No fewer than 15 senior military officers including 10 generals have been tried before a court-martial and found guilty of giving information and ammunition to Boko Haram terrorists.
In the recent past, the Army and the Defence headquarters have raised the alarm that some of their officers and men are leaking official information to the terrorists and that some of them have been arrested and arraigned before some court-martials in some army divisions in the north.
Military sources told LEADERSHIP that some of them who were tried at their division levels still have hope until the final review of the judgement at the headquarters in Abuja.
“There are a lot of arrests that have been made over some officers who were sabotaging the ongoing counter-insurgency operations. The suspects include about 10 generals and other ranks, not to talk of soldiers who have been found culpable of sabotaging our operations. They are facing trial before court-martials set up by their divisions; some have been found guilty, and some are still facing trial. Once the court martial rule, the recommendations are forwarded to the Army Headquarters or Defence Headquarters as the case may be,” a source disclosed.
Another top security source told our correspondent that four senior soldiers were found guilty of being disloyal and for working for the members of the sect.
“Four generals have been court-martialed for divulging high-class security information to the members of the sect. They were found guilty of leaking military strategies to the Boko Haram people. This was why many soldiers have been ambushed and killed by the Boko Haram,” the source added.
Our source who could not disclose the names of these generals simply said some senior military officers and soldiers from a particular section of the country are deeply involved in the treasonable acts.
“They have been found guilty of also collaborating with some top politicians in the country to make the country ungovernable for selfish reasons. A lot of re-organisation is going on in the military. Many generals will go. Some will be court-martialed and some will be forcefully retired,” he added. “The movement of our troops in the north-east have been leaked to the Boko Haram by many of our colleagues, but the Defence headquarters has realized that and is seriously considering redeployment of some senior officers out of the north-east.”
The army had, on Sept. 19, 2013, said its 3 Division had set up a general martial court to try erring officers and soldiers.
During a press briefing, the then director, army public relations, Brigadier General Ibrahim Attahiru, said the new court would instil discipline and professionalism among its troops based on Army Headquarters’ directives.
The court under general commanding officer Ebiobowei Awala was inaugurated on April 22 at Rhino Officers Mess, Maxwell Khobe Cantonment, Jos, and has tried nine soldiers for various offences ranging from murder to manslaughter.
But it was not clear at the time of fielding this report whether the generals were court -martialed by the same court.
Although efforts to confirm from the Defence Headquarters’ spokesman, Major General Chris Olukolade, did not yield any result, a top serving general in the DHQ said a lot of trials were indeed going on: “A lot is happening. Those suspected are being tried, and this is why it is difficult to confirm or deny the story. But whenever the final verdicts are taken on these trials, the press would be briefed by the appropriate officers.”
#BringBackOurGirls protesters dare CP Mbu over ban on protest
FCT commissioner of police Mr Joseph Mbu has placed a ban on all protests calling for freedom for the abducted Chibok schoolgirls in the territory.
Mbu made the announcement yesterday during a news conference where he said that the trend of the protests in the FCT constituted a serious security threat.
According to Mbu, information at the disposal of the command indicated that “dangerous elements’’ were planning to hijack the protests which, he said, informed the ban.
“As the FCT police boss, I cannot fold my hands and watch this lawlessness (protests). Information reaching us is that, too soon, dangerous elements will join groups under the guise of protest and detonate explosives aimed at embarrassing the government.
“People have been protesting for over a month now. It is the issue of terrorism; it is not solved in one day. Then, when you continue to do it persistently, it becomes a nuisance to the government. Accordingly, protests on the Chibok schoolgirls are hereby banned with immediate,” he said.
Mbu said that after a group under the aegis of “Bring Back Our Girls” protested on April 28, another group, “Release Our Girls”, emerged.
The police boss said that a situation where the “Fountain of Unity”, venue of gathering for the protests, was being turned into a place for “cooking and selling” was embarrassing.
Mbu, who lamented that many diplomats live in that area of the FCT, called on the people of the territory to encourage the security agencies in the war against terrorism and criminality by appreciating the sacrifices the security agencies had made and would continue to make.
Asked whether the ban would not violate freedom of expression and assembly, the commissioner said that one person’s freedom should not affect another person’s freedom.
The commissioner also announced the revocation of permit earlier issued for tinted glass vehicles in the territory.
“There is a period when permit was granted but the recent security challenges have made the police authority to revisit the issue and have resolved to revoke same. The permit issued so far remain revoked. You are hearing this from my mouth, the FCT police boss. The only authority to grant tinted glass permit is the inspector-general of police himself, under his hand and signature,” he said.
Meanwhile, the FCT CP has also announced the sack of all divisional police officers in the FCT, directing them to hand over to the next senior police officer in their respective divisions. The command spokesman, DSP Altine Daniel, told newsmen that the decision was taken after the commissioner met with the DPOs yesterday.
Mbu’s no-rally directive: we are not deterred, we will continue, group says
The Bring Back Our Girls campaign group has stated that it is not deterred by the directive of the FCT commissioner of police, Mbu Joseph Mbu, banning rallies in the city.
Media coordinator of the group Rotimi Olawale, in an interview, stated that the group cannot be denied having rallies because it has the constitutional right to meet at any place it wants to, adding that it will still continue until the Chibok girls abducted over a month ago are brought back alive .
“We understand that the government is concerned about its image and that is the reason we are asking it to bring the children back. That is what we want,” he said.
Lawyers fault Mbu, say he lacks powers to ban protest
But some lawyers have faulted the directive by Mbu, saying that the Nigeria Police lacks the constitutional power to ban protest by Nigerians
The lawyers including Malam Abaubakar Malami (SAN), Prof Awa Kalu (SAN), Mr Ahmed Raji (SAN), Mr Fred Agbaje, Mr Festus Keyamo and Mr Bamidele Aturu described the development as an embarrassment to the country and an affront to the rule of law.
The lawyers spoke during separate interviews with LEADERSHIP yesterday.
Malami said, “It is a clear infringement on the rights of the protesters to express themselves. The rights to organise a peaceful protest is guaranteed by the 1999 Constitution.”
Kalu said, “Protest is part of the provisions of the 1999 Constitution. The ban is not healthy for our democracy at all. They have the right to stage a protest if they are aggrieved. The ban is an infringement on the rights of the protesters.”
Raji said, “The security of the country is very important at this moment. Individuals have the rights to protest but when such protest threatens the security of the country, the authorities have the right to take some steps to ensure that there is no breakdown of law and order.”
Agbaje : “This kind of proclamation is unconstitutional. It is an affront on the constitutional right of Nigerians to expression. Any Public Act provision purportedly being acted upon by the police in making this order is an affront to both the rights of every Nigerian to movement and expression. That kind of order can only be tolerated under a military government. No law can justify the order and it must be withdrawn immediately.
“This order is an embarrassment to the federal government and it can further lower the government in the eyes of the international community that is collaborating with them to rescue the adopted girls. It is now clear to all that the federal government is neck-deep in the Boko Haram crisis.”
Aturu said, “The news is unbelievable. It’s unbelievable because it cannot work and it is very embarrassing to Nigerians because, at a time like this when the government should be at the forefront of the efforts to protect the rights of the citizens, they are demonstrating that they don’t even understand the rights.
“The order should also be an embarrassment to the federal government and the police because it is a mockery of our democracy. No one can determine for Nigerians when to protest, where to protest, as long as it is a peaceful one. I hope this evil directive will be reversed and the police commissioner called to order immediately.”
Keyamo said: “It is shocking that the federal government, hiding under the facade of the police, has finally openly displayed its disdain for the public outcry over the kidnap of those innocent souls. The federal government would really have wished that we all went about our normal businesses and live in denial like it did for many weeks.
“The government has shown that it is more concerned about its image and self-preservation than the safety of those girls. This is the height of irresponsibility and insensitivity to the plight of the Chibok girls and their family members. At a time when government has not shown a capacity to protect lives and properties, it is even denying the citizens the basic right to cry out about government’s inaction. It is like beating a child mercilessly and choking the child at the same time to prevent the child from crying out. It is inhuman, it is degrading and it is humiliating.”
OIC labels Boko Haram outlaws, anti-Islam
The Organisation of Islamic Countries (OIC) declared yesterday that members of the Boko Haram sect are a gang of criminal outlaws who have been misrepresenting the Islamic religion with gory activities that are anti-Islam in Nigeria.
Secretary-general of the OIC Eyad Ameen Madani made the organisation’s position known when he led a 57-member delegation to pay President Goodluck Jonathan a condolence visit over the wanton killings by the insurgents.
He said the organisation was also in Nigeria to suggest to the president certain things it could do to support the country and express its willingness to be actively involved in the war against the terrorist group.
Madani said one concrete support Nigeria should expect from OIC is that since the Boko Haram crisis was multi-dimensional, OIC could be involved in many ways, including “first to declare its position morally from the religious point of view”.
Labelling Boko Haram as a gang of criminal outlaws who are misrepresenting Islam with anti-Islamic activities, he said: “We are also here to express our solidarity with Nigeria in facing up to this terrorist organisation and to condemn all terrorist acts they have been committing, and to show our condolences to the Nigerian people, to the families of those who were affected.
“The OIC has issued statements that we are very clear that these people are outlaws; what they do is criminal act. It has absolutely nothing to do with Islam, Islamic teachings, the religion of Islam, the history, the culture, the civilisation of Islam, and we should identify them for what they are: a terrorist group.”
Noting that the delegation of OIC led by him discussed the organisation’s vision and its priorities in the years to come, the OIC secretary general clarified that the conference is not a religious organisation but a political one with 57 member-states that are represented in the conference as a government.
Madani hinted further that OIC informed Jonathan of the need for Nigerian authorities to organise or allow inter-faith forums to tap into Africa’s rich history of religious tolerance in order to clear the air on unverifiable claims that suggest religious bigotry.
“Nigeria is a member of OIC at the government level; so is Indonesia, so is Senegal, Saudi Arabia, amongst others,” he said. “We will convene an inter-faith dialogue, because we feel that there is a lot to be said about the veracity of these claims, and to show the many aspects of similarities and living together between not only Christians and Muslims but between all faiths and convictions.”
Explaining that Africa was a model of such tolerance, and its history a history of tolerance, of living together, he said the OIC through its different organs are available to the request of the federal government and would do all it can to help in alleviating the social and economic conditions in any areas affected by the activities of insurgents.
On his part, foreign affairs minister Aminu Wali, who followed the delegation to visit the president, said the support of OIC which is indicative of the organisation’s willingness to come to the aid of member-states was a welcome development for Nigeria.
13 killed as gunmen, villagers battle in Gwoza
At least 13 people comprising nine Christian worshippers and four suspected Boko Haram gunmen were reportedly killed in a village in Gwoza local government area of Borno State as the gunmen and local residents engaged in a life-or-death battle, eyewitnesses and security officials said.
The Christian worshippers were killed during a Sunday service in Antagara village, near Gwoza town.
The attack came barely 24 hours after the burial of the Emir of Gwoza, Idrisa Timta, who was assassinated by the Boko Haram gunmen on Friday.
During the burial, three suspected Boko Haram members were nabbed by the local youth vigilante when the gunmen armed with RPG and AK 47 were planning attack on the town at the time the state governor Kashim Shettima and other top dignitaries were busy attending the burial of the assassinated monarch.
The Sunday attack on worshippers appeared to be a reprisal attack by Boko Haram gunmen angered by the arrest of their members on Saturday.
Witnesses said some armed men stormed a church at Attangara village in Gwoza LGA and opened fire on worshippers while the Sunday service was going on at about 9:30am.
In anger over the attack on the hapless worshippers, the members of community mobilized and went after the gunmen.
“The attack occurred at EYN Church (Church of Brethren, Nigeria) while the service was going on,” said a fleeing resident called Miss Martha. “Our church has some men as security group. They usually keep vigilance on the church especially when service is going on. As we were holding service, we started hearing gunshots and everybody fled, some through the windows and ran into a bush. Some whose houses are near the church also ran to their houses. Men in the community immediately mobilised and pursued the Boko Haram men. They were more than 10; they came with motorcycles and a car. Our vigilante killed four of the Boko Haram and arrested three. I later discovered nine of our men in the church security group were shot dead. I left Attangara yesterday afternoon, slept at Gwoza to get to Maiduguri today.”
A top security person who pleaded anonymity confirmed the incident, even as the state police command has not issued any statement in respect of the attack.
Borno indigenes worry over abduction of more girls, women in Borno
Borno indigenes in the FCT are worried over the continuous abduction of girls and women by Boko Haram terrorists in the state even after the abduction of the Chibok girls.
Speaking in an interview during the sit-out of the Bring Back Our Girls group at Amusement Park, Maitama, one of the indigenes, Dr Fatima Zama Gana, stated that they had heard about another abduction of innocent women in Banki, Borno State, and its environs and the trend has become a cause of worry for them.
“Two days ago, we got a frantic call from one of the abducted women and she was talking in the Hilux van that gunmen stormed the place and picked up women from different settlements in Banki on the farm and in the market. As at that time, she was with her phone because they were many and were not searched. She was talking to her relation in Abuja that they were at the Gamboru-Ngala road. The abductors started raining insult on her and that was the last they heard from her. They pick women randomly. From her group, she said that they were about 20,” she said.
Another, Yusuf Sheriff Banki, decried the suffering of his people who are not only scared of their lives but are also facing scarcity of food and drugs for themselves.
“They can’t go to farm any longer because they are scared of being raped, kidnapped or killed. Food is rather expensive there now. They are suffering, not having drugs and food. No channels of supplying food there. Dangote is no longer supplying food there. Other vendors have stopped theirs,” he said.
No security in place in Chibok – foreign journalist
A journalist from Marie Claire, France, Manon Querovil, who travelled to Chibok recently, has stated that there was no form of security in Chibok, the place where over 200 girls were abducted on April 14.
Querovil, who spoke to the Bring Back Our Girls campaign group, stated that her journey to Chibok was a tedious one with checkpoints on the road and added that there was no form of security when they got to the Chibok village.
“The most striking thing is that there is no security in Chibok and since they are living close to the forest the insurgents can come freely and strike,” she said.
Nigeria has withdrawn peacekeeping troops from Mali – Mark
The president of the Senate, David Mark, on Monday said the activities of Boko Haram insurgents had compelled government to withdraw its peacekeeping troops from Mali.
He made the remark at a two-day retreat on Nigeria’s foreign policy jointly organised by the Senate Committee on Foreign Affairs and the Nigerian Institute of International Affairs in Lagos.
The Senate president said Boko Haram insurgency had become a major challenge to Nigeria’s efforts at forging relationships with her French-speaking neighbours.
“The activities of Boko Haram insurgents are beginning to affect Nigeria’s foreign policy,’’ said Mark, represented by his chief of staff, Sen. Anthony Manzo.
He held that any government’s foreign policy was an extension of its domestic policy.
How Borno co-funds fight against Boko Haram – SSG
The Borno State government has disclosed that though it received only N200m contribution from the federal government since 2011, it has invested over N10bn in procurement of armoured personnel carriers, patrol vehicles, hundreds of trailers of petroleum products, provision of material logistics and intervention in the area of accommodation to support security agencies in the fight against Boko Haram insurgency, secretary to the Borno State government Ambassador Baba Ahmed Jidda said in an interactive session with journalists before he left Lagos at the weekend.
Jidda said the state had earlier decided not to make public its expenditures on the fight against Boko Haram because Governor Kashim Shettima always restrained officials in order not to be viewed as embarrassing the federal government since funding security falls under the exclusive legislative list which makes it a constitutional obligation of the FG.
Jidda said the governor reversed his position given a series of allegations levelled against the state by mischief-makers, part of which is a claim that the state was not supporting the military.
He said, “First of all, let me say we were pushed into making public these things I am about to say. For three years, we dealt with these challenges without any noise, since the government was doing it for Borno people. Some people are being made to assume that a certain security vote is provided to state governments; this is not true. No state gets a dime from FAAC as security vote. Every state makes its own budget it intends to spend from its own normal allocations for security, not that external funds from the federal government accrues to any state.
“For us in Borno, we have spent over N10billion in the last three years to support security agencies in the counter-insurgency. This doesn’t include our losses. We have lost thousands of citizens and, in terms of material loss, we might be talking in tens of billions. And, in all of these, Borno has received only N200m from the federal government as support; we have been co-funding the security that is the exclusive preserve of the federal government.”
Police begin counter-terrorism mass campaign
The Nigerian police have commenced an extensive counter-terrorism mass campaign as part of the strategies lined up in the ongoing war against terrorism.
Force public relations officer CSP Frank Mba made this known during a media briefing during which he said the campaign would witness massive distribution of information, education and communication (IEC) materials across all strata of the Nigerian society.
According to Mba, the inspector-general of police, Mohammed Abubakar, called on Nigerians to partner with the force in the counter-terrorism enlightenment campaign (CEC), saying that the campaign is expected to be sustained until every citizen of Nigeria is well informed of their responsibilities in this age of terrorism.