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Is Gov. Zulum And Borno State Assembly, The True Enemies Of Nigerians? – By Thomas Uzah PhD

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The Armed Forces of Nigeria and its gallant troops fighting Boko Haram/ISWAP terrorists in the northeast Nigeria, are not anybody’s weeping child. Officers, Soldiers ratings and airmen and women who are making enormous sacrifices for the peace and unity of Nigeria, day and night cannot be disparaged, ridiculed or diminished by Borno State Governor, Professor Babagana Umara Zulum and his surrogates or proxies at the Borno State House of Assembly.

Gov. Zulum and the state lawmakers cannot subject the Nigerian Army, the brave and courageous troops in the frontlines to any myopic slight. Sustainably, Prof. Zulum has mastered the act of slight, vilification, denigration and defamation of the Nigerian Army and troops in the frontlines since he became Governor of Borno state.

Often, he unjustly upbraids troops in the frontlines in a tenor which only passes the test of a demented fellow. He has spewed every inanity in blaming soldiers and every other person, except himself, for the unabated scourge of Boko Haram/ISWAP terrorism, which only reigns in Borno state now. Suspiciously, the same Gov. Zulum has refused to tell Nigerians why Borno State remains the only state harbouring terrorists in the country in such magnitude.

Zulum has never spared a minute to reflect on his lapses and inactions for the intermittent resurgents of terrorism in his state. He delights in playing to the gallery to earn public applauses. The Governor has never harkened to the serial and consistently publicized pleas by various groups and eminent personalities to convoke a summit of all stakeholders to dialogue on Boko Haram terrorists and their nefarious activities for some inexplicable reasons. As we all know, military actions alone have never ended terrorism anywhere in the world; but Gov. Zulum has abstinately ignored the needful in such a manner that defied human reasoning.

The Armed Forces of Nigeria and in particular, the Nigerian Army, under the able leadership of the Lieutenant General TY Buratai have been doing a marvellous job in the counterterrorism and counterinsurgency efforts of this great nation. They have been doing so professionally and diligently, devoid of sentiments or partiality. The Armed Forces of Nigeria are not politicians, but professional soldiers and they have remained true to type for the benefit of our democracy, national unity, safety and security . It is therefore inexplicable for Governor Zulum and cahoots in Borno State House of Assembly to infuse politics into the counterterrorism and counterinsurgency efforts of this country through myopic and petty sentiments to score a needless point by singling out of a police officer for recognition and honour, thus dragging the image of the Armed Forces of Nigeria and other security agencies into disrepute by portraying them as unworthy for such gesture.

No one would suffer any nightmare, if Gov. Zulum decides to bring his name and the exalted office he holds in public trust into disrepute by honouring the commander of the disbanded FSARS, CSP Ibrahim Mohammed. But is it inexcusable, absolute miscalculation, absurd, senseless and demeaning for Gov. Zulum to instruct and supervise the honouring of the Ex-commander of the scrapped FSARS and tie the reasons to his “enormous” impacts in the fight against Boko Haram merely to spite and slight troops in the warfront?

With this act, we hope that the Governor is not proving observers right about ethnic coloration of the Boko Haram terrorists saga. Regardless of bias and sentiments, that’s not how to slight soldiers who are spending sleepless nights in the trenches, forests and swamps of Borno state to give Nigerians peace and security and defend them from Boko Haram/ ISWAP terrorism. Quite curiously, Gov. Zulum never acknowledged the so-called gallantry of the FSARS commander and his team, while his “impactful salvaging” actions on the counter-insurgency lasted.

But Zulum only remembers to adore the FSARS Ex-commander with garlands, months and probably, years after these imaginary acts of bravery and at a time the FGN proscribed this discredited unit of the Nigerian Police Force (NPF). It is a resentful misstep for Gov. Zulum to inject his pro-FSARS partisan campaigns into the security arena in his state and the Northeast at large.

Gov. Zulum can be a pro-FSARS campaigner or its apostle, but no one gives a honk. But it is not acceptable for Zulum to continue to undermine the integrity, professionalism and sterling efforts of our gallant troops in the frontlines, many of whom have paid the supreme price only to be rewarded with such callous insults from the political leadership of Borno State.

Some Nigerian politicians are truly shameless. It is confounding and infantile hypocrisy that Zulum would today chant eulogies of FSARS and their alleged effectiveness on the anti-terrorism combats. But it was only yesterday, the same Gov. Zulum blamed soldiers for the attack on his convoy; he didn’t remember to call his super-hero, the FSARS commander. Whenever Boko Haram/ISWAP terrorists sneak an attack on any village in Borno, Zulum does not call his super-hero to rise to the occasion, but the Nigerian soldiers he love to hate.

And a few days ago, and before the disbandment of FSARS, Gov. Zulum who has turned a military and warfare expert, sent a public advice to the Nigerian Army, asking them to take the war to the doorstep of the insurgents. It was not the super-commander or super cop of the outlawed FSARS he summoned to the task. There is no scintilla of doubt now that Zulum knows everything hidden about the resurgent terrorism in Borno, but he is not telling Nigerians.

However, plainly, Gov. Zulum must be reminded that he knows nothing about the matrix of terrorism warfares or else, he would have recalled that Gen. Buratai launched the Super Camp strategy in the counter-insurgency operations since 2019. What is Zulum’s understanding of this warfare strategy to now mouth about taking the war to the doorstep of the insurgents? He did not give the advice to his super cop?

Some people are under the delusive illusion of knowing everything under the sun and Gov. Zulum is a classic example. It is now very discernible and glaring, Gov. Zulum’s unpretentious subversion of the counter-insurgency war. His demeaning and disreputable public howls on troops in the frontlines are carefully designed gimmicks to veil his shadows of sabotage in the counter-insurgency operations. It is not surprising that some experts are calling for a state of emergency in the state.

The Governor must understand certain things clearly. Nigerians will not tolerate myopic and teleguided politicians like Zulum to distract soldiers fighting the Boko Haram insurgency by infusing dangerous politics into security matters. Again, no one nurses any grouse against honouring anybody who works hard towards national or even community development! There is no envy of whatever hue.

But Zulum’s honour to the disbanded FSARS commander is different and drapes with insidiously destructive undertones! Certainly, there’s more to it than meets the eye in the honour extended to the disbanded FSARS chief in Borno, for his alleged contribution towards taming the Boko Haram menace. There are a few posers for Gov. Zulum and his bunch of co-travellers in the State Assembly.

Firstly, when has the Borno State Government or any of its institutions ever deemed it worthy to honour gallant troops of the Armed Forces of Nigeria, particularly those gallant officers of Nigerian Army and other sister security agencies in this honourable manner, for their extraordinary gallantry and sacrifices in the theatre of war against insurgency? Could it have been an oversight or a deliberate indifference by Zulum as today’s unfolding events have justified?

In truth, did it genuinely escape the mind of Gov. Zulum that this sort of selective treatment is not capable of demoralizing the gallant troops, that have continued to make sacrifices in defence of their fatherland? Really, what’s the underlying motive behind this ‘coveted’ honour extended to the former SARS Chief on the floor of hollowed chambers of the Borno State House of Assembly?

Is this so-called honour not really aimed at mocking and undermining the Armed Forces of Nigeria and other security agencies sacrificing daily in the fight against the Boko Haram terrorists all these years, with the unuttered statement, but loudly expressed in the action of the honour to the FSARS commander, aligning excellence in the war on terror to the discredited and disbanded police outfit? With this publicized action and the impression emanating from it, is it not wise counsel for Mr. President to unban FSARS and deploy all its members to the warfront in the northeast, withdraw the Armed Forces and other security agencies from the Borno State?

The worse plague among a people is the politicization of serious security issues. Gov. Zulum and the Borno State Assembly have wittingly indulged in this mess. Borno communities under the menace of insurgency are really unfortunate. Whilst they look afar for the enemy tormenting their lives; their greatest enemies are in-house as symbolized by Gov. Zulum and the State Legislature. In the twosome, lies the perfect imagery of saboteurs of the counter-insurgency operations who have weaponized every instrument to ensure Boko Haram insurgency persists in the state.

Uzah PhD is head of department, Mass Communication, Kwararafa University Wukari.

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Opinion

Lekki Shootings And The Resurrection Of The Massacred – By Philip Agbese

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These are indeed interesting times in the country. I am scared as well as concerned for the future of our great nation with the way and manner the once peaceful EndSARS protests were hijacked by some elements that do not wish the country well.

I recall that in some quarters, the youths on the streets were advised to leave the streets and embrace dialogue as offered by the government towards finding a lasting solution to reforming the operations of the Nigerian Police Force. I know for sure that those with genuine intent did heed to that noble call by staying away from the streets.

However, some saw this protest as the most beneficent avenue to enrich themselves, not minding the socio-economic implication of their actions. And consequently, they continued to defy pleas and overtures made to them. They constituted themselves into authorities overnight and waiting for that moment where the law enforcement agents would make a move, and they would escalate tension in the country.

That moment indeed came with the unfortunate incident at the Lekki Tollgate in Lagos state that has been described as carnage by this same set of people and their promoters with pictures and videos making the rounds on the social media space.

It is also sad that these same people that claimed that the number of casualties was in hundreds have suddenly turned prophets that resurrected the dead because as the dust is finally settling, it has been realized that the whole incident was blown out of proportion with scores of people that were recorded as dead as a result of the shootings have now come to the open to say that they are not only alive, they are hale and hearty.

This is the unfortunate situation we have found ourselves in Nigeria, and it indeed calls for concern from all well-meaning individuals and groups that are desirous of the continued growth and development of the country.

We have searched for the mascaraed to no avail. We have also attempted to put faces to the names making the rounds as dead as a result of the Lekki shootings. But our celebrities kept sharing pictures and imaginary videos suggesting how ruthless the soldiers were when they opened fire on peaceful protesters. Some went as far as saying that the soldiers took away corpses of those killed and interestingly; these individuals do not have relatives or families that would raise the alarm as to their whereabouts.

Wonders indeed shall never end in Nigeria because we still haven’t come to terms with the damaging impact misinformation could have on the socio-economic wellbeing of our country, as well as our collective psyche as a people.

The Lekki incident has indeed shown us that there is a need for all to be circumspect in receiving and sharing information, especially on the social media space because the social media space is highly deceptive and misleading. For instance, pictures of several years back were dug up and shared as a part of the Lekki incident. There was a case of a picture of a man carrying a boy who was wrapped with the Nigerian flag and dripping in blood, which was a movie scene, and it was passed around as one of the victims of the Lekki incident.

Indeed the general public believed not until the man in question had to come out to inform the people that it was indeed a movie scene and has got nothing to do with the Lekki incident. There was also the case of popular actress, Eniola Badmus who was also reportedly shot by soldiers. She has also come out to deny been shot and that she is not dead or hurt in anyway.

Eniola Badmus is not alone in this regard, as many others have also come out to debunk the news making the rounds that there were either dead or hurt by soldiers. Yes, that was how thick the plot to cause mayhem in the country, and they somewhat succeeded because the gullible ones amongst us joined the bandwagon that was spreading fake news in justification for the destruction of properties and lootings that were recorded in parts of Lagos state.

It is thus my considered opinion that as the dust continues to settle, Nigerians would continue to receive shocking revelations as to what truly transpired at the Lekki Toll Gate in Lagos State. Nigerians would also know that indeed it was mere propaganda by the sponsors of the protest to give a dog a bad name to hang it.

The handwriting on the wall is clear enough for discerning minds to know that there is more than meets the eyes. Those unseen hands, those unheard voices that are responsible for the mayhem that was unleashed in Lagos would be clinking glasses and celebrating what they would describe as a significant victory against Nigeria.

Ironically, this is what the bulk of the youths out there have not come to realize. They are still probably basking in the euphoria of the moment and forgetting that a time would come when the chicken would come home to roost.

I do not think there is any more to say other than the fact that the youths have indeed allowed themselves to be used by some vested interest against the country by urging them to resort to violence as a means to achieving an end. Trust me; I cannot remember anywhere in the world where violence has proved to be a potent tool towards achieving tangible results. This is just common sense. As it stands, we must continue to pray that all those “massacred” by the soldiers continue to resurrect.

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Opinion

Punch Newspaper and the Era of Misinformation – By Samson Akindele

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I have been an advocate for credible reportage of issues in the country. This was hinged on how misinformation or fake news has led to a crisis of unimaginable proportion in many climes. It, therefore, became imperative for newspaper houses to introduce that extra mechanism that would ensure that information coming from their stable, must have been thoroughly verified and the sources competent enough to hold on to.


All of the above were severally abused by Punch newspaper in one of its report on the EndSARS crisis in Lagos state that resulted in the burning of police stations as well as the encounter with gunmen in military uniform at the Lekki tollgate, where some protesters lost their lives. To say that it wasn’t a despicable story by Punch would be an understatement. It was indeed a story that was poorly written from the beginning to the end.


As a first, Punch newspapers got its sources wrong wherein, it relied and quoted sources on WhatsApp groups to narrate the events that led to the burning down of Orile Police Station by hoodlums. In the said story, it went further to give credence to the source at the detriment of professionalism and objectivity.

We know for a fact that this is the era of fake news, and the Whatsapp platform has been one medium that individuals and groups have used to spread falsehood. And to think that Punch Newspaper could rely on such platforms makes it indeed worrisome for the future of journalism in Nigeria.
What Punch Newspapers has succeeded in doing is to exhibit its bias for the administration of President Muhammadu Buhari through its frequent vicious attacks on the activities of the government. Needless I mention that Punch is the only newspaper in Nigeria that addresses President Muhammadu Buhari as Major General (rtd), a move many have considered as disdainful.

I am concerned that Punch newspaper is unconcerned about the negative impact its stories could have in a polity that is already tensed. A situation where outright misinformation is put in the public space, in my opinion, is aimed at serving one purpose, which is to continue to instigate the people against the law enforcement officers that have been deployed to maintain law and order in the country as a result of the protests.

These are indeed interesting times in Nigeria, and it must be realized that should entities like Punch newspaper continue with their divisive and highly slanted news reportage against the government, Nigerian might erupt in flames , which in my opinion remains the overarching desire of Punch newspapers.

If this is not the case, how could one possibly explain a situation where a newspaper of long-standing and many years would write a full story relying on information sourced from WhatsApp group chats and Instablog9ja? This also means that journalism has gone to the dogs because of no editor worth his onion would sanction such a story where sources are not credible. But again, for Punch newspaper, this is one opportunity to wreak havoc not minding the implications of their actions.

It was indeed a gross display of a deep-rooted desire to continue to mislead the members of the general public in a manner that has never been seen before. The danger is that most members of the general public would take the misinformation hook line and sinker and after that form their opinion about the happenings in the country and the efforts of the government thus far. It is also despicable that from available information, the events that led to the burning down of Orile Police Station is far from what Punch newspaper reported.

What does this tell us? It simply tells us that news mediums such as Punch have ulterior motives and they would stop at nothing until they succeed in misleading members of the unsuspecting general public, as in this case.
In the light of this, Nigerians must be circumspect with news content from Punch newspapers because there is an overarching desire to propagate highly misleading information to the general public in furtherance of their evil intentions against the country. This is indeed a statement of the fact because when a news medium elects to peddle outright falsehood without minding whose ox is gored intentionally is an indication that every parameter of reasonability has been exceeded, and the next step is to unleash the jargons on the gullible readers.

In my opinion, this is the worst form of journalism and one that negates every aspect of the journalist creed. I doubt if the promoters of Punch newspaper still remember that journalism entails a high degree of public trust. To earn and maintain this trust, it is morally imperative for every journalist and every news medium to observe the highest professional and ethical standards. In the exercise of these duties, a journalist should always have a healthy regard for the public interest by refraining from publishing inaccurate and misleading information.


They must also be reminded that all journalists and news mediums must strive to enhance national unity and the public good. Can the Punch newspaper claim to be within conduct with regards to the above stated? The answer is a huge no, and it is indeed a shame that for a newspaper as old as Punch would elect to throw away all known principles required for credible and reliable journalism.

The promoters of Punch newspaper must also come to terms with the reality that their news medium would fast lose its readership if that is not happening already.

They must also realize that the general public has seen through their gimmick that is evidenced in their disjointed editorial style that spews hatred, misinforms the general public, castigates the government for no justifiable reasons and threw away all the tenets of credible journalism in the thrash can all in their despicable desire to rubbish whatever gains that have been made by the present administration in all spheres of our socio-economic life.

From the look of things, there is no difference between Punch newspapers and other blogs and gossip sites that aggregate half-truths to drive traffic to their site. Perhaps, Punch is now an affiliate of Intablog9ja and other blogs that does nothing but spread gossip. It is sad, and there must be retracing of steps in the overall interest of peace and tranquillity in Nigeria.

Akindele wrote from 13 JOEL Ogunnaike, Lagos.

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Opinion

#EndSARS: Knowing When To Fight And When To Quit – By Philip Agbese

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The positive public perception; the overall consensual verdict and even desirability of the more than 10 days #EndSARS protests have faded. It is fizzling out with the speed of a tornado surprisingly.

By this development, the general consensus among Nigerians is clear-#EndSARS protests originally conceived by Nigerians as peaceful expression of grievances against the Special Anti-Robbery Squad (SARS), an outfit of the Nigerian Police Force (NPF) over years of extrajudicial killings, brutality, bribery, extortions and unlawful arrests/ detentions have ostensibly become public nuisances.

Apparently, the protests have been hijacked by some politicians who are allegedly sponsoring hooligans, miscreants, criminals and deviants to cause massive public unrest, attack law abiding citizens, breach public peace, torching of public buildings and personal properties, prison breaks, vandalization and looting of businesses. The latest tales from the protests are the targeted assault on prominent politicians and personalities in cities rocked by the protests.

It is daybreak for the protesters now because the #EndSARS protests have become violent and bloody. Its mutation into such violent and undemocratic character has prepared its grave and coffin early enough. Indeed, the death knell has sounded for the protesters.

The reasons instigating the protests are genuine and the concern of every Nigerian. This is irrefutable. But its concomitant abuses have dealt a fatal blow on an otherwise noble cause. Nigerians have won the battle against SARS by drawing Government and global attention to the evils embodied by SARS, a microcosm of the NPF.

And at the same time, Nigerians have lost the battle in the sense that the veiled infiltration of the #EndSARS protests by reprobates and the conspicuous rebranding of its original agenda and concept signifies the defeat of the same populist cause and struggles. It now appears more like a replication of the aborted planned mass disruption of public peace before the inauguration of President Muhammadu Buhari for a second tenure, the mild version, which later surfaced as #RevolutionNow protests.

Therefore, when the protests morphed from #EndSARS into the display of placards with inscriptions or hashtags like;” #EndBuhari; #BuhariMustResign; #EndMarginalization; #EndbadGovernance; #EndNepotism #OnResourcceControlWeStand; #EndNNPC; #EndModernSlavery; #FreeNigerDeltaRegion; #ShameOnNDDC; #LegalizeNigerDeltaLocalRefineries;#EndBadDrinkingWater #LegalizeNigerDeltaPetroleumProduction; and #EndGovernmentFraud among others signaled a trouble at its explosion stage.

And the sensed trouble is very near; lurking in the corner and dark rooms of Nigeria. The obvious politicization content of the #EndSARS protests gave rise to another group of Nigerians who displayed a poster in Abuja with the counter hashtag, #March4Nigeria. The messaged was lucid that a ten million -man march will be organized to appreciate President Buhari as a listening leader who granted all the requests of the original protests and engineering the needed reforms at the Unity Fountain, Abuja on Wednesday, October 21st, 2020.

These are not only worrisome signals, but witting romance with the path to anarchy, chaos, disruption of public peace and total breakdown of public law and order. No responsible government, unlike emperor Nero, would go feasting while the country is on fire. If times have ever been tough for Nigerians, they would now become tougher.

Let Nigerians take this precaution from Yobe state Gov. Mai Mala Buni, and APC national caretaker chairman, “… the protests should have ended since the Federal Government has responded and promised to address all the demands of the protesters; demanding an end to police brutality in Nigeria and total reform of the entire Police Force…The ongoing protests show that there is a hidden agenda after the government has responded to the protesters’ demands. There are criminals who see the disbanded police unit as threat to their criminal activities.”

Dear protesters of #EndSARS and whatever other identity or agenda infused into the remonstrations’, the time to quit is now that the ovation is loudest. There is a strong sense in what Kimberly K. Jones uttered; “The time to quit is before you wish you had.”

The unpleasant howls of the chickens in the poultry yard signifies ominous danger of a prying hawk. Elvis Presley admonished that“When things go wrong, don’t go with them.”Knowing when to fight and when to quit the stage with dignity, unbruised and unscathed defines the strength of one’s character.

A wise man who is fighting a battle knows when victory has come and when to accept defeat. Nigerians have earned the most important victories in the #EndSARS conundrum with Mr. President disbanding the discredited police outfit, and a promise of overhauling and reforming the NPF. In fact, Mr. President has promised to meet all the demands of the #EndSARS protesters.

Now, it is crucial for all and sundry to realize that actions on some of the demands of the #EndSARS protesters are immediate, which the President has responded accordingly; while others will definitely take weeks and even months. Therefore, continuous occupation of streets, cities, breach of public peace, violence and destructions can never be the panacea. This will only cause avoidable carnages and deaths.

Quite bluntly Nigerians, with the recent developments in the country on the #EndSARS protests, it’s obvious, the goal post has been missed after all the beautiful dribbles on the playing turf. But the protesting Nigerians failed to locate the 18-meter yard box when the goalkeeper was on the ground. The glory of the protests is also discloured by the alien and unacceptable tenor of the protests.

No one tells a blindman that it is raining, he feels the downpour. Nigerians again, it is time to quit the struggle honourably and give government time to act on the demands. Let compatriots learn from the quip of Sakeya Barns whosaid; “I refuse to let this house become my grave”or Lauren Oliver’s, “There’s always some relief in giving up;” because according to Curtis Tyrone Jones, “Life is never too heavy to pick up where we left off.”

The brazen breach of the democratic rights of other Nigerians in the guise of asserting and exercising what the protesters feels it’s their own liberties is pathetic display of dimwit and has irrevocably hamstrung the struggle. The ongoing criminal activities in the country in the name of #EndSARs protests should prick every conscience. In this regard, Nigerians won the battle, but lost at the same time. It is a time-honored lesson for all.

There is no victor nor vanquished! Definitely, Government has learnt from its past mistake of docility over the unlawful oddities of SARS; also, individuals have learnt a pile of lessons too. An American author, Dan Crenshaw in his book, “Fortitude: American Resilience in the Era of Change,” unknowingly counselled the #EndSARS remonstrators; …. Quitting isn’t about succumbing to reality or failing to change what can’t be changed. Quitting is not the same as failure. Quitting means giving up – in a context where there are other options. Options you know you have.” The time to quit the #EndSARS protests is now! #

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