Vice Chairman of the Senate Committee on Gas, Ahmed Zannah Khalifa, has alleged that over 1,000 people have been killed by the Boko Haram insurgents in the last one week in the North East region of the country.
Khalifa, who is representing Borno Central in the Senate, spoke on Sunday in an interview with the Daily Independent in Abuja.
He lamented that the casualties in various killings were high due to the inability of the armed forces operating in the area to contain the insurgency.
Khalifa, also a member of the Senate Committee on Industries, accused the Federal Government of not equipping the soldiers enough to be able to surmount the insurgents that have been terrorising the region in the last three years.
He insisted that the terrorist sect was still in full grip of Borno and Yobe states, pointing out that over 20 villages in the areas were under the control of the insurgents.
“Since there are no schools, no markets functioning in those villages, it shows that the Boko Haram are still in total control of the area,” Khalifa said.
Reacting to insinuations that most of the bombings were carried out by the security operatives, Khalifa, a member of the ruling Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), said: “We are still investigating whether the security personnel were responsible for the bombings. We are not sure yet. But after our investigation, we will be able to say whether there are complexities in the military operations or not”.
He, however, regretted that he had not been able to have access to President Goodluck Jonathan to narrate his ordeals to him in the midst of the crisis, adding that he has been under serious threat because of his position on the crisis in his area.
“I have no access to the President to tell him my ordeals. I have made effort several times to see him, but I could not. He is supposed to look for me as a sitting Senator, not me looking for him,” Khalifa lamented.
On the threat by the Northern elders to take former Chief of Army Staff, Azubuike Ihejirika, a retired General, to the International Criminal Court (ICC) over his alleged role in the crisis in the North East, the Senator said: “We are still gathering evidences against him. We have enough, but we are still gathering more. At the right time, we will come up with our position”.
Khalifa implored Jonathan to be more serious in the efforts towards eliminating the insurgents.
He reminded the President that he (President) was elected by the people of Nigeria without a drop of blood, urging him to do everything within his powers to stop the on-going bloodbath in the country.
Meanwhile, residents of Borno State are primed for a three-day fast beginning today and ending on Thursday to seek divine intervention in the resurgence of killings by members of the Boko Haram Islamist sect.
According to Shehu of Borno, Alhaji Abubakar Ibn-Garbai, who issued the directive on Monday in Maiduguri, the fast is to ask for Allah’s help in restoring peace to the state.
“I am appealing to all residents of the state to observe a three-day fasting to seek Allah’s mercy towards ending the crisis facing us”, he said.
“I believe we should continue to seek for Allah’s help toward restoring peace in the state.”
Ibn-Garbai bemoaned the human and material devastation caused by the renewed killings by the terrorists, saying there can be no other time to seek God’s intervention.
Although he said special prayers would be held in mosques and churches during the period, he further implored residents to remain relentless in their prayers afterwards.
Ibn-Garbal’s prayer-and-fasting directive came on the same day the Borno State Civilian Joint Task Force (JTF) pleaded for the material and financial support of the Federal Government to bolster the contribution of its members to maintenance of peace in the state.
Spokesman of the group, Iliasu Saidu, said while vehicles would aid the movement of the 2,500-plus youths, an allowance would serve as a steady source of livelihood while also motivating them for the challenge.
“Borno is Nigeria and the people fomenting violence and the killings are Nigerians”, said Saidu, who revealed plans of the state government to recruit another 1,500 youths to the civilian group.
“If we can have assistance from the Federal Government, it will help us to achieve peace. Borno is a beautiful state that must not be taken over by hoodlums.”
Also, the All Progressives Congress (APC) again on Monday called on President Goodluck Jonathan to “take time off his premature electioneering campaign” to visit Yobe State to commiserate with the bereaved families of the school children who were brutally murdered by terrorists last month.
Fifty-nine students of the Federal Government College, Buni Yadi, Yobe State, were massacre by the Boko Haram insurgents on March 25.
In a statement in Lagos by its Interim National Publicity Secretary, Lai Mohammed, APC said it is inconceivable that about two weeks after the “heart-wrenching killings of more than 29 schoolchildren, the President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria has not deemed it fit to visit the state”.
It said far from being a mere formality, such a visit will provide great succour to the families of the victims, reassure them and other residents of the state that their government has not abandoned them to their fate, and also serve as a morale booster for the troops who are battling the terrorists, against all odds.
‘’There is no other democracy in the world in which that number of schoolchildren will be killed and the head of government will carry on with business as usual.
“Since the killings, President Jonathan has made a national broadcast in which he mentioned the killings only as a footnote, instead of making it the central point of the broadcast.
‘’Since the killings, the President has presided over a wasteful national celebration, in which the drums were rolled out to mark the country’s centenary even as devastated families were still mourning and those injured were reeling from their pains.
‘’Since the killings, President Jonathan has been gallivanting across the country, surreptitiously kick-starting his electioneering campaign for 2015 under the guise of receiving some inconsequential political jobbers now wearing the tag of defectors.
“This junketing has taken the President everywhere, including Sokoto, Minna, Ilorin and Onitsha. But he has pointedly avoided Yobe.
“To put it mildly, the father of the nation has been practically dancing on the graves of those innocent souls. This is not the stuff of leadership and the President must make amends by visiting Yobe today,’’ APC said.
The party said Jonathan should take a cue to what obtains in other lands, especially in the U.S after which Nigeria has modelled its democracy.
‘’In January 2014, U.S President Barack Obama flew to Tennessee, where he spoke at a high school where students were still reeling from the shooting death of just one of their classmates; In 2012, President Obama paid a similar visit to Newtown in Connecticut, where he met relatives of the 20 schoolchildren and eight adults who were shot. These are examples worthy of emulation by President Jonathan,’’ APC said.
It challenged the President to tell Nigerians why he has not or why he would not visit the scene of the gruesome murders.
‘’Whatever his reasons are, the President and Commander in Chief of the Armed Forces must not give the impression that there is any part of the country he cannot visit for any reason whatsoever, otherwise he would only have succeeded in handing some sort of victory to the terrorists who have continued to kill and plunder in the North-east,’’ the party added.
In a related development, the United Nations Education and Children Fund (UNICEF) has expressed concerns on the killing of children by the Boko Haram sect.
The Fund said it will, in collaboration with other stakeholders, carry out a verification exercise of the North East region of Nigeria to access the situation on ground.
This is coming jus as the National Human Rights Commission (NHRC) also expressed concern on the human rights and humanitarian condition of women and children especially in the North East following the instability in the region.
To this end, the commission said it was committed to lead the UNICEF and other stakeholders in the campaign against child rights violations in Nigeria, particularly in the North East where insecurity has greatly affected the vulnerable group.
According to a statement by Chief Press Officer in the NHCR, Fatimah Agwai Mohammed, “the Executive Secretary of the Commission Prof. Ben Angwe, gave the assurance when he received a delegation from the UNICEF led by its Country Representative, Jane Gough, who paid him a courtesy visit in Abuja”.
Earlier, Gough had expressed worries over the difficult challenges being faced by children in the North Eastern part of the country, saying most of them are afraid to go to school for fear of being killed or bombed by members of the Boko Haram sect.
Also on Monday, an angry Senate Committee on Environment and Ecology queried the Federal Ministry of Environment for paying N21 million to a contractor who claimed that his firm was currently executing a construction project in the troubled Bama community of Borno State.
The committee has, therefore, directed senior officials of the ministry to institute a probe into the issue and forward their findings to it before their 2014 budget could be approved.
Permanent Secretary of the ministry, Taiye Haruna, had listed the Bama road construction, which also include drainage work and erosion control, as one of the 20 other constituency/intervention projects at different stages of execution and on which N1.4 billion had been paid.
He stated this when he stood in for the Minister, Lawrencia Labaran-Mallam, when the Senate committee led by the Chairman, Bukola Saraki, visited the ministry headquarters in Abuja on oversight functions.
Haruna had drawn the anger of members of the committee when he claimed that his ministry had effectively implemented all the 20 constituency/intervention projects under its supervision and reeled out the details.
Senator Boluwaji Kunlere, a member of the committee, immediately drew the attention of the Perm Sec to the fact that there was no way any contractor could execute any project in Bama between July 2013 and now when the area had been fully occupied by the Boko Haram insurgents.
Kunlere, also a member of the Senate Committee on Security and Intelligence, believes that the claims of the contractors were fraudulent because it was difficult for even his team led by heavily armed military personnel, to gain access to the area when they went there on oversight functions within the same period.
The Perm Sec, however, referred the issue to a director in charge of the project who justified the N21 million paid to the contractors when he said convincing evidences, including documents and pictures, were presented to him.
He told the committee that the N1.4 billion appropriated to the ministry for constituency projects had been fully disbursed to the various contractors that handled them.
Posts tagged ‘Azubuike Ihejirika’
Vice Chairman of the Senate Committee on Gas, Ahmed Zannah Khalifa, has alleged that over 1,000 people have been killed by the Boko Haram insurgents in the last one week in the North East region of the country.
“Gunmen from Islamist sect Boko Haram killed 51 people in an attack on a town in northeast Nigeria…in a region where President Goodluck Jonathan’s troops are struggling to contain its insurgency. Dozens of Boko Haram fighters speeding along in trucks painted in military colours and armed with automatic weapons and explosives stormed Konduga local government area in Borno state at around 4 p.m. on…burning houses and shooting fleeing villagers…The insurgents also took 20 young girls from a local college hostage…The military confirmed the attack took place but said it was still assessing the number of casualties.”
The above was the lead paragraph in a Reuters’s story published a couple of days ago. The story’s screaming headline was: “Nigeria’s Boko Haram kill 51 in northeast attack.” Before this headline, there had been many such screaming headlines published by different media: “Gunmen kill 22 in Nigeria church attack: Witnesses”; “Attacks by extremists kill about 75 Nigerians”; “Nigerian gunmen attack toll reaches 85”; “Nigerian Muslim Cleric Opposed to Boko Haram Shot Dead.” And we can go on and on quoting screaming headlines that have assailed our ears since gunmen first laid siege to northern Nigeria. Does anybody even pay any attention to these headlines anymore? Anybody…the Federal government, the military, and the rest of us not directly affected by the carnage…do we pay any attention to these headlines anymore? Could it be that we don’t pay attention to these headlines because they have apparently screamed themselves hoarse? Or have we all just become inured to (and inoculated against) their potency?
But probably the one headline that should have bothered Nigerians the most was this from ThisDay newspaper: “Five Aircraft Razed as Boko Haram Attacks Maiduguri.” The paper reported on 03 December 2013 that the president was so perturbed by the brazen and gory nature of the attack that he called an emergency meeting of the Security Council. Erstwhile Chief of Defense Staff (CDS), Admiral Ola Sa’ad Ibrahim, Chief of Army Staff, Lt. Gen. Azubike Ihejirika and Chief of Air Staff, Air Vice Marshal Alex Badeh, (now CDS) along with National Security Adviser (NSA) Col. Sambo Dasuki (rtd) were in attendance. Soon after that meeting, the Air Force launched a few air sorties in the area, dropping a few bombs on what it thought were the enemies. Many of the bombs were so erratic they missed their targets by kilometers. Some hit “friendly forces” while others landed in open fields. The attacking insurgents disappeared into thin air almost effortlessly and our military retreated back to their barracks claiming what later amounted to nothing but Pyrrhic victory – the fact that it successfully drove the attackers away.
Drove the attackers away? That was part of the bragging statements issued by the Army as it went on a shameless victory lap around the mangled corpses of Nigerian Soldiers and the bloods of civilians, including those of innocent women and children, now mostly Muslims. It used to be that these attackers targeted Christians and their churches; and because of that, we attributed their attacks to part of Boko Haram’s quest to Islamize the whole of Nigeria. For a considerable length of time now, these attacks have been launched against Nigerians irrespective of religion, sect, age, ethnicity and gender. Commonsense should, by now, inform the collective wisdom of our highest military echelon to consider the possibility that these are probably no longer the original Boko Haram adherents we were fighting.
Our military “drove the attackers away”, turned around and came back home? And we are satisfied with that? What is wrong in following the attackers to whatever hole from where they came – Cameroon, Chad, or Niger – and finishing them off there? What is wrong in following the attackers, capturing those we can capture and bringing them back to our bases for interrogation? Believe me, if we subject these Prisoners of Wars (POWs) to internationally sanctioned interrogation techniques – those authorized by relevant Geneva Conventions articles and guaranteed to preserve the rights and dignity of the POWs – we will obtain actionable intelligence from them that would aid in our execution of this war. Instead, we allowed the attackers to retreat and re-group so they can fight us another day. We tucked our tails between our legs, scampered back to our bases and declared victory. And a few weeks later, the commander whose Air Force Base was so ravaged – Alex Badeh; the one whose subordinate personnel’s wives were carted away by the enemies in that bold attack, was rewarded with promotion to Chief of Defense Staff.
None of the senators who screened Badeh for the appointment had the good conscience to ask him where he was when the attack on the base occurred; what policies he had in place, as then Chief of Air Staff, to forestall the breach of his bases, and what policies he had since put in place to prevent another such attack. If the senators (led by David Mark, himself a former senior military officer) had had the gumption to ask the tough questions, they would have learned, for instance, that the Nigerian military is languishing in archaic war fighting equipment and doctrine. They would have learned that our Air Force did not have something as simple as up-to-date maps of our own country – maps which would have come in handy when trying to locate the enemy’s possible fortresses; maps showing all of our man-made and natural terrains that the enemies and our forces could use for cover, concealment and mobility. The senators would have found out that our Air Force had very limited serviceable and air-worthy fighter aircraft. They would have learned that because of the paucity of aircraft, only very few of our fighter pilots are well-trained in their jobs. And those who have the training may not even retain much of these perishable flying-and-fighting skills due to lack of regular sustainment training. Our senators would have learned that our Army still carries around moribund and often malfunctioning personal and crew-served weapons; that they move around in dilapidated Armored Personnel Carriers (APCs); that our Soldiers regularly run out of ammunition, petrol, food and other essential items in the middle of firefights. Our senators would have found out to their utter chagrins the nauseating fact that we are sometimes late in paying our Soldiers’ combat and deployment allowances; and that when they die in combat, we take forever in paying their gratuities to their families, thereby keeping morale at the lowest ebb.
Our senators might also have learned that our senior military officers do not understand the difference between conventional war (country vs. country) and Counter-Insurgencies (COIN) (country vs. insurgency) war. And what they do not know, they could not teach to their subordinates or supervise. The senators would have learned that we have probably been fighting an armed insurrection or an armed unconventional invasion (assuming these attackers are from neighboring Cameroon, Chad, or Niger) with the tools needed to fight a conventional war. Had our senators done their due diligence, they would have learned that our military and our intelligence agencies, especially the Directorate of Military Intelligence (DMI), lack the technical knowhow to emplace and employ ground/aerial, static/mobile, human/electronic intelligence collection capabilities that would greatly complement the efforts of our gallant Soldiers. (For example, we acquired for surveillance a couple of Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (UAV), otherwise known as Drones. But with what and whom are we coordinating the images we receive from these Drones?) Gallantry without effective fighting weaponry is nothing but suicide. Only when our Soldiers encounter unarmed civilians do their egos swell to match their menacing muscles. When faced with well-motivated hooded insurgents wielding Rocket-Propelled Grenade (RPG) launchers and vehicle-mounted 60mm machine guns, our soldiers scamper for cover. Had the senators asked the right questions, they would have known that without motivating and empowering our Soldiers with modern, up-to-date equipment, quality training, and rewarding pay, it is as if we have consistently tied their fighting hands behind their backs and sent them to battle to die.
This low-level war with insurgents has exposed the systemic rot in our military and we should wake up to our responsibilities. Unless we are deluding ourselves, Nigeria may not survive a full-blown invasion from one of its neighboring countries. At the minimum, we would suffer great losses in the hands of a determined foe. Ordinary bands of rag-tag fighters probe and infiltrate our borders at will (daytime, nighttime and evenings); they conduct successful attacks and then successfully retreat with minimal casualties. A few days later, they repeat the attacks with slight changes to their modus operandi, throwing our soldiers into confusion. Haba! These are textbook basic offensive tactics that have continued to make mincemeat of our so-called dreaded military. And any Nigerian Soldier worth his or her salt should be embarrassed to no end by this.
If we eschew politics, Goodluck Jonathan has no blame in this whatsoever. Because he was dissatisfied with their performances (and rightfully so) he sacked Admiral Ola Sa’ad Ibrahim and Lt. Gen. Azubike Ihejirika. To make it a clean sweep, he also sacked the Chief of Naval Staff, Vice Admiral Dele Ezeoba. While Badeh replaced Ibrahim, Ihejirika, and Ezeoba were replaced by Maj. Gen. Kenneth Minimah and Rear Adm. Jibrin Usman respectively. Air Vice Marshall Adesola Amosu slid into Badeh’s old seat as the Air Force’s Chief of Staff.
That is all one could expect of a civilian Commander-in-Chief – reinvigorating the military at the top with fresh hands in the expectation that the new appointees will inject the Force with a new sense of purpose, direction and motivation. Jonathan should not be expected to understand the minutiae of military Tactics, Techniques and Procedures (TTPs). In fact, he is probably as angry and as surprised as the rest of us that we have not beaten this insurgency scourge. Jonathan can only understand and approve what the military brasses put before him. And anyone with a scintilla of expertise in advanced military operations, not just rudimentary knowledge of how the military conducts successful operations, should know that the succession of military brasses have not served Jonathan well. They appear to me to have become either too obtuse and/or too impervious to designing radical changes to their TTPs.
So, as a matter of urgency, Chief of Defense Staff, Alex Badeh should begin to earn his rank and salary by immediately setting up for himself a Command Post (CP) in Maiduguri and temporarily move his office there. If anything, this would signal to all his subordinate commanders that he means business and it is no longer business as usual. This is war and it should be treated as such. It would also boost the junior Soldiers’ morale to knowing their overall boss is on the battlefield with them, not ensconced in Abuja drinking pepper soup. Badeh will now be able to see up-close what his Soldiers are facing and can effectively assess what they need in order to win the war. When he orders them to face death, he would be doing so with moral authority, not just rank authority. Badeh will see firsthand how a typical fellow Nigerian in Konduga lives his or her daily life and can then report same to Jonathan. Badeh will be able to go to the National Assembly (NASS) and to Jonathan to make a good argument why Nigeria needs to recruit more Soldiers. He would be able to convince the NASS to increase the defense budget, allowing for training in modern warfare, equipment, remunerations and emoluments for its personnel.
Finally, Jonathan will then be able to inform (not seek permission from) the leaders of Cameroon, Chad and Niger Republic; the African Union (AU) and the United Nations (UN), that henceforth, Nigeria would deal decisively with anybody or group of persons that violates its territorial integrity. Jonathan will mandate Badeh and his entire military leadership to employ the Powell Doctrine of maximum force each time any part of Nigeria is attacked. And, of course, with credible and actionable intelligence, superior equipment and a motivated military, Nigeria will meet its threat of lethal force with precision and deadly overwhelming delivery. This will serve as an effective deterrence to would be aggressors and fomenters or anarchy. This practice of watching whole families slaughtered in cold blood; of survivors gnashing their teeth, wailing and throwing themselves on the ground; and of our military and politicians throwing up their hands in total helplessness will then come to an end. And we would have our country back.
Abiodun Ladepo Los Angeles, California, USA Oluyole2@yahoo.com.
Source: SAHARA REPORTERS.
Chairman of the Niger Delta Nationalities Forum, Seigha Manager has said that the threat by members of the Northern Elders Forum (NEF)
to drag the former chief of army staff, Lt-Gen Azubuike Ihejirika to the International Criminal Court (ICC) at The Hague, clearly shows that they are the real sponsors of the Boko Haram Islamist sect.
Manager, who said President Goodluck Jonathan has done well to deserve a second term in office, also warned that any attempt by any person or group of persons to deny Jonathan the right to contest in 2015 will cause chaos in the polity.
In this interview, he speaks on a number of issues.
Do you think President Goodluck Jonathan has done well to deserve a second term in office?
I think he has done well and when you measure the performance of a person, you have to do that side-by-side with the performances of that nature within the same period. Everybody knows that former President Obasanjo spent his first four years in office from 1999 to 2003, traversing the whole world. Of course, you cannot blame him because Nigeria was a pariah country at the time. The CommonWealth of Nations had banned Nigeria when the former Head of State, late Gen Abacha killed Ken Saro-Wiwa. So, Obasanjo spent between 1999 and 2003 trying to get the rest of the international community to begin to now believe in Nigeria. If you look at the personnel that worked with Obasanjo at that time, you can remember people like Anenih, Ciroma, Danjuma and others.
These were people who are supposed to be fathers of minsters but they were the ministers then, so not much was achieved. In his second term, Obasanjo was able to sit down and that was when people like Ribadu, Okonjo-Iweala, Ezekwesili, El-Rufai and the rest of them came on board. They gave some light to his government and that was about two years to the end of his tenure. Of course, that was why he tried to come back through the failed third term project. When Yar’Adua took over from him in 2007, he also spent the first two years trying to sort out his personal health and at the same time trying to correct some of the wrong things he met.
So, Yar’Adua’s portfolio too was a very good one but when you look at Jonathan, you see the difference between a properly educated person and a politician. Jonathan is an academic. He started by ensuring that the right personnel work with him. So, you can see that a lot of technocrats are in his government. It takes quite a long time for serious planning. Somebody who wants to achieve must ensure he has good planning. Recall too that over $16 billion was spent for upgrading our electricity during the Obasanjo administration and all went down the drain. But, Jonathan has taken his time within the first two years to ensure that the first and most important thing was to repackage the Power Holding Company of Nigeria (PHCN). He has successfully done that; PHCN is now in the hands of private owners. So, Nigerians can, within the next six months, be sure of between 12 to 18 hours of uninterrupted power supply. And those are the things that will truly show that he has succeeded. Now, if you want to truly measure Jonathan, you must not do that by his person because he is an introverted person.
He is not the extroverted type that talks a lot about his achievements. He is a man who works through sectors. He is not a man who goes from house to house giving money to people, non-governmental organisations or groups making noise but a man who works through sectors. That is why his performance in the aviation sector is now visible. Nigerians can also see what is happening in the agricultural sector and people can criticise it. Nigerians can see that electricity is epileptic but it has shown progress. If you look at the transport sector, you now see clearly that a lot of gigantic work is being put in place. So, Jonathan is putting structures all over Nigeria and you must move from point A to B to know that he is actually doing something. But, those who sit where they are to say that nothing is happening are actually those who are just relying on secondary information. We also know another category of people who are saying that he has not done well. These are people who have been benefiting from the system in one way or the other but because some of the loopholes and leakages from where they benefited in the past have all been blocked, such people are now ploughing back the little money left with them into the press and making a lot of noise that he is not doing well. I can categorically tell you that one of the problems that Jonathan has is his information management machinery. Without prejudice to the minister of information, I think there is more that the minister can do because selling the president and his activities is a big job; far bigger than what any of the ministers is doing in his or her own personal ministry. It takes the minister of information to tell Nigerians what aviation, agriculture, defence, power, health, education and other ministries are doing.
Can you say that Jonathan’s government has really addressed the three basic needs of man –food, clothing and shelter for the average Nigerian?
This is one of the misconceptions that we have. Food, clothing and shelter are the primary needs of man and these needs ought to be provided at the third tier of government. The Federal Government is not supposed to be held responsible for the survival of Nigerians at the family level. What is the local government chairman doing? What is the state governor doing? Of course housing, yes, the Federal Government should have been directly involved in that but you also know the politics that come with housing in Nigeria. What Jonathan government is doing is to provide the atmosphere and not necessarily getting the Federal Government involved in providing housing because the Nigeria factor is always there.
Has government provided the enabling environment?
Yes, it has. Remember that when the former Housing minister, Miss Amah Pepple was there. What they spent all their time doing was to galvanise the mortgage industry and the banks to ensure that the ordinary Nigerian had access to mortgage loan, so that you can build for yourself rather than the Federal Government giving money to certain people and they would build houses that are not habitable.
But has that produced any result?
Successfully, what it has produced is a $300 billion loan from China. That is the result of what that has done. It started from Amah Pepple’s time and when the president went to China and the Chinese government saw the potentials in what the Federal Government was doing to provide housing, they became interested because that is what happens in China. In China, it is not the government that is building houses; it only provides mortgage and that is why a new mortgage re-financing was recently launched in Nigeria. The aim is to reach ordinary Nigerians. So, no Federal Government official will be holding any money and asking the whole of his town or village people to come and benefit. People will be benefiting through where they work, at the primary or secondary levels; through the local or state governments or as a federal worker. Providing that platform is the most important thing that we have always lost. In the past, a head of state or president will personally give it to his cronies and they will mess it up. Before you know what is happening, billions of money have gone to people without the structure succeeding. You recall that during the Abacha time, Lateef Jakande, who is renowned for providing shelter for his people in Lagos was the minister for Works and Housing. I was a civil servant then and we all contributed money towards the housing scheme but because the Federal Government was directly involved, the money never came and Jakande never built a single house. Those are the type of things that Jonathan is trying to avoid; that’s why I said he is working with experts in their various areas.
The Northern Elders Forum (NEF) has just threatened to drag the immediate past chief of army staff, Lt-Gen Azubuike Ihejirika to the International Criminal Court (ICC) for war crimes during the military onslaught on the Boko Haram insurgents in the North East. What is your take on that?
The Niger Delta Nationalities Forum as a group wants to say that Lt-Gen Ihejirika is not from the Niger Delta but he brought a lot of positive developments to the Armed forces and that is why Jonathan’s government has succeeded in curtailing the activities of Boko Haram to a small section of the North. We want to urge those who are masquerading as members of NEF to take Ihejirika to ICC at The Hague. We will be happy if they do so and we’ll also urge them to make their names known. They shouldn’t send their organisational name alone; they should also be bold to list all the members of that organisation to the ICC, so that we, in turn, will use that opportunity to know them and submit their names before the United Nations and the United States of America. Recall that America had already classified Boko Haram as a terrorist group . And Jonathan’s government has been battling the Boko Haram insurgents. From a N4.9 trillion budget, one trillion goes to security just to battle Boko Haram alone and Nigerians are the worst for it. Today, instead of praising Ihejirika who had successfully resticted the group to a very tiny area in the North, NEF is saying he committed crimes against humanity. If that is what they truly mean, we are prepared to submit their names before the UN as the sponsors of Boko Haram. We know very well that former President Babangida, former heads of state; Gowon and Abdulsalami Abubakar as well as Maitama Sule are not members of that group. So, if these renowned northern leaders are not part of such group, who then are those people who call themselves leaders of that group? We believe that they are the sponsors of Boko Haram and we want them to carry out that threat.
Former governor of Anambra State, Chief Chukwuemeka Ezeife recently added his voice to those who warned that Nigeria would boil if Jonathan is not allowed to contest the 2015 presidential election. How does your group see those threats or warnings?
As a group from the Niger Delta, we are appealing to Nigerians that as Niger Deltans, we have paid our dues. We have supported every government led by the northerners or westerners from independence to date. It is either by coincidence or accident that a Niger Delta person became the president of Nigeria and we thank all Nigerians for the opportunity. We also think that giving Jonathan another four years will not cause Nigeria any harm; it will only unite Nigeria further and give us a sense of belonging that we are also part of Nigeria.
However, if any group, in the name of NEF or whatever insists on denying Jonathan his fundamental human rights of contesting for a second term, we can assure them that the Niger Delta will not be part of that Nigeria which they think they will use our resources to project. In simple terms, if they do that, everybody is going to answer his own name. If Jonathan is allowed to contest the election like any other Nigerian and Nigerians as a people decide not to choose Jonathan in the polls, there is nothing anybody can do about that because Nigerians have spoken. It is who Nigerians want that will be the president of Nigeria. So, if Jonathan contests election and Nigerians refuse to elect him as the president, so be it.
By SUNDAY ANI
Source: Radio Biafra.
The apex Igbo socio-cultural organisation, Ohanaeze Ndigbo, has warned the Northern Elders Forum (NEF) to stop threatening former Chief of Army Staff, Lt.-Gen- Azubuike Ihejirika.
NEF threatened to sue Ihejirika at the International Criminal Court (ICC), The Hague, for alleged extra-judicial killings.
The forum’s spokesman, Prof. Ango Abudullahi, issued a communiqué, accusing Ihejirika and six others of alleged extra-judicial killings in Bama and Giwa Barracks in Borno State.
Reacting yesterday in Awka, Anambra State Chairman of Ohanaeze, Chief Chris Eluemunoh, described the threat as “an empty one, adding that attempt by anybody to embarrass Ihejirika would be resisted.
He said: “If they try it, they will meet fire. We have records of the atrocities committed against Ndigbo, but we keep quiet in the interest of our country.
“Let them try anything funny, they will see Ndigbo in their true colourS.”
Eluemunoh said the support of Ndigbo for President Goodluck Jonathan for a second term was not an open cheque.
Said he: “We are not thinking of an Igbo president next year. Our stand is that Ndigbo will support Jonathan for a second term.
“But he needs to talk with us and assure us of certain things, such as a second Niger Bridge, railway across the Southeast, especially in Onitsha, among others.”
The Abia State chairman of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), Senator Emma Nwaka, has expressed concern over the composition of the top echelon of the nation’s security agencies, saying the arrangement excluded the South- East zone.
He said that the composition of the top leadership of the security agencies tilted more to a particular section of the country and, therefore, called on President Goodluck Jonathan to look critically into the situation and redress it.
In a statement issued in Umuahia, the state capital, Nwaka said that it was not unlikely that the vacant position of the Minister of Defence would go to the North,
adding that “the offices of the Inspector- General of Police (IGP), National Security Adviser (NSA), Chief of Defence Staff, Commandant of the Nigeria Security and Civil Defense Corps (NDCDC) are occupied by people from one section of the country.”
He said: “It is important that the President and Commander in Chief of Armed Forces of Nigeria redress the anomaly at his earliest convenience because of the multi-ethnic diversity of our nation and the crisis of confidence and thrust among the ethnic groups.”
Nwaka, however, condemned the persistent killing of innocent people and burning of their houses in some parts of the Northern states by suspected Fulani herdsmen.
He said he was baffled that Northern elders had not found the situation grave enough to compel the Fulani herdsmen to stop their mindless clashes with their host communities across the country. Nwaka noted that the clashes had led and will continue to lead to avoidable loss of lives and property, if no drastic step is taken to stop the killings.
The PDP chairman said aside the Boko Haram insurgency, the next major security challenge the nation may face would arise from the mindless killings by the Fulani herdsmen unless the Federal Government and stakeholders took urgent steps to arrest the situation.
He allayed the fear by some people that the disengagement of Lt- Gen. Azubuike Ihejirika as the Chief of Army staff (COAS) would threaten the peace and security being enjoyed in Abia State. Nwaka said that there was no need for such fear as what was required for permanent security in the state had been put in place.
He said: “I want to assure our people that there is no cause for alarm. The Nigeria Army under the new COAS, Lt-Gen. Kenneth Minimah, and other security agencies will continue to partner the administration of Governor Theodore Orji to ensure that the robust security situation in our state will not be threatened.
Source: Radio Biafra.
A coalition of Northern and Igbo youths has cautioned the Northern Elders Forum on its call for Lt.-Gen. Azubuike Ihejirika’s trial at the International Crime Court (ICC).
It said the elders should not destroy the young generation with hatred, division and mistrust.
Addressing a joint news briefing in Abuja, the presidents of the Ohanaeze Ndi-Igbo Youth Organisation, Comrade Uzoh Ifeanyi and Northern Youth Leaders Assembly, Comrade Tijani Kabiru Mohammed, said the elders were seeking media attention and looking for the spoils of the political economy of their self-made crisis.
They said the feeling among Igbo youths was that the North could still not imagine that an Igbo man could head the Army, while northern youths were given the impression that an Igbo man commanded a troop to kill northerners.
“We the northern and Igbo youths have built bridges of fraternity and friendship and do not want anybody to lead us back to the hatred and bitterness of the civil war era.
“As Nigerians, we are united in search of a solution to our national challenges. It could be suffocating when wisdom vanishes from the heads of elders.
“We, the youth, have a duty to tell them that they are wrong and should stop. The country is yet to recover from the threats issued by some of them in 2011. We can hardly afford another crisis,” the youths said.
They condemned attempt by the elders forum to create tension, disunity, instability and hatred, urging them to stop inciting Nigerians against one another.
Source: Radio Biafra.
THE proposed plan by Professor Ango Abdullahi’s Northern Elders Forum to drag former Chief of Army Staff, Lt. General Azubuike Ihejirika, to the International
Criminal Court of Justice, ICC, in Hague over alleged killing of civilians at Baga town, Borno State, has drawn the ire of Ndigbo who have indicated interest to take Nigeria to the same court for the massacre of two million Igbo people during the civil war.
Prof. Abdullahi’s group had recently said that plans were in top gear to drag the former army chief and six others to ICC over their alleged involvement in the killing of innocent civilians at Baga, while the military engaged Boko Haram insurgents living in the midst of civilians.
But reacting to the alleged plan yesterday, Senator Uche Chukwumerije said that the purported plan to take the former COAS to ICC would be a good opportunity for the people of the South East and Anioma in Delta State to drag the country to the world court for the massacre of over two million Ndigbo during the Nigeria/Biafra civil war.
Chukwumerije, who was in-charge of Biafran Information during the war, said: “The plan of Northern Elders Forum to drag the immediate past Chief of Army Staff, Lt. General Azubuike Ihejirika, and six others to International Criminal Court of Justice in Hague is capable of unleashing a national ill-wind that will do no one (including Prof. Ango Abdullahi’s group) any good in this federation.
“The approach of the group to a national problem is selective, patently biased apparently in search of preconceived culprits, pointedly indifferent to the demands of national unity, and highly provocative to the sensibilities of all who genuinely desire the unity and stability of this federation.
Opening the Pandora Box
“As Ango Abdullahi’s team opens the doors and walks into the hall of the world court, let them realize that they have at last opened the Pandora’s Box.
“The indigenes of Odi, Zaki-Biam and Katsina Ala will in quick succession file into the hall. At the same time, Ndigbo of South East and Anioma will dust their files and head for Hague.
“Let it be emphasized ab initio that senseless sacrifice of a human life is indefensible. Violations of human rights have remained the bane of Africa. A society that has no respect for human life is nearer the status of a community of animals.
“But the situation in the universally acknowledged difficult terrain of a borderless war such as terrorism, counter terrorism and guerilla-like conflicts offers a unique challenge. The motives of Prof. Ango Abdullahi and co are obviously beyond concerns about violations of human rights.
“Every citizen (including Prof. Ango Abdullahi) knows that the anti-terrorism campaign in the North is a joint military operation under the command of the Chief of Defence Staff. In singling out Lt. General Ihefirika, the then Army boss, the likes of Prof. Ango Abdullahi are merely betraying old prejudices and embarking on a new hazardous search for bad names to hang hated dogs.
“Besides, the fact that Prof. Ango Abdullahi and co sprung into action immediately Lt. General Ihejirika and six others left their commands has revealed the depth of long-smoldering resentment of the campaign against Boko Haram by self-proclaimed leaders of the North.”
Baga and Hague adjudication
Senator Chukwumerije wondered why the Northern Elders Forum would single out the Baga incident for Hague’s adjudication.
He said further: “We have seen in the past cases of wholesale massacres which were not only more gruesome than Baga’s but proven as true unlike. Ango Abdullahi and co kept silent.
“There was the case of Odi in which a whole community was decimated. There was the case of Zaki-Biam. There was the case of Katsina Ala. If Odi did not arouse the conscience of Ango Abdullahi because the people do not belong to his hallowed Northern enclave, how about Zaki-biam and Katsina Ala?”
BY JOHNBOSCO AGBAKWURU & JOSEPH ERUNKE
Source: Radio Biafra.
Indications emerged on Friday that President’s choice of General Kenneth Minimah, as the new Chief of Army Staff may have been informed by the need to intensify the campaign against the insurgency in the north-eastern part of the country.Investigations by SUNDAY PUNCH showed that Minimah belonged to fighting corp of the army as an infantry general.His predecessor, Gen. Azubuike Ihejirika, belonged to the engineering corp.Those close to the new army chief, billed to take over the leadership of the army on Monday, said he was an effective general reputed to be a paratrooper even as a brigadier-general in the army.A military source, who spoke to our correspondent on the condition of anonymity, said the appointment ignited high expectations and anxiety among soldiers who had been worried by Boko Haram attacks on soldiers in Bama and Maiduguri.The source added that before the emergence of Minimah, the army was bitter as the service felt discouraged by the destruction of military formation and some barracks by the insurgents.The source stated further that the new army chief was expected to address the issue of the delay in the payment of operational funds to soldiers in the frontline.It was reported that the delay in the payment of such funds to soldiers was a major source of dampened morale in the army.The source argued that soldiers and other security operatives were unhappy with the delayed payment of the operational allowances for December.“I think Boko Haram is one of the major reasons; of course, there is need to address the problem of insecurity in the country.“There is the belief that with the establishment of the 7th Infantry Division of the Nigerian Army in Maiduguri, the operational funds, which were paid early in the month under the Joint Task Force, were delayed until the appointment of the present GOC.
The Northern Elders Forum (NEF) yesterday vowed to sue the immediate past Chief of Army Staff, Lt. General Azubuike Ihejirika and six others to the International Criminal Court of Justice (ICC) in the Hague over their alleged role in last year’s violence in Bama, and Giwa Barracks all in Borno State while battling members of the Islamic Terrorists sect, Boko Haram.
The NEF however, did not name the other six persons.
Meanwhile, a one day meeting of Northern Emirs ended in Kaduna last Thursday with the Emirs saying that there was a plot to further divide the north on religious and ethnic basis for the selfish end of some interest groups.
A statement signed by the Chairman of the NEF, Professor Ango Abdullahi made available to Saturday Vanguard in Kaduna
yesterday said that the former Army Chief and six others were to be charged for extra-judicial killings by soldiers in Bama.
According to NEF, the former Army Chief will also be charged with the other six for strangulation of civilians in Giwa Barrack, in underground detention centre.
Read part of the Communiqué: “It would be recalled that, the Northern Elders Forum had set up two committees of legal and security experts to investigate the details of the gruesome use of force against unarmed civilians in Bama and other parts of Borno State and forward appropriate recommendations.
“At our meeting in Kaduna on the 15th January, 2014, we received the reports of the two committees on Security and Legal Matters, regarding extra-judicial killings by soldiers in Bama and the act of strangulating civilians in Giwa Barracks using an underground detention centre, while depositing the corpses in hospital.
“The Forum has therefore resolved to harmonise the reports of the two committees, preparatory to filing a case of extra-judicial killings by the Nigerian Army under the then Chief of Army Staff, Lieutenant-General Azubuike Ihejirika and six others.
“The reports will be harmonised at our emergency meeting in Abuja on Wednesday, January 22nd ,2014 for further action”, the statement read.
Meanwhile, part of the comminque of the Northern Emirs observed:”That some interest groups are using religion and ethnicity to bring about divisions within the society to the detriment of the development of the nation.
“That some interest groups are putting undue pressure on traditional rulers to be partisan to the detriment of their position as fathers to all.
“That some divisive elements from within and outside the North are causing animosity and distrust amongst the different communities in the North thereby weakening the hitherto strong bond of unity that existed in the region before and during the first republic”.
By Luka Binniyat
Source: Radio Biafra.