How To End Boko Haram Insurgency By Lt Col Sagir Musa
Sharing her experience of visiting “Boko Haram torn Maiduguri” in an article – “Inside the lion’s den of Nigeria’s Boko Haram”, the 2009 co-recipient of the silver prize from the United Nations Foundation, rewarded for her work in the Democratic Republic of Congo and also the face of Aljazeera English in West Africa – the indefatigable and ebullient Yvonne Ndege narrated a story of her five days in Maiduguri – the epicenter of violence perpetrated by the armed group Boko Haram.
She was sharp and succinctly objective about the situation in Maiduguri in her article -some parts reads – “During my five days there, I found Maduguri under siege by Boko Haram fighters and the Joint Task Force. The city has been enmeshed in road blocks, checkpoints and sandbags on virtually every major road and intersection. The city was patrolled by heavily armed military personnel donning ski masks, poised to fire at any moment”.
She was perfectly right, for there were/are road blocks, checkpoints and guard duty posts strategically located in identified flash points or red spots in different locations in Maiduguri. Such strategic locations are usually reinforced with sandbags to serve as cover, protection or parapet from terrorist fire. What Yvonne failed to observe and report was the checkpoints and roadblocks were not sporadic or wide spread as to cover all the nooks and crannies of Maiduguri metropolis.
Areas without static deployment are often covered with mobile patrols. And that in terrorist environment, no amount of troops’ presence can guarantee ideal security since terrorists always maximize the use of surprise to circumvent counter measures. Even though there are road blocks, checkpoints, guards, poor detection devices and mobile patrols the elements of surprise can still be employed to overwhelm the human factor and undermine the hard ware in a fortified security system.
Time, as is said, is the terrorist’s best friend and even a well protected and hardened target will experience slackened security measures during long periods of terrorists’ inactivity. Unless a suicide attack is planned, terrorists will want to strike when security is laxed. That might explain many terrorists’ attacks in several places in Nigeria and Borno State in particular. Hence, troops are trained to be more watchful during terrorists’ inactivity. My concern is strongly about the incessant callous, brutal, barbaric and impious killings of people in some states of the North -Eastern parts of Nigeria particularly in Maiduguri. More worrisome is the inhuman way the terrorist perpetrates their dastardly acts ranging from outright shootings, macheting and slaughtering of their victims using knives and sometimes saw machines from the back of the victims’ necks till the heads are severed. In some cases, victims’ throats were savagely slashed.
Recall, in April 2012, seven persons were in the day time shot dead in Monday Market. In July 2012, nine construction workers working at Shehu of Borno’s Central Mosque were massacred, 2 Indians shot dead in their factory and a suicide bomber strapped with explosives detonated bombs very close to the Shehu of Borno and the Deputy Governor of Borno State immediately after the Friday congregational prayer; – five people lost their lives, four civilians and two soldiers were seriously injured.
Similarly, three security guards in Gombaru ward, a respected elder statesman retired Maj Gen Muhammadu Shuwa and a business mogul Alhaji Girgir were in the day time separately shot dead at different locations in Maiduguri metropolis, so also five people were recently slaughtered in Musari community located at the outskirt of Maiduguri. Many security personnel lost their lives through IEDs and ambushes perpetrated by Boko Haram Terrorists. The IEDs were buried in the middle of or by the road sides and detonated on the unlucky mobile JTF’s troops on sight. These killings mainly occurred in the day time with many committed in the markets, worship centres and in family homes.
Unfortunately, unlike in Kano, Azare, Birnin-Gwari, Rigasa, kuru areas of kano, Bauchi, Kaduna and Plateau States, all these obnoxious and sacrilegious acts, all this savagery have elicited not a single passive or active resistance from the locals who most times witnessed when these inhuman acts were committed. What I routinely hear is the hollow, emotive and baseless accusations against those that are daily staking their lives for the sake of the nation. It is normal that in an effort to stem crime and criminality, some communities in Nigeria have since devised neighborhood surveillance, alarm system and other resistance measures to assist themselves and security agencies in combating insecurity in their respective domains.
This aspect is totally lacking in most crises pruned states of North Eastern Nigeria, particularly in Borno State. Therefore, there is the need to remind the local communities to rise to the daunting challenge, to henceforth resolve to resist attempts to annihilate their communities by pre-empting terrorists acts by way of giving timely and accurate information to security agencies and where possible to actively react to this madness since the Task Force/ security agencies cannot be everywhere at the same time. Just yesterday, while briefing newsmen in Owerri, the Commissioner of Police Imo State said – “A retired police officer, who resides in Owerri, was arrested for armed robbery on 29 December, 2012… He was caught red handed when he broke in to the home of his victim with a loaded locally made double barrel gun; his supposed victim disarmed him and quickly raised alarm that attracted his neigbours”.
This feat can be replicated anywhere especially where there is putative religious and conscientious commitment amongst the people. I, therefore, posit that whatever the case, combating Boko Haram’s insurgency will require military, political and communal solutions. The military’s role is simply to restore law and order, protect lives and properties of citizens and to create an enabling environment for political solution to take place which the JTF has creditably achieved. JTF’s presence and what it has been able to achieve is based on the premise that the government has the capacity to checkmate the activities of Boko Haram Terrorists and crush them where they are all out to confront the Government/security forces.
Once an enabling environment has been created, concurrent actions should take place with the aim of bringing the menace to an end. Hence, it is my personal view that the time for political solution to the insurgency maybe now and the security agencies must remain in a staging position to act decisively and appropriately whenever the need arise. On the other hand, the communities have a lot to do in the area of giving timely and credible information and to stop youths from being recruited in to the group; otherwise Boko Haram’s terrorism will linger for a long time. All forms of litany will not solve the insurgency, except concerted, coordinated, selfless efforts and resolve of the Government, citizens and the security agencies.
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