Like all other grieving Nigerians, we condemn the dastardly attack on Federal Government College, Buni-Yadi in Yobe state where about 59 innocent students were shot dead in their sleep. The attackers did not stop there but went on to set buildings ablaze in a repeat of last year’s attack on Government College, Mamudo also in Yobe state which claimed about 40 lives. The question that, however, continues to linger on our minds is: where were the soldiers while the over four-hour attack lasted?
The Yobe state governor, Ibrahim Gaidam, first made the observation while on a visit to the site of the Buni-Yadi attack when he lamented that it was strange that soldiers that were supposed to be on guard were mysteriously withdrawn. His Adamawa counterpart, Murtala Nyako, joined in forcefully, saying: “President, Vice President, Governors and the military – they are the only groups that pass checkpoints without being searched and which of these groups are conveying these arms to the scene of the action? We want to know.
“The other aspect is that the army withdrew from the checkpoint, before the attack in Yadi–Buni, who ordered the withdrawal? We also have a case where General Shuwa was killed by so called Boko Haram. There are army units there but they didn’t respond during the incident; who told them not to respond when Shuwa was being attacked? The Air Force base was being raided; there is unit of the army nearby, who gave them order not to respond until all the aircraft were destroyed?”
The incessant attacks by insurgents in Borno, Adamawa and Yobe in spite of the existence of a state of emergency leaves much to be desired and has led many Nigerians to begin to think there is more to the Boko Haram insurgency than meets the eye. We fail to understand why, for example, the insurgents can so effortlessly continue to carry out such attacks and get away with it on every occasion. While explaining the absence of soldiers during the Buni-Yadi attack, Defence headquarters spokesman, Major Gen. Chris Olukolade, told newsmen that there was a redeployment of troops in Yobe at the time of the attack. We find this excuse completely unacceptable and demand that someone in the army is held accountable for this glaring error of judgement. What Olukolade inadvertently disclosed was that someone in the army must have tipped off the attackers of the impending movement of troops which made it possible for them to launch their mayhem unhindered. We are amazed that the insurgents could willfully organise and move their members in a convoy of vehicles without any hint of such movement among the military’s intelligence circle.
Since the insurgency started, billions of naira have been expended on arming and equipping the military by the federal government to carry out the task of routing the insurgents. Sadly, that objective has still not been achieved. What has been achieved is the escalating number of casualties among both civilians and the military as a result of attacks. The insurgency has consumed service chiefs who had no clue on how to win the war and it seems set to give the new set of service chiefs a good run for their money as long as they continue to prosecute the war in the rudderless manner they are now doing.
At his press briefing, Olukolade said the military has launched what he called a “specialised campaign” against the insurgents but we are not convinced yet that this will make any difference as just a day after he made his announcement more attacks were reported in parts of Adamawa, and a day later in Maiduguri, the Borno state capital. We believe President Jonathan has not demonstrated sufficient will to end this protracted insurgency. Until he does, this debacle is not likely to end anytime soon.