101 SOLDIERS ABSCOND AFTER MARTE, DIKWA ATTACKS
• Army freezes accounts, launch manhunt
• Deradicalised Boko haram fighters picks up arms- Zulum
• North East govs mull regional security outfit
The Nigerian Army has declared 12 officers and 86 soldiers missing in the wake of last week’s Boko Haram attacks on Marte and Dikwa…
The Nigerian Army has declared 12 officers and 86 soldiers missing in the wake of last week’s Boko Haram attacks on Marte and Dikwa local government areas of Borno State.
A signal dated March 1, 2021 from Operation Lafiya Dole Headquarters in Maiduguri, sighted by the Daily Trust, showed that the soldiers were declared as deserters.
It indicated that three majors, three captains, six lieutenants, three sergeants and 89 soldiers fled in the aftermath of the attacks on Marte and Dikwa.
The signal, signed by Col. A.O. Odubiyi, on behalf of the Theatre Commander of Operation Lafiya Dole, partly read, “I am directed to connect Reference A on above subject and to respectfully forward details of additional officers and soldiers who absconded from the defensive location during the BHT attack on New Marte and Dikwa.
“You are requested to declare the named officers and soldiers’ deserters WEF 19 Feb 21. You are also requested to cause HQ NAFC to freeze their accounts and apprehend/bring them under military escort to this Headquarters if seen within your AOR.”
When contacted last night for official reaction, the spokesman of the Nigerian Army, Brig.-Gen. Mohammed Yerima, told our correspondent that, “If Army has anything to tell the world, shall we wait for the media to prompt us? No! Well, if we have anything to tell the world on that, we will tell the world, we won’t allow you to prompt us.”
It would be recalled that Boko Haram fighters had dislodged Nigerian troops in Marte on February 14, prompting the troops to relocate to Dikwa.
The insurgents reportedly foisted their flags at Marte area after killing seven troops of the 153rd Task Force Battalion.
Thereafter, the terrorists waged another war against the troops in Dikwa on February 19 but were repelled.
Shortly after the attempted attack, the Chief of Army Staff, Maj.-Gen. Ibrahim Attahiru went to Dikwa and gave a 48-hour ultimatum to the troops to recapture Marte and other towns which they did.
A military source have it that the case of the 101 soldiers that deserted was a source of concern.
“This case should not be seen as mutiny because they went different ways when they were dislodged by the insurgents. It is possible that some of them have been killed; some may have retreated to their main bases and others maybe on the run.
“This is not a new thing. It happens when military bases are dislodged,” he said.
Another military source familiar with the recent development said most of the deserters left in protest because the terrorists had superior weapons and not because they didn’t want to continue serving their country.
“The fact is that the weapons procured by the federal government between 2013 and 2014 have all worn out while others have been stolen by the terrorists during raids on military bases.
“Also, the terrorists have procured additional weapons from other sources which they are now using to take the war to the doorsteps of our troops.
“The terrorists also believe that they are fighting a religious battle and therefore are ready to fight all the time, confronting the troops with the conviction that they would either win or die. All these factors have collectively dampened the morale of our troops and the federal government must do something to revive it,” he said.
Deradicalised Boko Haram fighters pick up arms again
Meanwhile, many deradicalised Boko Haram members have reportedly re-joined the group and picked up arms against the state, Governor Babagana Zulum of Borno State said.
Zulum, who is the Chairman of the North East Governors Forum (NEGF), said this on Wednesday in Bauchi during the meeting of the six governors.
He lamented that the Boko Haram terrorists have changed tactics and were becoming more vicious, saying the federal government should halt the deradicalisation exercise and prosecute all terrorists in order to end the over 11-year insurgency.
“It has been confirmed that the concept of deradicalisation or Safe Corridor is not working as expected. Quite often those who have passed through the Safe Corridor initiative or have been deradicalised, usually go back and re-join the terror group, after carefully studying the various security arrangements in their host communities, during the reintegration process,” he said.
Zulum also said most communities were not amenable to accepting the so-called deradicalised terrorists.
“The host communities where the reintegration process is going on usually resent the presence of Boko Haram terrorists, even if they have been deradicalised, because of the despicable and atrocious activities they have committed in the past.
“So the idea of deradicalisation, as currently being implemented, needs to be reviewed because the main goals and the underlying objectives behind the initiative are not being achieved.
“The best option is to immediately prosecute the terrorists, in accordance with the Terrorism Act. However, those people who, ab initio, were forcefully recruited but have been rescued or have escaped from the group, should be the ones to be subjected to the deradicalisation process.
“On the prosecution of terrorists, we must make effort to avoid the current encumbrances and intricacies associated with the process, which usually takes considerable time, by urging the appropriate federal authorities to devolve the powers of the Minister of Justice and Attorney-General of the Federation to state attorneys-general in order to facilitate the prosecution process,” he said.
While applauding the appointment of new service chiefs in his welcoming address during the meeting which is their fourth, Zulum said: “As it is now, especially in Borno State, violence, being perpetrated by the insurgents, seems to be on the increase, both in scope and viciousness; and it has become a matter of tactical necessity for the new service chiefs to devise new offensive strategies to counter the current attacks and forestall any future attacks.
“Undoubtedly, the commitment of our military to the war against the insurgency is unquestionable and their determination to succeed is undeniable, as they have considered and acted upon a full range of options to deal with the insurgency.
“However, with the current escalation of deadly attacks by the terrorists, the various courses of action being pursued seem to have some limitations in terms of the expected impact; hence the need for a new set of pragmatic and result-oriented initiatives to completely subdue the terrorists and ultimately end the insurgency.
North East govs mull regional security outfit
The North East governors have also considered the idea of a regional security outfit because of the rising insecurity in the region.
Zulum said the current escalation of deadly attacks by terrorists and the various causes of action being pursued to fight insurgents have some limitations in terms of the expected impact, hence the need for a new set of pragmatic and result-oriented initiative to be deployed to completely subdue the terrorists.
“On our part, in addition to the logistic and financial support we are rendering to the armed forces in their fight against general insecurity in the sub-region, we should also look into the possibility of forming a security outfit within the ambit of constitutional precedent and operational feasibility as has been done in other parts of the country,” he said.
He also reiterated his call on the federal government to seek support from mercenaries from neighbouring countries to enable it win the war against insurgents in the country.
“The government should also seek support from neighbouring countries such as the Republic of Chad, Cameroon and Niger with a view to providing a joint action that will look into the possibility of ending this crisis.
“The federal government has to look into the possibility of involving mercenaries with a view to ending this insurgency because it seems that the commitment is not there.
“Therefore, for us to end this insurgency, we must be committed enough, we must bring in external support to ensure that mercenaries are hired to end this insurgency,” he said
Earlier in his remarks, Governor Bala Mohammed of Bauchi State emphasised the need for standing up and fighting the insurgents so that after the defeated, they will not be able to regroup again.
“Our fight against insurgency must be total because by the time Maiduguri is subdued, then we are not safe here too. Security infrastructure must be put in place to be able to fight this war considering the sophistication of the terrorists.
“If we must be honest, the public opinion at the moment is that we have failed, that many of our people have resorted to self-help in order to get away from this despondency. We must accept the fact that the over-centralization of the security arrangement is an obsolete school.
“We will not just sit down and watch until terrorists overrun us, we must stand up to fight them, chase them away and ensure that our areas are well secured,” he said.
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Reservations about deradicalisation not new
Daily Trust reports that the Chairman of the Senate Committee on Army, Senator Ali Ndume (APC, Borno), had in November last year faulted the deradicalisation, rehabilitation and reintegration of the repentant terrorists, saying it was not in order.
Ndume’s words: “I am in disagreement with the government on the issue of deradicalising and reintegrating (repentant Boko Haram members). I still maintain that. You can’t be resettling people, pampering them while the war is on.
“The committee is on the same page and I believe many Nigerians are on the same page with this. In my village, mallams that are Muslims, not ordinary Muslims but mallams, elders above 60, were taken to an abattoir and slaughtered by Boko Haram. 75 of them,” he said.