Terrorists brandish brand new weapons, says military
Insurgents encircling Maiduguri, residents warn
The Defence Headquarters has called on the international community to uncover and block sources of funding for Boko Haram, Islamic State West Africa Province and other terrorist groups in the country.
The Defence Headquarters said this just as residents of Maiduguri, in separate interviews with The PUNCH on Monday, raised the alarm that insurgents were encircling the Borno State capital.
Also, the apex northern group, the Arewa Consultative Forum, supported the North-East residents as it expressed concern about renewed attacks by Boko Haram insurgents on travellers on the Damaturu – Maiduguri road.
But the acting Director of Defence Information, Brigadier General Onyema Nwachukwu, in an interview with one of our correspondents on Monday, insisted that the military had made progress in the war against insurgents.
Nwachukwu was reacting to a statement by the European Union parliament that there had not been progress in the fight against Boko Haram insurgents.
The EU parliament, in its resolution on January 16, 2020, said the security situation in Nigeria had deteriorated significantly.
It deplored the spate of attacks and killings by the insurgents in the past weeks, and called on the President, Major General Muhammadu Buhari (retd.), to fulfil his campaign promises.
The insurgents had also launched several violent attacks on troops, including an attack on the convoy of the Theatre Commander, Operation Lafiya Dole, Major General Olusegun Adeniyi.
On Christmas eve, a faction of Boko Haram affiliated to the Islamic State West Africa Province killed 11 Christians in Borno State.
It said the action was taken to avenge the killing of a leader of an international terrorist group, Islamic State, Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, and its spokesman, Abul-Hasan Al-Muhajir, in Syria in October.
Terrorists in Nigeria blew up the Gamboru Ngala bridge in Borno State, killing about 30 persons on January 5.
On Wednesday, a terrorist group, Ansaru, attacked the convoy of Emir of Potiskum, Yobe State, Umaru Bubaram, on Kaduna-Zaria road and killed six people.
Before Wednesday, the terrorist group last carried out an attack in February 2013 when seven foreign nationals were kidnapped from a compound of a company, Setraco, in Kano.
On Friday and Saturday, 17 soldiers were killed on the Bama-Gwoza highway during two separate confrontations between insurgents and troops.
Besides attacks by the terrorist groups, there have been cases of killings and kidnapping by bandits in the North-West and parts of North-Central, particularly Niger State.
Reacting to the EU parliament’s statement, the defence headquarters spokesman said the military had been innovative in handling the security challenges in the country “in the face of conspiracies to deny Nigeria requisite military ware that will enhance the fight against terrorism and insurgency.”
Nwachukwu said violence by non-state actors was on the increase globally, noting that Nigeria was not the only one facing the challenge.
He noted that the security situation in the country had improved compared to 2013 and 2014, adding that the military had pushed back the insurgents to the fringes of the Lake Chad Basin.
Nwachukwu said, “The emerging security challenges are mostly novel and are being robustly tackled by the military and other security agencies. The bandits in the North-West have approached the negotiation table to seek peace and abandon their struggle.”
The DHQ spokesman further said the military were able to overcome the conspiracy which sought to deny the nation the military hardware needed to fight the insurgents.
He stated, “The Nigerian military have been very innovative in handling these security challenges in the face of conspiracies to deny Nigeria requisite military ware that will enhance the fight against terrorism and insurgency in Nigeria.
“The international community must do its bit in addressing the sources of funding for known terrorist groups and issues of arms proliferation across the globe.”
Global effort necessary to uncover, block terrorist funding sources – DHQ
Shedding light on his call on the international community, Nwachukwu, in an interview with one of our correspondents, said terrorists usually bought weapons and other equipment with funds from illicit drug trades, money laundering and ransoms from kidnapping.
According to him, uncovering the sources of funding and blocking them are necessary to diminish terrorism globally.
Terrorists brandish brand new weapons – Defence headquarters
He stated, “Terrorist groups do not operate in isolation. They brandish brand new firearms and weapons systems that can only be acquired with huge finances. Without funding, terrorists cannot sustain their atrocious activities. They cannot buy weapons and other equipment they deploy in their activities.”
Nwachukwu affirmed that there must be a global deliberate and conscious effort to deny terrorist groups of funding.
“They are mostly funded with money from international illicit drug trades, money laundering, ransom from kidnapping. Uncovering and blocking the sources of terrorism financing is sine qua non to diminishing terrorism globally,” Nwachukwu stressed.
Rising B’Haram attacks, kicks of a dying horse – Buratai
Nwachukwu said this just as the Chief of Army Staff, Lieutenant-General Tukur Buratai, described the spate of attacks by Boko Haram insurgents which had claimed scores of soldiers and civilians as “the kicks of a dying horse.”
The chief of army staff said that the counter-insurgency operations in the North-East and other ongoing operations across the country were achieving ‘tremendous successes.’
Apparently reacting to the EU resolution, Buratai in a statement on Monday, by the Nigerian Army Operations Media Coordinator, Col. Aminu Iliyasu, cautioned all local and foreign interests to exhibit more commitment and restraint on issues of national security and avoid taking sides.
He said, “Furthermore, all actions and utterances must be tailored towards supporting the national cause with a view to restoring peace and tranquility to our beloved country.
“The recent moribund activity of Boko Haram/Islamic State West Africa Province insurgents is synonymous with the kicks of a dying horse gasping for the last breath.
“The Chief of Army Staff also warned all enemies of Nigeria and Nigerians who take delight in the sufferings of our innocent citizens that the day of reckoning is at their doorsteps.”
Buratai said a review of the ongoing operations in the North-East indicated a renewed zeal and determination by troops to take the counter-insurgency operation to its logical conclusion with favourable outcomes.
Boko Haram encircling Maiduguri, residents warn
Residents of Maiduguri, the Borno State capital, continued to groan over the possibility of Boko Haram encircling the city.
Some of the residents of the troubled town, who spoke to one of our correspondents, said it was apparent that the town had been cut off from the rest of the country.
One of the residents, Abba Masta, who spoke to The PUNCH on Monday, said, “It is sad that it is suicidal to attempt travelling outside Maiduguri on roads as every road has been taken over by Boko Haram. The last of the safe road, Maiduguri-Damaturu road, is now worse than the other roads that have long been a no- go area.
“For about a month now, there have been daily kidnaping and killings on Maiduguri-Damaturu road. Just at the weekend Maiduguri-Bama-Gwoza road was attacked with soldiers reportedly killed. Monguno is always under attack.”
Another residents, Esther Joseph, said, “In December, I had to look for money to travel by air to Abuja from where I travelled to the East by road.”
‘Govt ensured heavy security for VIPs, abandoned other N’East residents’
A non-governmental group, the Network of Yobe Civil Society Organisations. condemned government reaction to the rising insecurity in the North-East.
It said government ensured heavy deployment of security agents during top government officials’ visits to cities in the North-East, but left ordinary citizens in the lurch.
The group in a statement on Monday by one of its leaders, Baba Shehu, expressed concern about the growing insecurity in the North-East in recent weeks, especially on the Damaturu-Maiduguri highway, where innocent travellers were killed on a daily basis; yet, the government chose to be silent without a proactive measure.
Shehu said, “We wish to remind the government that as citizens, we have rendered every support required by the security forces on the ground to curb the insurgency in our state and region, even at the expense of our fundamental rights which have faced serious abuses, but, it seems our lives are taken for granted by tolerating insurgents to continually feast on.
“The government should equally remind itself that our priority need from her is security, which it has not done enough to provide, but succeeded in making citizens lose confidence in her sincerity in that direction.
“We are all witnesses to the heavy security deployments whenever top government officials visit our cities, exposing us to unnecessary hardship throughout their stay. Therefore, we consider the lacklustre attitude in securing our highways and communities by the government as hypocritical and the height of irresponsibility and as such we are calling on her to take proactive measures in ensuring the security of our lives and property.”
Equip troops adequately, ACF tells govt
The ACF also condemned renewed attacks by Book Haram insurgents on travellers along Damaturu-Maiduguri road.
The ACF National Publicity Secretary, Alhaji Muhammad Ibrahim-Biu, in a statement on Monday in Kaduna, described the development as unfortunate and worrisome.
The northern group called on the troops executing the war against the insurgency, to not only repel the insurgents, but also chase them(insurgents) out of their enclaves.
The ACF also called on the military to sustain constant surveillance along the Damaturu-Mainok-Jakana-Auno roads and other parts of the states in the North-East in order to secure the road and villages along the axis.
This, the forum added, would assure commuters and villagers of adequate protection.
The statement read, “The Arewa Consultative Forum is saddened and worried by the spate of attacks on innocent people, especially travellers on Damaturu- Maiduguri road.
“Recent media reports of daily attacks by the Boko Haram terrorists on commuters and villagers on the road linking the two states capitals (Maiduguri and Damatutu) are disturbing and worrisome, as many were reported to have been kidnapped and even killed.
“The ACF also appeals to the Federal Government to adequately provide equipment and logistics for the troops at the frontline to adequately confront the terrorists head-on.
“The efforts of rebuilding the war ravaged areas can only be done and sustained in a secure environment, hence the need for the military to be more proactive and employ strategy that will permanently degrade the activities of the terrorists.”
It called on the communities to share intelligence with the security agencies in order to make the fight against Boko Haram terrorists meaningful.
“The ACF once more acknowledges the efforts of the military and other security agencies in the fight against Boko Haram terrorists in the North-East. However, the ACF urges them to do more by not only repelling Boko Haram attacks, but also chasing them out of their enclaves,” it stated.