The signal we receive daily in counterterrorism campaigns, especially from Borno State is disturbing and alarming. The alleged conspiracy and seeming collaboration with members of the affected communities are also grave and disturbing, considering the sacrifice of the Nigerian troops to curtail the excesses of the terrorists in the northeast region.
More worrisome is the fact that President Muhammadu Buhari deliberately appointed top security officers from North-East, especially Borno hoping that they could reciprocate the gesture by cooperating with the security agencies.
It is indeed very embarrassing that in three months there have been at least three attacks in Monguno, the hometown of the current National Securiy Adviser Major General Babagana Monguno Rtd who is from Borno State. There were similar attacks in the village of Chief of Army Staff, Major General Tukur Buratai in Biu local government also in Borno State.
Not sooner with those attacks on the hometowns of top security officers in Borno State, the Nigerian Army has come out to publicly denounce the activities of Borno Elders whom it accused of not cooperating enough with the military to end the war on terrorism but would rather profit from the escalation of the hostility.
In a recent emotional statement, the Nigerian Army sent “a very strong and serious final warning” to some prominent individuals and political groups who hail from Borno State against sabotaging the efforts to end terrorism.
The military stated that there is information of plans by some highly placed individuals and political groups to undermine and scuttle the fight against terrorism and insurgency in this country.
According to the Director of Army Public Relations (DAPR), Col. Sani Usman, “the unscrupulous individuals and their cohorts were determined to reverse the gains made and scuttle our efforts of achieving the Presidential directive to defeat Boko Haram terrorists within three months”.
The military further disclosed that the suspected groups of Boko Haram sympathisers were employing the services of marabouts and other unethical means in order to frustrate military efforts and the operations in addition to campaign of calumny.
While we may have reservations on the strategies of previous administration of Goodluck Jonathan in counter-terrorism, we are aware of the successes recorded towards the tail end of that administration. In fact the former National Security Adviser, Colonel Sambo Dasuki disclosed how the administration recovered over 22 local government areas from the terrorists and the liberation of Sambisa before May 29, 2015 handover date. Monguno, Baga, Bama and Konduga were among other local government councils in Borno State which was under Boko Haram for several months but were liberated before the change of government.
The question bothering my minds is why terrorists are now coming back to attacks communities in Borno State when most top military and security positions are today held by Borno people or officers from North-East. Why is it that most of the suspects and leaders of Boko Haram are Kanuris rather than Hausas, Fulanis or other tribes in the North?
Rather than engage in blame-game, Northerners, especially the Muslims whose religion is used by terrorists for their baseless and unwholesome jihads, should come out openly to condemn the atrocities as well as caution their backers and sympathisers do desist from that acts.
It is interesting reading the response of Arewa Consultative Forum (ACF) who supported the Nigerian military in condemning some Borno elites who are alleged to be backing the terrorists.
ACF as a northern socio-political group should continue to express strong condemnation of those those allegedly aiding and abetting the activities of Boko Haram insurgents in the North-East and other parts of the country as enemies of Nigeria.
The ACF noted that it is callous, wicked and unfortunate that some prominent individuals places their personal benefits above national interest, the daily killings of innocent lives and destruction of property as a result of the Boko Haram insurgency in the last six years.
ACF urges the military to thoroughly investigate the clandestine activities and other diabolical efforts of these politicians, expose and prosecute them to serve as a deterrent to others. Nigeria cannot afford to treat such unscrupulous groups or individuals with kid gloves at this material time that all hands are on deck to restore peace and order in the Northeast subregion and the country in general.
The military and security agencies should conduct thorough investigation, arrest and prosecute all those involved. We should all support and encourage the military to take any lawful action against the so called prominent elders and politicians undermining the effort of the Federal Government to combat terrorism and insurgency in Nigeria.
I strongly urge the current National Security Adviser, general Monguno to wake up and proffer new strategies to ensure that the military accomplish the task of ending the Boko Haram in three months as directed by President Muhammadu Buhari. He should also join other community leaders and youth groups in Borno, the only state where Boko Haram operates, to appeal to Boko Haram members to surrender or expect elimination.
Fatimi Goni writes from Bayero University, Kano and can be emailed via [email protected]
The opinions expressed in this article are solely those of the author.