THE military has disclosed that there are some sympathisers of Boko Haram sect in its midst. Azubuike Ihejirika, chief of army staff, who revealed this, warned officers and soldiers to stop fraternising with the enemies of the state. Ihejirika alleged that some military men have been leaking information to the Boko Haram insurgents, who the military is battling in three Northeast states of Adamawa, Borno and Yobe. “I want to state that any officer or soldier caught linked one way or the other will be disciplined severely, there are no two ways about it,” he said.
Ihejirika, while issuing the warning, revealed that the attack on a Mali-bound military convoy in Kogi State in January this year was caused by the leaking of information on the movement of the troops to the insurgents. Two soldiers were killed in the ambush on 190 troops who were travelling through Kogi State enroute Kaduna on their way to Mali on January 19.
The Jama’atu Ansarul Musilimina Fi Biladis Sudan, JAMBS, or Vanguard for the Aid of Muslims in Black Africa, a splinter group of the Boko Haram claimed responsibility for the attack, saying it was in response to Nigeria’s participation in the military intervention in Mali. JAMBS, which broke out of Boko Haram in June 2012, is believed to have close ties with Islamist groups in North Africa and Mali.
According to Ihejirika, a suspect, who is a soldier, has been detained and waiting for court martial in connection with the leakage.
The army chief who spoke at the opening ceremony of a three-day Army Transformation Seminar in Abuja, said: “Let me use this opportunity to warn officers and soldiers who indulge in giving out information both from Army Headquarters and other formations. Certain vital information had one way or the other worked negatively in our operations. There are also some other soldiers that have been found posting negative comments in the internet and also some who have been engaging in conversation with the insurgents.”
Leaking of information to insurgents is not peculiar to the military alone. Early this month, the police arrested one of its men for allegedly leaking the information that led to the ambush and killing of security agents who were on a mission to arrest some suspected cultists in Nasarawa State. No fewer than 55 security agents were killed in the attack. Sometime ago, President Goodluck Jonathan also had cause to allege that Boko Haram men had infiltrated his cabinet.
That Presidential Order
Mixed reactions have continued to trail the decision of President Goodluck to Jonathan to release some members of the dreaded Boko Haram, an Islamic fundamentalists sect engaged in a military action in three northern states. Arewa elders have commended the president for ordering the release of some members of the families of Boko Haram suspects. It, however, appealed to the federal government to allow human rights monitors into the three states where emergency rule was declared in order to assess the extent of the military campaign.
The Board of Trustees and national executive council of Arewa Consultative Forum, ACF, presided over by Jeremiah Useni, retired lieutenant general and chairman of the trustees, at a meeting in Kaduna on Wednesday, May 22, called on the military not to use excessive force while carrying out its assignment. The two had held a joint meeting to x-ray the extent of military operations in the three northern states of Adamawa, Borno and Yobe since the state of emergency was declared.
The Christian Association of Nigeria, CAN, on its part, has opposed the planned release of the Boko Haram suspects from detention, saying government’s decision to free the suspects was like giving them the “license to carry out more suicide bombings.” Addressing the press in Makurdi, Yiman Orkwar, bishop and chairman of the Benue State chapter of the body said on Wednesday, May 22: “if those who deliberately killed innocent people are given freedom to walk the streets without punishment, then it is a clear indication that Nigerians have no nation.” The Bishop appealed to President Jonathan to withdraw his directive on the suspects’ release, saying such action would further escalate the security situation in the region.
The Presidency, on Wednesday, made clarifications on the release of persons detained in connection with the activities of Boko Haram insurgents. Doyin Okupe, senior special assistant to the president on Public Affairs, in a statement, said the suspects would be released in phases. He said the first batch of suspects to be released would be women and children who were detained on suspicion of involvement or in connection with insurgency in some parts of the country.
According to him, the phased release of detainees will encourage other insurgents who may wish to embrace the peace option to come out and take advantage of the process. “This would be followed by other phased releases where cases would be treated on their individual merits by the Defence authorities and security agencies,” Okupe said.
He said the president’s directive on the detained suspects was based on the interim report by the Presidential Committee on Dialogue and Peace in northern Nigeria. The committee, he said, recommended the measure as part of government’s multi-faceted strategy to solving the security challenges posed by the activities of the Boko Haram sect.
President Jonathan had given the order for the release of some of the suspects on Monday, May 22, the on recommendation of the Presidential Committee on Dialogue and Peace in northern Nigeria.
Up Against Amaechi
FOR Governor Chibuike Amaechi of Rivers State, the storm is not yet over. The opposition against his administration is gathering a momentum. On Wednesday, May 22, some youths and ex-militant leaders stormed the state Government House, demanding the resignation of the governor.
The protesters, who carried placards and singing war songs, asked Amaechi to explain how he managed the N1.6 trillion that he had collected on behalf of the state since he assumed office. Among the protesters were militant leaders such as Ateke Tom, Solomon Ndigbara and Nature Kiegse. Some of them wore T shirts and carried placards with inscriptions, ‘Amaechi must go,’ ‘Amaechi, Who owns the jet?’ and ‘Amaechi, you constructed one kilometre road with N1.5bn.’ The protesters occupied the streets, chanting war songs and caused traffic gridlocks while security operatives watched them in bewilderment.
Joshua Ihunwo, one of the leaders of the state assembly, who joined the protest march, said it was meant to seek clarification of the two aircraft purchased by Peter Odili, former governor. Ihunwo said it was also to know how the revenue received by the state since 2007 had been spent and why a kilometre of road was constructed at N1billion. “What is happening today is just like the Arab Spring. We will occupy Port Harcourt until Amaechi leaves office. We want an explanation from him on how he managed the N1.6tn that came to the state as revenue since he became governor,” the legislator said.
Ibim Semenitari, the state commissioner for Information and Communication, said the government would not join issues with people perceived to be “miscreants.” Semenitari said that though the state government had been transparent in its dealing with the people, the majority of those in the protest were people without any locus standi to speak on such issues. “Though we do not think the state government should join issues with these protesters, it is necessary to say the state government is transparent in its dealings with Rivers people,” she said. Since April, the state has been witnessing protests either in support or against the Amaechi administration.
Jonathan’s Loyal Bride
EAST, West, North, South, all are supposed to be home to a Nigerian president. But apart from the South-South where he has his roots, President Goodluck Jonathan seems to have also found love in the South-East. On Saturday, May 10, when he visited Enugu, Enugu State, Jonathan did not mince words when he declared: “Sincerely, I thank my brothers and sisters from the South-East for the sincere support you have given to me since I indicated interest in national politics. I started as a vice president and until today, I have had the strongest support from the South-East. I have to thank you for that and I remain grateful and I want to tell you that I am part and parcel of you and I will continue to remain so even after serving Nigeria.”
For the loyalty of the South-East, the president announced a package of goodies for infrastructural facelift for the region. At a town hall meeting held with dignitaries in the region, the president announced a package of N158 billion to be spent on projects targeted at addressing the infrastructural imbalance in the zone. Projects to benefit from the presidential package include the second Niger Bridge in Onitsha, Anambra State, solution to ecological and erosion problems, roads, electricity and others.
From the largess, N30 billion has been earmarked from the Sure-P funds to be expended on the second Niger Bridge, while N60 billion will go into comprehensive solution to ecological and erosion problems in the region, and the remaining N68 billion will be spent on other infrastructural projects such as roads, water and electricity among others. To crown it all, the president also approved the establishment of a Free Trade Zone for the South-East to complement services at the Akanu Ibiam International Airport, Enugu, which is being remodelled. The president also laid the foundation for the new international terminal of the airport.
The president’s largess seemed to have been prompted by the leaders of the zone who had confronted him with a catalogue of demands. Speaking on behalf of stakeholders in the zone, Governor Peter Obi of Anambra State presented the Jonathan with a list of requests which included all that the Presidential had eventually answered.
Compiled by Olu Ojewale
— Jun. 3, 2013 @ 01:00 GMT