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Published On: Wed, Jul 30th, 2014

Boko Haram: Why military must urgently redeem its integrity

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he capacity and integrity of the military to handle the Boko Haram, a dreaded gang that has been terrorizing Nigeria and some other African countries in recent times has come under scrutiny.

President Paul Biya, on Tuesday, dismissed two senior army officers in Cameroon’s far north, following Boko Haram attacks in which at least seven people were killed and the wife of a senior official was kidnapped. Militants of the Nigerian Boko Haram reportedly seized the wife of Cameroon’s vice prime minister and killed at least three people on Sunday, in an attack in the northern part of the country.

Those sacked include Col. GedeonYossa, the commander of the northern legion of gendarmerie as well as Lieutenant Colonel Justin Ngonga, the commander of the 34th motorized infantry battalion of the same region.

These sacking comes at the height of increasing military support to Boko Haram in the far northern provinces of Cameroon, sources said.

Security sources in the region indicate that government troops complain about being adequately unequipped to counter the heavily-armed enemy, involving more than 200 assailants.At least four soldiers were killed in two separate raids late last week.

The Boko Haram terrorists had on Sunday kidnapped the wife of the Cameroonian deputy prime minister and a traditional leader in attacks in the far north of the country that left at least six dead.

The terrorists have stepped up raids into northern Cameroon, murdering and stealing with impunity despite military efforts to clamp down on its insurgency.

The previous Thursday evening, two Cameroonian soldiers were killed as they tried to defend a local village from fighters.

It was reported that Cameroon sent warplanes and elite troops from its Rapid Intervention Battalion to stop the fighters after two attacks in Kolofata, close to the Nigerian border.

Unidentified source close to a local police force told Reuters Boko Haram had “kidnapped many people,” adding: “There was the sultan, the wife of the deputy prime minister and several police officers.”

Another police officer said fighter planes were deployed to Kolofata early on Sunday morning and “there was shelling in the area” after the attacks, without giving further details.

However, the security forces in Cameroon on Tuesday rescued the wife of the Cameroonian deputy minister, Mr. Amadou Ali, according to a report by the Hausa service of the BBC. According to the report, the deputy Prime minister also managed to escape the assailants to a neighbouring town.

Cameroon, like other West African countries, has beefed up its operations against Boko Haram since the kidnapping of more than 200 Nigerian schoolgirls over three months ago sparked an international outcry.

Also on Sunday, at least five people were killed in two attacks on Nigeria’s largest northern city, Kano, by suspected Boko Haram militants.

One attack targeted a Catholic church in a mainly Christian area of the city, when an improvised bomb was thrown into the building shortly after Mass, the police said.

In another, a female suicide bomber killed herself and injured five police officers when she blew herself up outside a university in Kano, a police spokesman added.

In Yobe state death toll in Potiskum from Boko Haram attacks this week has hit 13, while about 35 were injured.

Boko Haram has killed thousands of people, including more than 2,000 civilians this year, since they started a bloody insurgency to establish an Islamic state in the mainly Muslim north of Nigeria in 2009.

All efforts by the federal government to curtail the Boko Haram insurgents and release over 200 young school girls in their custody have failed. The Nigerian presidency is now embroiled in a controversy over an alleged release of N100 million to the Chibok girls parents through their leaders in Abuja, what is considered an international disgrace.

Why the presidency shamelessly denies releasing funds to the parents, a prominent senator from the north has admitted to the BBC Hausa that money was given to the parents of the girls when they met President Jonathan at the state house, Abuja recently.

This will not be the first time federal authorities is will err on the Boko Haram saga. The security operative’s ones claimed that they had rescued some of the Chibok girls, but the integrity of the claim was subsequently challenged.

The Nigerian public is increasingly apprehensive in the ability of the Nigerian army and their sister units to handle the Boko Haram.

The Obama-led US government, which is currently working with the Nigerian government on tackling the Boko Haram insurgents has identified one of problems as lack of intelligence gathering, agreeing to extend the security engagement with the federal government in terms of intelligence that will assist Nigeria in tackling the insecurity posed by Boko Haram in the north east part of the country.

They are also working with the security forces on professionalizing the security forces and in dealing with human rights issues as well as the Police forces on Improvised Explosives Devices (IEDs) detection.

The US government has also identified a wider problem of development and engagement with the people of northern Nigeria, insisting that that has to be addressed too in addition to issues of education, agriculture and other areas to try and help the Nigerian government to address some of the root problem that causes desperation that will lead people to the sort of heinous things that Boko Haram does

The US has also expressed concern over the threat of violence by politicians who lose elections, insisting that those political parties have absolutely key roles to play in the country’s insecurity problem and they need to behave responsibly.

The African Leadership Summit is coming up from August 4-6; it is being envisaged that gathering of about 50 African Heads of State, CEOs, civil societies and others will proffer solution the protracted problem of Boko Haram in Nigeria and beyond.

West African leaders have held an extraordinary meeting in Accra, Ghana, to discuss the degenerating security situation in Nigeria and Mali where militant groups have launched intense attacks in the last one month.

The insecurity in the two countries has threatened to spill into the larger West African sub-region. The meeting became necessary following the latest clashes between rebel groups in Kidal, northern Mali and government forces, which resulted in the loss of several lives, with thousands of people suffering displaced.

The regional leaders are certainly in control of the security situation in parts of northern Nigeria where the Boko Haram militants, in the last 107 days abducted more than 250 school girls from a secondary school in Chibok, Borno state.

However, the revelations in Cameroun clearly show that the military is under equipped and lacks capacity to withstand the fire force of the Boko Haram. This is in addition to the allegation that the military has been aiding the Boko Haram insurgents.

The question on the lips of many Nigerians as well as the international community is: what hopes lies there for our Chibok girls? The jury is still out on this front-burner issue.


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