- Police’s Contradiction on the Casualty figures in Yobe’s Tragedy.
- How Security Chiefs Struggle to Justify Wasted Billions On Security.
- Inside Story of Politics of Boko Haram Debacle In The Presidency.
- Why FG Spurned Yobe Government After Attack.
The well-coordinated siege of the capital of rural Yobe State, Damaturu, penultimate week by the dreaded members of the Boko Haram sect at a time the chief security officer of the state, Governor Ibrahim Gaidam, and some of his family members were enjoying themselves in the popular and expensive Darul Tawhid Intercontinental Hotel in Mecca and which happens to be the governor’s fifth visit to the Saudi kingdom in less than three months, has raised serious concern about the ability, professional and technical competence of the Nigerian security agencies to contain the threat to national security and human lives being posed by the members of the audacious sect.
The sophistication of the group and the number of deaths and injuries at the end of the operation that lasted about three hours without the intervention of the Police largely because they are ill- equipped and ill-prepared for such emergency despite the provision of billions of naira to the Nigeria Police Force and the office of the National Security Adviser, resulted in disgraceful scenes showing police officers running for their dear lives and in most instances particularly those officers that sought refuge at the General Hospital Damaturu removing their uniforms in a desperate move to escape the attack of the Boko Haram militants; this has left no one in doubt about the failure of President Goodluck Ebele Jonathan and his security team to contain the uprising despite much noises, assurances and approval of billions of naira to fight the Boko Haram insurgency.
The apparent confusion and contradictory claims among the security chiefs after the Damaturu attack, lack of sincerity and lack of clear policy direction on how best to confront the crisis by the government of Mr. Jonathan, has shown the magnitude of the challenges facing Nigeria under his uninspiring presidency.
This is coupled with the decision to adopt the failed United States approach to fighting terrorism particularly in Afghanistan where the US itself acknowledged it has woefully failed after ten years of sustained war that consumes thousands of innocent lives and trillions of dollars with growing number of extremism and radicalism as a result of the US aggression, style and approach.
Indeed there have been desperate but futile attempts by the NSA, General Andrew Azazi (rtd), Inspector General of Police Hafiz Ringim or the Yobe State Police Command and the State Security Service (SSS) through its spokesperson Marilyn Ogar to under-declare the casualty figures and the magnitude and sophistication of the attack in Damaturu as well as the failure of the security agencies to confront the attackers at the time of the operation.
While Human Rights Watch (HRW), Amnesty International, Associated Press (AP) and several other credible local and international media outfits and agencies put the death toll of the Boko Haram attacks in Damaturu and Potiskum at over 150, and while others say it is more than 260 considering the inventory of deaths taken immediately after the attack, the Police had, without justifying their statistics or how they arrived at the figures, claimed that those killed are less than 70.
As earlier reported by several media, DESERT HERALD’s investigation reveals that the Police alone recorded about 70 deaths of cops following the Damaturu attack. This heavy loss did not include the destruction of about two Police Stations and that of the Police Command along Gujba road and in all the attacks, inside sources revealed, there was no resistance or retaliation by the police which was among the reason the sect succeeded in burning the station and virtually recorded no casualty during the operation.
Considering the ‘success’ so far recorded against the security agencies by the Boko Haram and government’s failure to contain or stop the uprising, and taking into cognizance the bitter experiences of the ‘mighty’ USA in Afghanistan, many believe that it is time for Mr. Jonathan to review the current government’s approach in dealing with the insurgency, resist the politics and double standard emanating from some of the security chiefs mostly for economic reasons and work with the governments of the affected states; most importantly Aso Rock should consider their recommendations at finding lasting solution to the killings.
Most people interviewed by DESERT HERALD lamented that the security agencies are more concerned about media propaganda and false assurances of their capacity to contain the growing insecurity rather than giving proper advice to the president on how to manage the Boko Haram crises and the shortcomings of the current method of confronting the sect members which has failed to give the desired result due to poor intelligence gathering, coordination and lack of sophisticated facilities for such purposes.
Alarmed by such consistent noise from the security agencies without visible result to justify the billions that are being spent for the purpose of containing the Boko Haram insurgency, the Senate last week summoned NSA, Andrew Azazi, and all service chiefs over the continuous attacks by the sect.
The resolution on the summon was adopted during a closed-door session held by the Senate which lasted for two hours. Briefing newsmen shortly after the meeting, Chairman, Senate Committee on Information and Media, Senator Eyinnaya Abaribe (PDP, Abia), said the Senate had mandated its committees on Police Affairs, Security and National Intelligence, Defence and Army, Air Force, Navy and Interior to “critically examine the situation and report back.”
“All of us are aware of the situation of things today in Nigeria and we want to also let you know that the National Assembly will continue to engage the executives with regards to national security and I think the discussion is on-going to ensure that each and every one of us lives in Nigeria that is free from the current problem that we are undergoing and we hope that every Nigerian will be more concerned about our security and that is exactly what we are doing,” Abaribe said.
Because of the alarming rate of insecurity in the country, last week’s summon of the security chiefs by the Senate since its inception on June 6th, is the third time the Senate met with security chiefs but yet unable to ensure that Mr. Jonathan change his current strategy on Boko Haram and adopts suggestions such as the ones offered by former President Olusegun Obasanjo and that of the Ambassador Gaji Galtimari committee.
Most of the Senators have realigned with the concern of many Nigerians that Mr. Jonathan’s security team is largely the source of the country’s growing insecurity, rather than solution, and consider the current fight against the Boko Haram insurgency as a conduit pipe that makes a lot of Army, Police and SSS officers millionaires hence the growing resistance allegedly by the security chiefs to consider the options such as the one offered by Chief Obasanjo.
Apparently as a sign of losing confidence in the ability of the current service chiefs to contain the new threat and security challenges, Senators in another move have sought the removal of all the service chiefs for non-performance.
Worried by the porous security situation, especially vis-a-vis Boko Haram, the senators have asked President Goodluck Jonathan to find an immediate solution to the threat with emphasis on removing the service chiefs.
It was learnt that the senators were worried that the security agencies had no answer to the persistent threats posed by the dare-devil sect.All the senators as at last week’ irrespective of political party affiliations, have agreed that things are degenerating in the country.
A senator told selected reporters in Abuja last week that “Although the security chiefs attempted to explain the situation to the Senate on Tuesday (last week), we were not convinced. That is why we are going to meet with the President to hear from him what the government is doing to address the situation.”
He added: “What our colleagues demanded actually was the removal of the service chiefs; they felt enough is enough before Boko Haram sect overruns the government in Abuja.
“We are certainly not after Jonathan but we owe Nigerians a duty to be safe. It was not only the opposition senators that joined issues with the service chiefs, many of us in the ruling People’s Democratic Party (PDP) did.
“For instance, it was sad that when some of us were coming to resume for the Plenary on Tuesday, a part of the road leading to the National Assembly, the residence of the Supreme Court Judges, and Transcorp Hilton was cordoned off.
“Some of us also observed that for a greater part of last week, the entrance to the Nigeria Police Force Headquarters was partially closed to traffic. The Inspector-General of Police (IGP) was under siege in his own office.
“Go to the Defence Headquarters, the passage to the place is half-way closed to traffic. We concluded that security agencies are telling us that they have lost the war to Boko Haram.
“We cannot continue to live in the nation’s capital as if we are in a war-torn country. The psychological siege is too much the way barricades are being mounted in Abuja.
“We now felt that maybe changes could make a big difference in the way we manage our security situation. At present, our agencies, with the exception of one, lack sophistication in managing security challenges.”
But if what many considered as the usual empty assurances from Mr. Jonathan about security and safety in the Nigerian state last week during the inauguration of a 13-man Presidential Advisory Committee on the Prerogative of Mercy is anything to go by, the Jonathan administration is far from solving the insecurity challenges in the country and as it was mentioned by his own people in Bayelsa, he risks being the worst Nigerian president in history.
Instead of assuring the people of adopting the key areas that were recommended as prelude to peace with the sect, Jonathan warned that the government will deliver “swift and certain justice for criminal elements,” in a country where the security agencies are clearly not prepared and equipped to fight such challenges.
DESERT HERALD investigation also reveals that the Jonathan administration has resolved not to rebuild the destroyed enclave (Markas) of the Boko Haram sect in Maiduguri. Our source at the presidency who pleaded not to be mentioned said the United States is of the opinion that any attempt to execute such demand will only increase the influence and power of the sect and further promote terrorism in Nigeria which is why Mr. Jonathan backed down after earlier assuring Chief Obasanjo that he will consider such demand. The source said considering the situation and the porous security situation in Nigeria, the country will be at the receiving end if Jonathan insists in doing the bidding of the US in finding a solution to the Boko Haram debacle.
DESERT HERALD investigation also reveals that the Jonathan administration has resolved not to accept to rebuild the destroyed enclave (Markas) of the Boko Haram sect in Maiduguri. Our source at the presidency that pleaded not to be mentioned said the United States considers any attempt to execute such demand will only increase the influence and power of the sect and to further promote terrorism in Nigeria, hence Mr. Jonathan backed down after earlier assuring Chief Obasanjo that he will consider such demand. The source said considering the situation and Purus security situation in Nigeria, the country will be at the receiving end if Jonathan insists on doing the bidding of the US in finding a solution to the Boko Haram debacle.
Even though the authorities said they have made some arrests after the attack in Damaturu and Potiskum, findings reveal that virtually all those that perpetrated the mayhem have escaped unhurt leaving behind helpless casualties at the mercy of their relatives and so far and as usual without any invention in form of assistance from either the state or the federal government. Governor Ibrahim Gaidam, who happens to be in his numerous foreign trips while the killings spree lasted, has at the time of filing this report not visited a single household either in Damaturu or Potiskum that recorded casualties either in form of deaths or injuries.
The federal government as well apart from the ceremonial condolence messages and initial intervention by the National Emergency Management Agency (NEMA) to selected victims is yet to offer any form of help to families of the victims. The brother of this reporter is among the over 150 innocent people that lost their lives during the attack and so far the Yobe State government despite claiming to have approved funds to assist the victims, did not reach out to any of the victims.
The federal government is reportedly not happy with the Yobe State government over their nonchalant attitude after the crisis and the poor performance of the state government which sources said was the reason why poverty, youth restiveness, crime and unemployment was on the increase in the state. Under Gaidam, Yobe is rated as the most economically backward state in Nigeria, and with the most dilapidated and decaying infrastructure.
So far the hope of winning the fight against the dreaded sect notwithstanding the billions of naira being spent by government and the assurances that all is well in an environment padded with increased terror and uncertainty, can be said to be as difficult as the head of a camel passing through the eye of a needle.
Meanwhile, the debate on whether Mr. Jonathan is capable of governing a complex nation like Nigeria at a time of so much security challenges/threats and religious violence/killings is now a subject of public discourse on the pages of newspapers, on the streets and even in beer parlous.
Pundits said when a ‘serious’ president invited the entire parliament of the nation at a time of serious security crisis and rampant bomb blasts but considers the lobby and issue of getting their endorsement to support an unpopular policy such as removing fuel subsidy as more important than the daily killings of his fellow citizens, even the commonman can perceive the danger, what with many saying that the nation is under what some describe as the most inept, focus- less, insensitive and visionless leadership ever in the history of Nigeria.
By OUR CORRESPONDENT
- Yobe bombings: ‘My friends were killed before my eyes’ (vanguardngr.com)
- Why can’t Nigeria defeat Boko Haram? (bbc.co.uk)
- ‘Boko Haram bombers killed by own bombs in failed attack on JTF Hq’ (vanguardngr.com)
- Nigeria sect ‘has political ties’ (bbc.co.uk)
- JTF arrests 13 Boko Haram members over Nov. 4 attacks (vanguardngr.com)