan Ali Maychou belonged to the Group to Support Islam and Muslims (GSIM) in Mali, which has claimed responsibility for some of the biggest attacks in the Sahel.

AFP