A former military administrator of Benue State, Col. Aminu Isa Kontagora (rtd), has urged the Nigerian military to investigate the allegation by Governor Babagana Zulum of Borno State of sabotage within the army structure.
The governor, after his convoy was attacked by suspected Boko Haram members in Baga on Wednesday made the allegation.
- Zulum, Shettima attend eid prayer in Maiduguri
- Attack on Zulum: Sack service chiefs now, Reps urge Buhari
But the army spokesman, Col. Sagir Musa, on Friday, told Daily Trust that it was already investigating the incident.
Reacting to Zulum’s comment in an interview with Daily Trust, Kontagora said: “This is the second time the governor is accusing the military of sabotage since he assumed office, I remember the first time was when they stopped people from entering Maiduguri and insurgents killed over 80 people.”
He said the military should get to the root of the matter.
“They should investigate his claim. I know it is not likely to come from the military because the insurgents will always want to prove that they are still on the ground but the military will have to investigate what actually happened.
“The insurgents and soldiers have understood each other’s tactics so well.
“And because the insurgency has gone rural with the insurgents having friends among locals such an attack is possible.
“More so, because of the way the insurgency has gone it is possible for the insurgents to get information from the governor’s convoy.
“In any case, the insurgents will always put up acts like that to show that they are still on the ground. I don’t think the attack on the governor was from the military,” he said.
He added that the war was not expected to go on time but soldiers also need to fight like the insurgents.
“Destroy their bases and get their leaders to weaken their attack,” he said.
An international terrorism and development consultant, Dr. Amaechi Nwokolo, also said the allegation of the governor should not be swept under the carpet.
He said the governor raised a position that had always been emphasised by some people, adding that sabotage within the military structure should be taken seriously.
“He (Governor Zulum) is right to a great extent because we have been crying out about this sabotage and fifth columnists but we are seeing it playing out seriously. So, it is not far from the truth,” he said.
“The other issue about sabotage is one thing that we have been talking about in a very long time because the man was very sure about what he was saying.
“He had an argument with an officer and the man said it was not Boko Haram that was shooting,” Dr. Nwokolo said.
He said the governor would be the first person to mobilise the people against terrorists should he go ahead with his plans to mobilise hunters and members of vigilante groups.
“To a great extent, I think that this thing has happened before.
“The people were mobilised against al-Qaida in Algeria, so it is not a new thing if the people decide to rise against the terrorists.
“What is the number of the terrorists compared to the people as he (Governor Zulum) said,” he said.
He said the comment of the governor as regards mobilisation of hunters and vigilante was “very heavy and deep and I know that there is nobody that can defeat the power of the people.”
On whether the statement won’t affect the morale of troops, he said, “The morale of the troops is already down, he has tried, even after the attack, he still made some donations.
“The morale of the troops has already been dampened,” he said.
Zulum speaks on attack
Governor Babagana Zulum had expressed displeasure with the Army over the attack on his convoy by those suspected to be Boko Haram gunmen in Baga, Kukawa Local Government Area of the state on Wednesday.
He survived an ambush by gunmen while on a trip to Monguno and Baga towns to distribute food to IDPs.
Speaking with the army’s commanding officer in Mile 4, he wondered why the army had not been able to secure Baga despite the number of troops deployed for over a year.
“You have been here for over one year now, there are 1,181 soldiers here, if you cannot take over Baga which is less than 5km from your base, then we should forget about Baga.
“I will inform the Chief of Army Staff to redeploy the men to other places that they can be useful,” Zulum was quoted as saying.
“You people said there’s no Boko Haram here, then who attacked us?”
Also reacting, the Northern Governors Forum through its chairman, Governor Simon Lalong of Plateau State, described the attack as “callous and reprehensible.”
Lalong’s statement which was signed by his spokesman, Makut Macham, said the attack was to frustrate the governor’s efforts towards reducing the sufferings of IDPs.
Army probing attack—Spokesman
The Nigerian Army yesterday said it had commenced an investigation into the attack on the convoy of Governor Babagana Zulum.
Army spokesman, Colonel Sagir Musa, told Daily Trust that the army wanted to reassure the general public that this would be interrogated with a view to forestalling future occurrence.
“Although, details of the unfortunate incident are sketchy and under investigation, efforts are ongoing to comb the area where the incident occurred with a view to tracking down and dealing decisively with the attackers.
“An investigation is also in progress to identify the circumstances that led to the attack.”
He said, “Regrettably, this is an isolated and most unfortunate incident that occurred in a territory where normalcy has since been restored with socio-economic activities picking up.
“Additionally, the Nigerian Army wishes to inform the general public that it will continue to discharge its responsibilities professionally with respect for the fundamental human rights of all Nigerians and in compliance with the extant rules of engagement.
“The good people of Baga town and indeed the entire Borno State are enjoined to continue to provide credible information that will assist the security agencies to successfully combat terrorism as well as apprehend and flush out the perpetrators of the attack,” Musa stated.
Buhari again charges service chiefs
President Muhammadu Buhari on Friday told service chiefs that they could do much better despite the fact that the military, the police and other security agencies are currently working hard.
Buhari, who spoke to Nigerians shortly after performing the eid prayers with his family and aides at the State House, Abuja, assured that there would be more resources for the country’s military, police and other security agencies to deal with the security situation in the country.
“We are making available resources to them to even do better….from the reports I am getting, they could do much better…they could do much better.
“But we are keeping them on the alert all the time to do their duties,” the president said this while reacting to a question on the performance of the service chiefs which he recently said needed to get better.
Buhari described the situation, particularly in the North West and the North Central parts of the country as “very disturbing.”
He said while much had been achieved security-wise from the situation he inherited in 2015, more still needed to be done.
“Nigerians know that we have done our best. However, what is coming out of the North West and the North Central is very disturbing,” he added.
He said all past and present cases would be fully investigated.
“This is why we put the commission (of investigation) in place. There has been abuse of trust by people trusted by the previous administration and this administration,” he said.
He stressed that all such cases would be uncovered and firmly dealt with by his government.
On the Niger Delta, he decried the wastage of the resources earmarked for the people of the region.
He said that corruption had been unhelpful in that regard, especially “if you recall there is the 13 per cent derivation.”
Sack service chiefs now—Reps Minority caucus
The Minority Caucus in the House of Representatives has called on President Muhammadu Buhari to sack the service chiefs over the attack on Borno State governor, Professor Babagana Zulum.
“The caucus in a statement signed by the House Minority Leader, Ndudi Elumelu, urged the president to implement the recent resolution passed by both chambers of the National Assembly asking him to sack the service chiefs.
Elumelu said the caucus was alarmed by the Thursday attack, adding that the incident had again reinforced the urgent need to review the nation’s security architecture.
“The worsening security situation in the country under the current service chiefs has reached an unbearable state to the extent that insurgents have the temerity to attack an armed convoy of a state governor.
“This is more so with the insistence by Governor Zulum of a compromising security system in the area, allegedly creating an opening to the attack, a position that validates the call for immediate reorganizing of the nation’s security architecture.
“The entire nation is distressed by the incessant mindless killing of our citizens and pillaging of defenseless communities by insurgents, bandits and kidnappers, which have brought indescribable agony, anguish and torment to innocent Nigerians.
“We the opposition lawmakers hereby in the strongest terms restates the call to President Muhammadu Buhari to honor the resolution of the National Assembly and immediately remove the service chiefs and bring in new hands to effectively confront the security challenges confronting our nation,” he said.