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EndSARS Violence And Nigerian Army’s Footprints

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By Thomas Uzah PhD

The recent revelation with regards to the number of casualties at the Lekki Tollgate incident once again highlights why Nigerians must be circumspect before we disseminate information and draw conclusions on burning national issues.

I recall I had my reservations when news went round town that the Nigerian Army had massacred peaceful protesters at the Lekki Tollgate. I struggled to come to terms with the pictures that were freely distributed all over the social media space, and the subsequent comments that followed suit. In truth, it was depressing.

It started at 78, after some days, we heard 15, and after some days, we heard two. That was not it. After some days again, those that were proclaimed dead resurfaced. Those whose movie pictures were used as a part of the massacre quickly came out to clear the air. And the list goes on.

This I must confess indeed brought back my sanity as I could not come to terms with the fact that the Nigerian Army that prides itself as the bastion of our nascent democracy would throw all caution in the wind and descend on unarmed citizens peacefully demanding for an end to police brutality in the country.

For the very first time, I questioned the sincerity of the Chief of Army Staff on why and how he would sanction the indiscriminate killing of young people. But little did I know that it was a well-orchestrated attempt by some powerful and vested individuals to drag the Nigerian Army into the mud for inexplicable reasons.

I am glad that indeed the truth has come out and those that wanted the head of the Nigerian Army have been put to shame. I must state that I am still at a loss as to why we tend to propagate falsehood at the slightest opportunity. At some point, it feels like there are a group of people whose stock in trade is to take advantage of every situation to entrench division amongst Nigerians.

These same individuals and associations have an overarching desire to see that Nigeria erupts in flames and in achieving this, they sponsor acts of violence, they allege ethnic and religious genocide, and other despicable acts too numerous to mention. They even went as far as spreading rumours that only existed in their imaginations. And with impunity.

Having said all of the above, every discerning mind would agree with me that indeed what happened in Lagos and other parts of the country was a display of professionalism by officers and soldiers of the Nigerian Army that contributed a great deal to containing the situation across the country. I must also add that it was indeed a spectacular display in instances where we saw videos of soldiers entertaining the crowd with pushups and pacifying them at the same time. We also saw other pictures and videos of acts of bravery displayed by officers and soldiers in containing rampaging crowds.

At some point, it looked funny how soldiers behaved like ushers welcoming people for church service, and the level of reception from the once restive crowd would melt your heart. Whomever it was that gave such a directive must be a genius because the strategy employed by the Nigerian Army was a very effective strategy that worked magic and an indication of credible leadership by the Nigerian Army authorities.

The events of recent times also brought out the human face of the Nigerian Army. It showed to Nigerians that the Nigerian Army is not only about guns and tanks, but also compassion and trust. I must confess that I am more than impressed with the conduct of the Nigerian Army so far despite the campaign of calumny ferociously launched all in a bid to drag the Nigerian Army into the murky water of politics.

This is where I salute the leadership strides of the Chief of Army Staff, Lt. Gen. Tukur Buratai for the entrenchment of a high level of discipline and professionalism in the Nigerian Army. Aside from its other exploits, the response of the Nigerian Army in the restoration of law and order in the country in the aftermath of the outbreak of violence indeed saved the day for our nascent democracy as the country almost slipped into a state of complete anarchy.

I believe that those that have never seen anything good in the efforts of the Nigerian Army would as a result of this timely intervention have a rethink and come to terms with the sacrifices of the Nigerian Army towards the protection of lives and properties in the country. And I also believe that all those acting out of ignorance and painting the Nigerian Army in a bad light would also retrace their steps and rebrand as advocates of the Nigerian Army.

In all, the lessons from the above are that Nigerians can be sure that the Nigerian Army in the past five years has been institutionalized to be the bastion of our democracy and its loyalty is to the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria and the people. This should also tell us that great efforts have gone into repositioning the Nigerian Army for more remarkable exploits by the Chief of Army Staff and for that he deserves every form of commendation for building a professionally responsive Nigerian Army, that is human rights complaint and tactical positioned to deal with the various security threats in the country.

And if I must add, credit must also be given to President Muhammadu Buhari for providing the political will for the repositioning of the Nigerian Army into a professional force. This too is a promise kept and what he would be leaving behind for Nigeria.

Uzah PhD is head of department, mass communication, Kwararafa University Wukari.

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Zabarmari Killings: Senate, Reps Urged To Face Realities In Insurgency War

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Following the killing of farmworkers in Zabarmari, Borno State, members of the Senate and the House of Representatives have been advised to face the reality on the ground and see the fight against insurgency as a collective one. 

The Coalition for Truth and Justice (CTJ) gave this call on Wednesday at a press conference in Abuja. 

Speaking on behalf of the group, National Coordinator, Timothy Charles noted that for far too long, the crisis in the North-East has been left for the military alone without any help from relevant stakeholders, including the National Assembly.  

According to the coalition, the NASS has always danced to the gallery without proferring any solution. 

To put an end to the menace, Mr Charles said all hands must be on deck, urging the National Assembly to explore ways it can use the instrument of the legislation to assist the country and the troops on the frontlines. 

The coalition further challenged the lawmakers to come up with innovations that would promote the security of lives and properties in the country. 

With a more pragmatic and proactive commitment from all critical stakeholders including the Senate and House of Representatives, the group, however, assured that the insurgency war would soon come to an end.

Read the full statement below:

The Coalition for Truth and Justice receives the recent statement credited to the hallowed chambers of the Senate and the House of Representatives in the National Assembly with regards to the security situation in the country. 

The position of the National Assembly which from all intents and purposes is not malicious, but instead, it is out of tune with reality because the insurgency crisis in North-East Nigeria has been left for the military alone, while institutions such as the National Assembly has continued to pay lip service.

The Coalition for Truth and Justice is particularly alarmed that the hallowed chambers of the National Assembly have not been credited to have proffered any solution to the insurgency crisis in North-East Nigeria, but instead, it has been playing to the gallery through public statements that are more of rhetoric and grandstanding. 

The National Assembly has again by their recent actions demonstrated gross insensitivity to the sanctity of human lives with regards to the Zabarmari killings in Jere Local Government Area of Borno State. 

The Coalition for Truth and Justice is calling on members of both chambers of the National Assembly to put the interest of the country at heart in the conduct of their legislative business by exploring ways it can use the instrument of the legislation to assist the country in the fight against insurgency and other criminal activities in Nigeria. 

The members of the Senate, as well as the House of Representatives, must realize that they are representatives of the people. As such, it behoves on them to see the task of addressing the security challenges in the country as a collective one.

It is also instructive to add that the people they represent in the National Assembly are also victims of acts of criminalities. As such, it is expected that our lawmakers should come up with innovations that would promote the security of lives and properties in the country. 

Our lawmakers must also be seen to be a part of the solution to the spate of insecurity in the country. Their deliberations in the hallowed chambers must reflect the realities on the ground and must also be seen as having respect for the sanctity of human lives. 

It is indeed instructive to state that had the members of the Senate and the House of Representatives been supportive of the efforts of the government towards tackling the threats posed by the Boko Haram insurgency, Nigeria would have made considerable progress in the war against insurgency. 

The Coalition for Truth and Justice wishes to advise the members of the National Assembly to do all within its powers to render valuable support to the government on the war against insurgency in Nigeria. 

It must also as matter urgency begin the process of enacting laws that would boost the operations of the Armed Forces of the Federal Republic of Nigeria because the realities on the ground require a more pragmatic and proactive commitment from all critical stakeholders including the National Assembly.  

The members of the National Assembly must see this task as a national concern and do all within its purview to ensure that Nigeria records success in the war against insurgency. It must also be stated that this is not the era for paying lip service and criticizing the government’s efforts. This is indeed the era of joining hands and working as a team towards the overarching aim of ensuring the security of lives and properties in Nigeria. 

The Coalition for Truth and Justice believes that our lawmakers can enact laws that would also further strengthen Nigerians sovereignty and protect the country from external aggression and in the overall interest of the country. 

This is indeed not the time to apportion blames because human lives are being lost daily, but rather this is the time for collective action and with a strategic purpose of nipping in the mid the nefarious activities of insurgents and terrorists, as well as other criminal gangs across the country. 

The members of the National Assembly must also see themselves as partners in progress and not rivals in governance as recent events suggest with the unfortunate incident in Zabarmari community in Jere Local Government Area of Borno State.

The Coalition for Truth and Justice is charging the members of the National Assembly to rise to the occasion in this critical point of our existence as a country by doing the needful in support of the war against insurgency and terrorism in Nigeria. 

The Coalition for Truth and Justice believes that if the National Assembly extends its support to the war against insurgency and terrorism, Nigeria shall experience tremendous success. 

This is our position. 

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Insurgency: Northern Elders Express Solidarity With Buhari

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The Northern Elders’ Council (NEC) has expressed solidarity with President Muhammadu Buhari and expressed confidence in his ability to effectively halt the remnants of terrorists in the country following the killing of farmworkers in Borno State. 

The group, in a statement signed by its Assistant General Secretary, Dr Adama Kabiru, on Wednesday, described the killing as “barbaric, repulsive, inexcusable, depraved and deserving of the harshest consequences possible”. 

The NEC said persons or groups gloating over the sad incident as a way of deriding President Buhari is tacitly encouraging Boko Haram to kill more.

According to the council, the sad incident should instead serve as a wake-up call to all relevant stakeholders irrespective of pecuniary differences to support the military. 

The group, however, urged the international community to support Nigeria in way of cutting off the terrorists’ access to funding and arms. 

The NEC further appealed to countries that have placed an embargo on the sales of arms to Nigeria to have a rethink.

Read the full statement below:

The Northern Elders’ Council (NEC) is urging that the Boko Haram terrorists responsible for killing scores of farmers in Zabarmari, Borno State must not go unpunished for their abhorrent crime against humanity. The specific individuals that carried out the attack should be identified and dealt with while the campaign to exterminate the terrorist group should be escalated. This is even as we sympathize with the families of the bereaved, President Muhammadu Buhari and the entire nation.

We condemn the killing of these innocent farmers, who were only out to earn their livelihood, in the strongest terms as barbaric, repulsive, inexcusable, depraved and deserving of the harshest consequences possible. The punishment for this crime should be made particularly stiff given the fact that the terrorists possibly targeted the farmers to precipitate a food crisis.

The council regrets that the terrorists and their enablers committed the atrocious murder despite all of Mr President’s sacrifices and that of the Nigerian military by exploiting the political atmosphere in Borno State to inflict pains on humanity. 

The killing of the farmers should now prompt an alignment among all stakeholders irrespective of pecuniary differences. Those sitting on the fence in the anti-terror war must now take a stand in the interest of humanity while those who that usually make justification for the crimes committed by Boko Haram terrorists should now know that it is them against the civilized world that holds the sanctity of human life dear.

We appeal to those currently trying to squeeze political capital out of this tragedy to have a rethink because it is appalling for anyone to be callous to the point of using the death of innocent persons at the hands of terrorists as means of gaining political traction. Anyone gloating over the murder as a way of deriding President Buhari is tacitly encouraging Boko Haram to kill more people, which unfortunately is what a worrying number of persons have been doing. 

NEC is certain that the death of these farmers will trigger actions that guarantee that days of the terrorists are numbered, and this singular wicked and dastardly act is one they will pay the highest price possible for. Nigerians should help ensure this by furnishing the military and security agencies with timely information that will lead to successful military operations against Boko Haram fighters.

We, therefore, urge Mr President to give the command for the Nigerian military to unleash on Boko Haram and any of its known affiliates while the intelligence community is also mandated to fish out terrorists’ enablers to cut off the financial, propaganda and intelligence they receive from their supporters. Resources should be prioritized to scale up the operations to rid northeast Nigeria and the entire  Lake Chad Basin of terrorism.

The international community must at this point shake off their indifference, particularly countries whose foreign policy drive had contributed to the rise of extremism and terrorism. They should support Nigeria by assisting in cutting off the terrorists’ access to funding and arms. Those countries that have refused to sell arms to Nigeria must at this stage have a rethink especially when it has become crystal clear that their subtle embargoes on arms sales to Nigeria were premised on false reporting by NGOs that covertly work to advance the cause of the terrorists. 

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Group Fingers Borno Opposition Behind Zabarmari Killings, Calls For Probe

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The North East Patriots Forum (NEPF) says there is a political undertone in the killing of farmers at Zarbamari community in Jere Local Government Area of Borno State.  

Contrary to reports, the group said the dastardly act may not have been committed by Boko Haram terrorists, rather aggrieved opposition politicians in Borno. 

The forum, which made this known at a press conference on Monday, said the killings could be linked to the first local government elections in the state after 13 years. 

Speaking on behalf of the group, Secretary-General, Alhaji Isah Bulama, said opposition members on sensing imminent defeat at the polls, resorted to unorthodox means to scuttle the exercise. 

While condemning the barbaric act, the North-East forum called on relevant security authorities to swiftly unravel those behind it. 

It, however, handed a 14-day ultimatum to security operatives to arrest the killers and bring them to justice. 

Read the full statement below: 

The leadership of the North East Patriots Forum welcomes all stakeholders to the important press conference in the light of the dastardly act of violence carried out on farmers in Zarbamari village in Jere Local Government Area of Borno State.

We condemn such barbaric act in its entirety and wish to extend our condolences to the people of Jere Local Government Area and Borno State at large. We must admit that these are indeed trying times in the North East region of the country especially with the threats posed by the Boko Haram terrorist group that has seen to the death of thousands as well as the displacement of millions of people in the North East region.

The North East Patriots Forum is desirous that the perpetrators of this dastardly act are brought the face the full wrath of the law within the shortest possible time.

We are indeed shocked with the way and manner young and agile men were slaughtered by the supposed Boko Haram members while tiling their farmland in Zarbamari community which has been hitherto one of the most peaceful local government areas since the beginning of the Boko Haram insurgency in Borno State.

It is also very shocking that Jere Local Government has never been in the news due to the activities of the Boko Haram terrorist group and for this dastardly act to be committed leaves `more to the imagination. 

The way and manner these farmers were killed are also suspect in the sense that since the beginning of the Boko Haram insurgency in North-East Nigeria, the group has not been known for slitting throats and beheading farmers as evident in Zarbamari recently. 

We are also constrained to ask some critical questions with regards to the killings in Zarbamari because as critical stakeholders, we are not aware of farming activities in Zarbamari in this time of the year and rice cultivation as such. We are also constrained to ask why such a large number of people would elect to gather at a location without any form of protection either at the community level or from the security agencies.

We also beg to ask what was the prevailing political atmosphere in Jere Local Government before the killings. Were those killed members of a political party or ethnicity? Was there prior violence in the area before the killings? Who are the leading contenders in the conducted local government elections in Jere Local Government Area? 

All of these questions require answers if Nigerians indeed want to know the truth about what transpired at Zarbamari village in Jere Local Government Area. As concerned stakeholders in the region, we can say to a large extent that we understand the dynamics of Borno State and Jere Local Government Area to be precise. It is consequently hard to believe that indeed the killings were perpetrated by the Boko Haram terrorist group.  

We have our reservations and which is heightened by the fact that the killings coincided with the recently conducted local government elections in Borno State after 13 years. We are also constrained to want to believe that the killings in Zarbamari have political undertones with the way and manner the victims were executed, which by all indication was to send a strong message to an individual or a group.  

Nigerians must indeed be aware that Zarbamari community in Jere Local Government Area is not one that has experienced much of Boko Haram attacks since the beginning of the insurgency. It, therefore, beats our imaginations as to why such would happen when the Boko Haram group has been decimated. Their activities confined to the fringes of the Lake Chad Basin region, which is hundreds of miles from Jere Local Government Area.

The North East Patriots Forum believes that the killings in Zarbamari community are nothing but a political event that is aimed towards scuttling the conduct of local government elections in the state. And the perpetrators are most likely the members of the opposition that apparently do not stand a chance at the polls in the local government area and hence they must do all within their means including unorthodox means to scuttle the peace and tranquillity in Borno State.  

The North East Patriots Forum is also aware that the real intention behind the killing of the farmers in Zarbamari is for political expediencies and not an attack by the Boko Haram terrorist group as widely alleged. 

We are using this medium to call on the relevant security agencies to as a matter of urgency unravel those behind the dastardly act that was committed in Zarbamari. We are also giving the various security agencies a 14 days ultimatum to arrest the killers of these innocent people and bring them to justice. 

We must also expressly state that human life is dignifying. As such, no individual or group should denigrate human life for political considerations as in the case with the killings in Zarbamari. 

It is our firm stance that nobody should take Nigeria and Nigerians for granted or play politics with the blood of innocent citizens. This is indeed despicable and must be condemned by all and sundry. 

The North East Patriots Forum is indeed watching events as they unfold in Borno State with regards to the local government elections and states that should there be further escalation of violence, the blame should go to members of the opposition in the state which by all intents and purposes are not happy with the Governor of Borno State, Babagana Zulum for having the boldness to conduct LG elections. 

Whatever be the case, it must be expressly noted that the Boko Haram terror group could not have carried out the recent killings in Zarbamari but instead a politically sponsored killings which are as a result of the recently conducted local government elections in the state.

There are indeed puzzles behind the Zarbamari killings. We thank you all for your time. 

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