Why we can’t defeat Boko Haram — Gov Shettima
Offensive against terrorists continues, Military says
Abdullahi M. Gulloma,
Given the present state of affairs, it was absolutely impossible for the government to defeat Boko Haram in the North-east, Governor Kashim Shetima of Borno state said yesterday.
Fielding questions from State House correspondents after a meeting with President Goodluck Jonathan, Shetima said the military personnel in the area were ill-equipped to put an end to the incessant attacks by the insurgents.
He said the North-east was in a state of war and that there was the need for political leaders to stop playing the ostrich and join hands together to tackle the menace.
He said: “Well, in a nutshell what we are being confronted with is that we are in a state of war. It is what I came to update Mr. President. The sooner we stopped playing the ostrich and rise up to the challenges of the day and marshall all resources towards visualising the antics of Boko Haram, the better for all of us.
“But the bottom line is that we need more resources, more vote on ground.
“In all fairness to the officers and men of the Nigerian Army and Police, they are doing their best given the circumstances they have found themselves in. But, honestly, Boko Haram are better armed and are better motivated than our own troops.
“I made it emphatically clear to Mr. President that the Boko Haram are better armed and better motivated. Anybody who is following events in this country can attest to the fact that they have a very smooth sail overrunning communities, killing people. Have we ever succeeded in thwarting any of their plans?
“They went to Konduga and did what they wanted to do; they held sway for over five hours before they left. They were in Kauri, Izge.
“And I don’t blame the Nigerian military. Honestly, we the leaders should be held responsible for our failure in leadership.”
The governor said he was more interested in putting an end to the carnage by the terrorist sect rather than elections, stressing that in all the attacks carried out so far by the sect, the insurgents had not been satisfactorily confronted, hence they left behind destruction and deaths.
Shettima said: “It is foolhardy for anybody to talk about election when human lives are involved. Power comes from God and He gives power to whom He will.
“I don’t care a hoot whether elections are here, but I do care that peace is restored in Borno and the North-east subregion, so people should stop playing politics.”
On the threat by Boko Haram to launch massive attacks if Cameroon assisted Nigeria to fight it, Shetima said: “I am not privy to such an information but the president has assured us that he would put in his best to see that the unfortunate tendency of the Boko Haram overrunning communities and butchering innocent souls is brought
Meanwhile, the death toll which stood at 93 people on Sunday as a result of Saturday’s Boko Haram attack on Izge town in Gwoza local government area of Borno state rose by 40 yesterday as corpses were brought from surrounding bushes for burial on Monday morning.
With yesterday’s burial, the death toll rose to 133, with fears that it could further rise as search operation in the surrounding bushes was still ongoing.
The apprehension of the people in the state that the casualties figure could rise was also informed by the fact that a large number of people severely injured from the attack were in hospitals in the area receiving treatment.
Security sources disclosed to journalists in Maiduguri yesterday that Izge, which was populated by about 10,000 persons, was totally deserted as the residents had totally fled the area in apprehension that the insurgents might come back to attack the town.
As at the time of filing this report last night, the state governor, who has been out of Maiduguri since Saturday to attend some important assignments in Abuja and Kaduna, was said to be on his way back to visit Izge.
A protocol officer attached to the governor’s office told reporters that they should get ready to pay a visit to Izge with the governor on Tuesday.
He said: “The governor is already on his way back to town and will be visiting the place on Tuesday.”
In a related development, the Defence Headquarters said yesterday that its ongoing military campaign against Boko Haram in some parts of the country would not be deterred by the attacks being carried out against troops and innocent civilians by the insurgents.
In a press release issued by the Director of Defence Information, Major General Chris Olukolade, the Defence Headquarters said: “The terrorists, who move from village to village attacking innocent civilians, are those escaping from the onslaught against their makeshift hideout along the border and entry point from neighbouring countries.
“The fighting patrols by air and land are being stepped up in the forests and hills of the affected areas and other parts of the north-east where the Boko Haram terrorists are hiding.
“The security forces will continue to employ necessary fire-power to enhance the effectiveness of the mission until the terrorists are duly curtailed.”
It also assured that communities were prone to attacks by the insurgents were being reinforced while the general area was under heightened surveillance and patrols.
It added: “Some suspected perpetrators of the recent assault have been apprehended and weapons recovered from them.
“While appealing for the patience of the general public, the citizens in the affected areas are encouraged to provide security agencies with TIMELY information to forestall the activities of the fleeing terrorists whose attacks on soft targets are intended to provoke fear and create a false sense of invisibility.”