December deadline: Another trip to Maiduguri

It was neither a vacation trip nor a tour for seasonal ceremony. It was a journey to attend a crisis communication seminar for humanitarian workers and journalists covering disasters which was held in Maiduguri in the first week of December 2015. My family members could not dissuade me from the trip that hopefully would provide me another opportunity to assess one of the Boko Haram worst-hit cities in Nigeria.

The flight was smooth from Abuja to Maiduguri. Driving into the town, it was easy to observe that the city wasn’t bubbling as most roads were deserted, exotic mansions abandoned and fine hotels had low patronage even with their generous discounts on accommodation.

On a visit to the Internally Displaced Persons, IDPs, camps, the sights of orphans and widows were quite disturbing even though NEMA and other stakeholders are taking good care of them.

Passing through security check-points, the sacrifice of Nigerian troops, especially young soldiers in their zeal and determination to defeat Boko Haram terrorists, was obvious from their faces. While some of them are bachelors with parents, others are married with children they left at home to defend Nigeria.

Incidentally, almost everyone was concerned about the Presidential directive for the military to end Boko Haram this December. During the inauguration of his service chiefs on July 13, 2015, President Muhammadu Buhari directed the military to end the Boko Haram terrorism in three months.

Immediately after the directive, the National Security Adviser, NSA, Major General Babagana Monguno led service and security chiefs to the frontline to seek the cooperation of community leaders, traditional rulers and pressure groups to support the new drive against war on terror. He also visited and commiserated with IDPs and reassured them that the war would soon be over.

The Chief of Army Staff, General Tukur Buratai has not led from the back, he was in the warfront by actively participating in some of the operations where terrorists were either captured or killed. He has so far spent most of his time on the battle field. The Chief of Air Staff, Air Mashall Sadique Abubakar has personally commanded fighter jets in the war on terror to motivate fighter-pilots into putting in their best.

The Chief of Defence Staff, General Gabriel Olonisakin, has ensured effective coordination and cohesion in the operation so far through mechanism of inter-agency collaboration, even as the Chief Naval Staff, Rear Admiral Ibok-Ete Ekwe Ibas has also confirmed that Special Forces from the Navy are actively involved in the operation.

The military has so far destroyed dozens of Boko Haram camps and freed more than 1,000 kidnap victims since inauguration of President Buhari. Nevertheless, there is the fear that the military may not be able to end Boko Haram by the deadline. The Executive Secretary of Centre for Crisis Communication, CCC, Air Commodore Anas recently disclosed that there is nothing wrong in imposing targets on the military but due to the asymmetric warfare which Boko Haram is prosecuting against civilian “soft targets” the December deadline is unrealistic.

There are also worrisome reports of fresh kidnap of dozens of girls and burning of buildings in Bam Village of Yobe State; reported missing and fleeing soldiers in Galtumari town in Borno State; destruction of military base in Gulak, Adamawa and media allegations that terrorists snatched military trucks, artillery guns that were bought by the previous administration.

During private conversations with stakeholders, many expressed beliefs that concerted efforts are required through credible intelligence to address the insecurity in the North-East.

Beyond ‘body languages’ theory and political grandstanding, others were of the opinion that some tougher actions taken by the past administration could be deployed in curtailing the excesses of terrorists. For instance, a journalist observed that even though many doubted the sincerity of the former National Security Adviser, Sambo Dasuki, when he sought and obtained approval for postponement of 2015 general election to enable the military to degrade Boko Haram and ensure maximum security of voters, all known terrorists’ camps were destroyed before the emergence of new government on May 29; Sambisa Forest was stormed by “Special ‘M’ forces” and about 300 kidnapped women and children were freed; 22 terrorist occupied towns in three states were recovered; and Boko Haram could not disrupt the elections.

It is public knowledge that some of the towns recovered from terrorists during the administration of Goodluck Jonathan include Abadam, Askira, Baga, Bama, Biu, Damboa, Gwoza, Hong, Konduga, Kukawa, Marte, Madagali, Michika, Monguno, Mubi, and others. In fact an official statement by the Defence Headquarters on March 16, 2015, with reference no: DHQ/ABJ/901/32/DDI announced the routing of terrorists from Bama after massive casualty was inflicted on the terrorists before the remnant fled. The statement further stated that the Chadian partners in the MNJTF were mandated to pursue the terrorists who were heading for the borders after being dislodged from Bama. Gujba, Gulani, Goniri, Buni Yadi were all retaken by Nigerian troops within the month, the statement concluded. It seems Nigerians have forgotten all these.

By Yushau A. Shuaib



No New Equipment Was Issued To Our Soldiers To Fight Boko Haram, Former GOC Tells Military Court

No new equipment was ever issued to the Multinational Joint Task Force (MNJTF) to prosecute the war against Boko Haram militants, a prosecution witness has stated at the ongoing court-martial of Brig Gen EA Ransome-Kuti, a former commander of the MNJTF. Nigerian troops on patrol near Maiduguri

This testimony starkly contradicts the assertion of the former Chief of Army Staff Kenneth Minimah that brand new equipment was purchased and issued to the MNJTF.

Brigadier General Kuti was in charge of Baga, in Borno State, when Boko Haram overran the army headquarters in December 2014. International organizations estimated that over 3, 000 died in the incident, but Defense Headquarters posted a much lower figure of 150.

Making the stunning statement at the Special Court Martial, which is taking place at the Army Headquarters Garrison in Abuja, was Major Gen MY Ibrahim, former General Officer Commanding the 7th Division of the army.

Major General Ibrahim caused a further stir when he declared that throughout his tenure as the GOC, he did not once visit Baga.

General Ibrahim further testified that the three MBLT Battle Tanks issued to the force had mechanical and electrical faults, while the artillery guns lacked critical accessories.

It was further revealed during the trial that the MNJTF lacked adequate fighting vehicles and support weapons. Most of the battle tanks in Baga were issued in 1998 at the commencement of the operation, and were therefore in very poor condition. The tanks were therefore not useful and could not effectively be used to repel the attack by the insurgents on the 3rd of January 2015.

Despite Army Headquarters directives that there should be mutual support in the North East operation by all members of the Nigerian Army, members of the Court Martial were dumbfounded when documentary evidence was tendered to show that the former GOC intentionally refused to task any military unit to support the MNJTF when it came under that attack.

Prior to this development, the Investigating Police Officer had informed the court that he was restricted in his investigation while the second prosecution witness, Captain E E Emmanuel, testified that MNJTF fighting equipment was unserviceable and that the troops were thus overwhelmed by the insurgents who fought with superior fire power and in strength.

Meanwhile, the Committee set up by the Chief of Army Staff to screen officers and soldiers in Jaji has concluded its sitting without screening all the army officers who turned up for the exercise. The committee made up of Maj Gen A Oyebade, Col I Buhari, Col O N Taiwo, Col T S Nurseman, Lt Col E O Ugwu, Lt Col M E Elom and Lt Col U Ukpe, directed the officers to return to their location and continue with their trials.

Although the trial has not commenced, our investigations have revealed that Col I Buhari participated in the investigations that led to the trial of most of the officers while Col T S Nurseman, Lt Col EO Ugwu and Lt Col U Ukpe who are presently serving as Director Legal Services in HQ 81 Div, HQ 1 Div and AHQ Gar respectively, gave the legal advice that led to the convening and trial of the officers affected by the court martial. Of equal significance, they are participating as either the Prosecutor or Judge Advocate in the court martial.

The Special Court Martial is expected to resume sitting tomorrow for the defence counsels Femi Falana and Rtd Maj O A Oyebanji to open their case. Notice has been given in court that the military authorities should make the former Chief of Defence Staff, former Chief of Army Staff and Maj Gen JAH Ewansiha available as witnesses in view of the testimony of General Ibrahim that new equipment was never issued to the MNJTF.



Why I Will Not Shed A Tear For Dasuki – Dr. Ango

In reaction to a cowardly Sambo Dasuki claim, as the former NSA cracked so easily under minute pressure, saying:

“I gave my best to this transition which led to the victory of the opposition over the ruling Party”.

Dr. Ango Abdullahi said:

Of course you did sir. You were even captured on video in Sokoto with a group of improvised marabouts praying for the success of the deadly PDP. Nigerians were sure those prayers were for the success of the opposition not the ruling Party which covert operations you were alleged to have supervised and financed from the NSA’s office while playing acrobatics with the defence budget.

It’s obvious Oga Sambo didn’t know that his nocturnal visitations to traditional rulers – part of his efforts “to give his best to the transition that led to the victory of the opposition” was captured and reported to the public in real-time, sometimes complete with amounts of his “drops” which were mostly rejected even by “Dogarawa”. Someday, somebody may trigger his memory to recollect what happened in Gwandu and Sokoto when he went calling. For now, let’s concentrate on what should constitute his today’s worries.

Perhaps, not being so privileged and blue blooded like Sambo, if I’m in his shoes I will be worried with details of multi-trillion Naira budgetary spending in 3 years under his watchful eyes with nothing to show but a significant chunk of Nigeria conceded to a ragtag army of untrained militia. I will be more worried with the circumstances that left Nigeria with dysfunctional, visibly pregnant and embarrassingly ineffective army chiefs who seemed more at home supervising multi-billion Naira private estates in Abuja than supervising troops in Maiduguri and Damaturu.

Dasuki claimed he was “fair” to all even when he had security cause to act on inflammatory comments about the government of the day (GEJ’s government). I wish he wasn’t. I wish he deployed the powers of his office to react to the “inflammatory comments” about GEJ’s government – comments he seem so shy to tell the public even when doing so could cheaply earn him public sympathy. Perhaps, then I will feel no restriction asking him why he remained aloof about thugs like Asari Dokubo and con artists like Pastor Oritsejafor. We may even ask him why he was silent when Marilyn Oga was busy reducing the DSS into an arm of the PDP he “worked against” to give the opposition victory over the ruling Party.

With minimum knowledge of the law of Karma, Dasuki should have licked his wounds in silence considering the fact that he remained stone silent when the same DSS was persecuting members of the opposition he “silently worked to give victory” like Malam Nasir El-Rufai. We are not talking about new laws for the DSS. Just talking about a DSS with a new purposeful leadership with visible intent to restore the lost respectability of a bastardized government institution.

Ok, we heard the operatives invaded and ransacked his residences, something that broke the heart of his ailing father who is in a London hospital. I believe that story was cooked up to gain sympathy. Still, I don’t expect a retired Colonel even of a ragtag army to be so womanly no matter how desperate the situation, the least of all Sambo Dasuki who was part of the team that went and arrested President Buhari after he was toppled in 1985. I’m sure Dasuki was privy to subsequent invasions of PMB’s residences that caused unforgivable lost of valuables including certificates – part of which was used to unleash a shameless campaign against PMB’s educational qualification only recently without Dasuki raising a finger to put the records straight because he was busy trying to shift the original date of an election the PDP was obviously going to lose.

By the way, did somebody tell Dasuki PMB didn’t have a mother back then whose heart was broken by the travails of her son? Sambo may never know the pain of being locked-up and refused a visit to an ailing mother and subsequent denial of attending her funeral. Haba! Somebody should be a man and save us the “heart melting” tears of a male adult who is sleeping on a bed he made with his hands to suit his comfort. If I’m Daduki, I will use the opportunity to review the chapters I missed in the book of life especially, the most important chapter dealing with the law of karma.

The Nation