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Published On: Mon, Aug 18th, 2014

Assessing the task of the military in combating terrorism

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Aliyu-GusauBy Evelyn Okakwu

Since the emergence of terrorism in the shores of our country, various stake holders have contributed to the task of curtailing the situation and maintaining a united Nigeria.

The Nigerian media has in various occasions collaborated with stake holders to preach the gospel of peace and Unity, and avert a culture of violence, which seems to be the motive behind the activities of terrorists in the country.

Facts however have indicated that the battle is still on-going, and the major actors in the battle field have had a fair share of trouble meted to them in the line of duty, just as Nigerians have also not stopped counting their losses from the activities of terrorists in the country.

According to the Human Rights’ Watch, the activities of the radical terrorist group, the Boko Haram, has led to the death of  2,053 people in 95 attacks within the first half of 2014.

Some of these attacks have been directed to the Nigerian Military.

Even in cases where the military was not the original target, the result of an exchange of fire between the military and these insurgents is sometimes the death of the soldiers, who have the responsibility of protecting a people, against a set of others bent on destroying the people.

In this report by the Vanguard Newspapers on the 21 of June this year, a Liberian widow to a Nigerian soldier narrates the painful death of her husband.

“It’s very painful losing your husband this way. If this is what life is all about then I don’t really know how to describe it other than nothing. It is a painful experience losing one’s husband and yet facing this excruciating situation”.

“He was on an escort with his Colonel and other eight soldiers when Boko Haram sect attacked them. They fell in an ambush. He was said to have been burnt to ashes by the sect. We didn’t see his remains. He was burnt to ashes. How can one survive this sorrow? How can one survive this mental torture?” adds the widow in sorrow.

In a similar development, a mother, Asabe Adamu who spoke to Peoples Daily said she will not be able to allow her husband or mail children enter in the Nigerian Military because of the Kind of torture they have become prone to in the hands of these terrorists. According to her: “Soldiers in Nigeria are exposed to the dangerous ordeal of having to face these dreaded killers who have no human heart, despite the fact that they possess human bodies. The situation is so bad, and the fear is that terrorism is not ready to leave the North East, any time soon; especially not States like Maiduguri, Adamawa and the other States currently facing the challenge. Young boys have repeatedly died in attacks or an exchange of fire with theses sects, and the worst part is that no matter what the government says about helping these people, the Nigerian philosophy will still be employed. Many people will try to steal from money meant for disbursement to the families of the diseased, leaving them with nothing to console them over the death of their loved ones.

In fact, the actions of some of these Nigerians, even though they do not carry arms like these Boko Haram, may very well be likened to the acts of heartless people like the very terrorists we are talking about.”

“Also in a recent report,  Units of the 213 battalion Task Force and 234 Special Operations battalion both based in Mubi, Adamawa State, which attempted to retake Gwoza Township from Islamist militant Boko Haram were said to have retreated and sent signals for air support as a result of unrelenting gun fire from the insurgents”.

Obviously the battle before the Nigerian Military before the whole of Nigeria is not a day’s task. Like some Nigerians have rightly indicated, the activities of terrorists, as witnessed by Nigeria in recent times, are alien to us.

Unfortunately the challenges the challenges have been more than calculated. As stated by the Defense Minister, Aliyu Gunsau, “The main challenge we are facing in the North-East is that of the citizens not giving us information. “This is a war that all Nigerians must partake in, not necessarily by taking part in the fight but by getting us timely information”.

However the effects of the trauma created by the loss of lives in the North have continued to grow. On the 11th of August, Wives of soldiers protested the deployment of their husbands to take on Boko Haram insurgents in areas said to have been captured by the terrorist group.

The women numbering over 100, caused pandemonium at the entrance of the 21 Armoured Brigade of the Nigeria Army, Giwa Barracks, Maiduguri, insisting that there was no way their husbands would be allowed to leave their homes to go to the hotspots to take on the terrorists with the inferior weapons they were given.

Last month a report was carried about the President of the association and wife of the Chief of Army Staff, (NAOWA) Mrs Felly Minimah, requesting Military authorities to make available the benefits of dead officers so that the families of these dead soldiers can leave a better life.

There is no doubt that in the face of terror, the military is responsible for ensuring safety of lives and property. But unless the military is safe enough to deliver, the task will be more cumbersome than anticipated.

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