Slippery Military, Spidery Terror

By Soni Ehi Asuelimen

The successful abduction of dozens of girls from a government technical school in Yobe a few days ago appears to confirm that a conspiracy of many people in government at state and federal levels, pretentious religious leaders and military command sympathisers of the doctrine and goals of the Boko Haram jihadist group will prolong sorrow, tears and blood for long.

Is it not strange that the abduction of secondary school girls in Chibok, some years ago, is repeated so easily with the Yobe state government and the military singing fraudulent tunes while the parents of the children and Nigerians wail in lamentation of what has become of their nation, Nigeria.

The Yobe government claimed it relied on the military statement ‎Friday, ‎February ‎23, ‎2018 that more than forty of the about 110 pupils were rescued only to find out that it was false.  The governor had to go to the concerned parents to apologise for the claimed misinformation, within 24 hours, signalling a depressive disconnection between state bureaucracy and security architecture, bordering on fraud to deceive the people, as it was the case with Chibok, Bornu state.

Indeed, the serial hoax death of Shekau, the Boko Haram chief terrorist, proclaimed by the military since the Jonathanian era, and the current military bounty placed on Shekau wanted dead or alive, indicates unprofessional and strange military propaganda, not different from political party propaganda. This is tragic for integrity of Nigerian military with international reputation for discipline.

In retrospect, Boko Haram egg of rebellion hatched during the administration of President Olusegun Obasanjo, a Nigerian civil war veteran. That was in 2001 shortly after the return to civil rule in 1999.

That was when PDP aspirants and subsequently candidates recruited mercenary thugs to harass out or totally eliminate opponents from political contestation in the North east states, in particular.

After winning governorship election, the administration reportedly paid the now jobless political thugs monthly N10 million, especially the Bornu state government under Senator Ali Modu Sherif during Obasanjo’s administration. With assault weapons used to depress or kill the opposition not withdrawn, the incubating Boko Haram hatched into protection gangs, wreaking havoc everywhere when the new government that took over from Sherif declined to pay N10 million monthly ransom to protect the state government from the embarrassment of massive terror murders.

The cowardice of the Obasanjo administration to protect the state from this terrorist blackmail by deploying the police or military, under exclusive federal control, to route the freshly hatched terrorists, is the price we pay today for the festering of terrorism, that may spread nationwide through  herdsmen terror.

During the Obasanjo administration, arrested killer Boko Haram terrorists were reportedly released without judicial trial by the security agents to traditional rulers and religious leaders in what they called jihad deradicalization and constructive disengagement from the terror sect. Many released terrorists were believed to have returned to their vomit.  Until a few days ago, less than a dozen of suspects arrested were prosecuted and convicted, while several hundreds were freed. Is it any wonder that the terror persists and festers?

Worse still, the federal government has in the past 10 years played the ostrich, burring its head in the sand of irresponsibility, pretending deafness to loud reports of military generals sympathetic to Boko Haram jihadist goals serving as moles releasing intelligence reports of troops movements to the enemy; selling weapons to Boko Haram to finish colleagues.

Sadly, some of the weapons were donated by foreign countries from which Nigeria sought further assistance but failed to get.

During the administration of ex-president Goodluck Jonathan, the Army Chief, General Ihejerika had sounded the alarm that one General Officer Commanding, General Isa, had deliberately refused act on intelligence report passed to him that the terror sect planned to attack the Military Academy in Jaji, Kaduna.

Instead, General Isa left for the Chief of Army Staff (COAS) conference in Asaba, Delta state without acting on the intelligence or telling his second in command to act. About 48 hours later, the terror sect struck, killing over 20 people, including one air force instructor, a general.

Indeed, soldiers mutinied on allegation that their commanders sold them out on death missions, wherein they were slaughtered in ambush, with many soldiers deserting. Not much was heard on the discipline or apprehension of such sabotaging officers.  With such cover up of criminality by moles in the military, is it any surprise that the terror sect is relentless and really on top of the situation, contrary to military and government propaganda?

While the Buhari administration is sourcing foreign funding to buy fighter jets for the Sambisa forest, teen suicide bombers kill and destroy every day in Bornu state capital Maiduguri and kidnapping for possible ransom in the urban areas.  In addition, the insurgents are daily initiating teenagers into bombing squads under the nose of security agencies and propagating divisive and terror doctrines in the urban areas, not in Sambisa forest.  Do we need fighter jet bombs to deal with these internal saboteurs?

Really, I am amazed at the linear thinking process of governments since 2001 when Boko Haram insurgency started waxing strong.  Worse still is that two military generals who prosecuted the Nigerian civil war, Obasanjo and Buhari would believe they could fight guerrilla war with conventional weapons, instead of adopting strategies to identify and deal decisively with the sabotaging  moles in the military and deploying public enlightenment campaigns, through the numerous and largely idle government broadcast media, to counter the religious misinformation that jihadists will go to heaven by committing mass murders.

Infact, how do you rationalise a father or mother training teenage children to be suicide bombers in the secrecy of their homes while military personnel are combing in futility the Sambisa forest?  How do you explain the claim of jihad when terrorists, pretending to be Allah’s foot soldiers, massacre worshippers in mosques?

Massacres in churches won the terrorists the support of morbid, irrational religious bigots, unfortunately also present in the military, serving as hideous moles feeding vital, classified intelligence information to the terrorists.

Is it any wonder that the same pattern of military personnel from vicinity of protected school in Chibok in 2014 and in Dapchi in Yobe in 2018 led to the kidnapping of school pupils.  Indeed, the similar kidnap pattern has fuelled speculations that the military is hand in glove with the terrorists for possible pecuniary gains, as many suspect kidnapping by terrorists has been upgraded to business of ransom taking.

What with the suspected several millions of dollars that has been doled out to rescue the Chibok girls of 2014, dozens still remaining held back as possible for prey extortion.  University of Maiduguri kidnapped lecturers were released recently by Boko Haram after hefty ransom was dished out by the   no nonsense Buhari administration. With the Boko Haram splinter group of al Barnawi fingered as being responsible for the kidnap of the Dapchi girls, then Nigerians should be prepared for a mushrooming of rogue terrorist groupings encouraged by ransom payments.

It is instructive that federal government has set up a panel over Dapchi kidnap. To what extent will a largely military panel expose and deal with military moles and suspected conspirators and apportion blames to genuine culprits? Time will tell.

Soni Ehi Asuelimen wrote via    08023459055