Benue Killings: Killer herdsmen are sponsored – military

The Defence Headquarters, Abuja, has stated that the fresh rounds of killings in Benue State were being sponsored. It added that the military would, however, soon apprehend both the killer herdsmen and their sponsors.

The Director, Defence Information, Brig. Gen. John Agim, stated this in an interview with one of our correspondents on Thursday, insisting that the military would not support any side in the violence that had been going on in Benue State.

Recalled that herdsmen who blocked Gbeji-Anyinn Road in the Logo Local Government Area of Benue State, killed a soldier and a passerby on Monday.

On Tuesday, suspected herdsmen invaded a church in Mbalon in Gwer-East Local Area of the state and killed two Catholic priests and 17 other worshippers.

On Wednesday, there was a report that 22 people were killed when herdsmen attacked Daudu, in the Guma area of the state.

Also, on Thursday, herdsmen invaded Africa Church in Mbamondo clan of Ukemberagya Gaambe-Tiev, in the Logo Local Government Area, and killed seven internally displaced persons.

Since the killings had become a daily affair, our correspondent asked the Defence spokesman if troops in Benue State were overwhelmed and whether the military would deploy additional troops in the state.
Agim said, “The military is strategising on how to go after the herdsmen and their sponsors. We will get both the herdsmen and their sponsors.

“We want to say this to the killers and their sponsors that the military is coming for them. We are going to get both the killers and their sponsors very soon.

“The military is continuing with all its operations in the areas. Nigerians will soon see a change of approach in our operations.”

The Defence’s spokesman said the military had been recovering guns and other weapons from herdsmen and locals in several areas of Benue and Taraba states, adding that the military would not take sides.

Agim said, “Some of the weapons we recovered were seized from the herdsmen. Others are not from the herdsmen. The Dane guns we seized were not from the herdsmen. The military cannot go into an environment to support any side.

“We seized weapons from everyone who had weapons. Some of the weapons were also obtained during engagements with these criminals.


Military Sets Up Committee To Investigate T.Y. Danjuma’s Claim

The Chief of Army Staff, Lieutenant General Tukur Buratai, has set up a committee to investigate claims of the Army’s complicity in the clashes between herdsmen and farmers in Taraba State.

Former Chief of Army Staff, Lieutenant General Theophilus Danjuma (retd) last month accused the Nigerian Armed Forces of complicity in the killings in Taraba, Benue and other “riverine states” in the country. Speaking during Taraba State University convocation, he alleged that the military was not neutral and was covering those behind the attacks.

General Buratai while setting up the committee on Monday said it was necessary to clear the reputation of the Nigerian Army, adding that such allegation cannot be ignored.

“Statements of this nature could damage the reputation of the armed forces of Nigeria and thus cannot be ignored if the Nigerians Army will continue to earn the trust of the Nigerian populace.

“Thus, it became imperative for the Nigerian Army to set up this panel to confirm the veracity or otherwise of these allegations, the need for the Nigerian army to get it very clear and to get its name out of these unnecessary allegations,” he said.

General Buratai added that the military is ready to take responsibility or blame if they were really found to collude as alleged.

Danjuma is an indigene of Taraba State which has is composed of various ethnic groups that have previously lived together peacefully until the recent attacks which had led to the death of many.

Areas including Bassa Local Government, Barkin Ladi Local Government Area, among others have been plagued with the attacks.


Army Employs Fishermen, Farmers To Find Dapchi Girls

The head of counter-insurgency operation in the North East (Operation Lafiya Dole), Maj. Gen. Rogers Nicholas, has said that the military has employed the services of local fishermen and farmers in the search for the abducted Dapchi schoolgirls.

Speaking at the inauguration of helipad, office complex and residential quarters for officers and airmen at the newly established 171 Nigerian Air Force Detachment in Monguno town by the National Security Adviser, Maj-Gen. Babagana Monguno on Tuesday evening,

Nicholas said over 200 hours have been spent by crafts combing the Theatre for the schoolgirls.

Nicholas said the National Security Adviser and Chief of Air Staff came down to add value to the ongoing search for the missing Dapchi schoolgirls.

He said both the NSA and CAS have been flying round the Theatre to contribute to the ongoing search for the girls.

He said: “What this means is that nobody is sitting down, sleeping over it. It means that the government is serious in rescuing these abducted girls. Primarily, that is why the NSA is here to see things for himself and add value to what we are doing.

“Having said that, the NSA has also introduced us to some locals — fishermen and farmers — who have very good knowledge of this terrain to work with us in terms of intelligence to contribute to the search efforts we are making.

“The Nigerian Air Force has been airborne since the last three days and we will also declare additional platforms to do this exercise. As I speak, many areas have been covered, over 200 hours have been spent flying, combing the whole Theatre in search of the girls.

“Additionally the ground force are there in various places searching in various places identified.”

Nigerian Military Admits Inability To Protect Northeast

The Nigerian military shocked the citizens of the country by declaring that it lacked the capacity to protect all schools in the Northeast of the country through its Acting Director of Defence Information, Brig.Gen. John Agim.

This was to a put a lie to a claim by the Yobe state governor Ibrahim Geidam that the military withdrew troops from Dapchi barely a week to an attack on Government Girls Technical College, Dapchi, Yobe State, leading to the kidnap of 110 girls by Boko Haram.

Geidam on Saturday blamed the military for the abduction of the 110 schoolgirls in Dapchi when his Borno State counterpart, Kashim Shettima paid him a visit.

“I blame the whole attack on Dapchi on the military and the defence headquarters who withdrew troops from Dapchi. The attack occurred barely a week after the military withdrew the soldiers from there,” Geidam told Shettima.

But Brig.Gen. Agim told an online medium on Sunday night that Dapchi had no military presence at all prior to the attack.

Agim disclosed that the closest military formation was 30 kilometres away, but declined to mention the location of the troops.

He added that the governor and other Nigerians should know that the military lacks the capacity to protect all the schools in the region.

Sources revealed that Boko Haram insurgents drove 200km to Dapchi to kidnap those school girls.


Senate Invites Minister For Defence Over Invasion Of Cameroonian Military In Cross River

The Senate has summoned the Minister of Defence, Mansur Dan-Ali, to explain the alleged invasion of communities in Cross River State by Cameroonian military forces.

While calling on the Nigeria’s military authorities to increase military presence and intensify border patrol within the area “to prevent further acts of trespass by the Cameroonian soldiers” the House also went ahead to follow the adoption of a motion moved by Senator John Enoh (Cross River-Central), entitled, ‘Influx of Refugees from the Republic of Cameroon to Some Border Communities in Cross River State and Its Attendant Security Fallout.’

The motion had Senators Rose Oko (Cross River-North) and Gershom Bassey (Cross River-South) as co-sponsors.

Moving the motion, Enoh said on January 25, 2018, “more than 80 Cameroonian soldiers with various weapons crossed the international border of the Danare-Daddi/Danare-Bodom axis and abducted five natives.”

He said, “The Senate observes that this is a calculated assault and offence from the Cameroonian military on Nigeria and an outright defiance to Nigeria’s territorial sovereignty, not minding the consequences of crossing the international boundary to carry out intimidations and harassment on the already alarmed citizens of Danare, with warnings of further assault.

“The Senate is worried that the current situation being faced by both the refugees and host border communities, if not tackled urgently, may result in both an outbreak of epidemic and a serious humanitarian crisis and further escalate the already troubling security situation along these borders.”

Enoh also alleged that the current agitations for the independence of Southern Cameroon had caused influx of refugees into some border communities in Cross River State with “over 6,000” of the refugees currently squatting at the Obanliku, Boki, Etung and Ikom Local Government Areas of the state.

He recalled that as of December 16, 2017, the United Nations Human Rights Commission had biometrically registered 10,000 arrivals in remote areas of Cross River State and indicated that thousands more were awaiting registration.

Other prayers unanimously granted by the lawmakers included to call on the Minister of Foreign Affairs, Geoffrey Onyema, to “urgently liaise with his Cameroonian counterpart to secure the release of these innocent Nigerians.”

They also called on Nigeria and Cameroon to strengthen the capacity of Nigeria-Cameroon trans-border security committee aimed at addressing emerging trans-border security issues confronting the two countries.

The Senate further called on the United Nations High Commission for Refugees to intensify ongoing efforts aimed at protecting the Cameroonian refugees and assist in their voluntary repatriation, integration and resettlement.

The upper chamber of the National Assembly also urged all relevant agencies of government saddled with the responsibility of managing emergencies, including the National Emergency Management Agency, states’ emergency management agency to intensify their remedial efforts of providing relief materials to the refugees.


Buhari Decorates New Commander Of Guards Brigade

President Muhammadu Buhari on Tuesday told military officers that they can only earn the respect of those put under their command because of their intellectual disposition and experience in the field.

He based his conviction on his experience during his days a military officer.

According to a statement by his Special Adviser on Media and Publicity, Mr. Femi Adesina, the President spoke while decorating the Commander, Guards Brigade, Brig-Gen. Musa Yusuf as Major-General in Abuja.

“An officer is what he is when he gets into the field. Certainly, there was the need for intellectual officers but then what you do in the field is what earns you respect from those who are under you,” the President said.

The President commended the Guards Brigade for demonstrating a high-level of discipline and professionalism expected from officers and men of the Nigerian Army.

He said it was instructive that the Yusuf displayed a high level of discipline during his two-year stint as Commander.

“I congratulate the Brigade Commander for his achievements these past two years.

“I never received any serious report of indiscipline in your formation that is in-charge of my security.

“I hope you will get a command that will complement your experiences in the political headquarters.

“I congratulate you very much for making it to this new rank at a very competitive time. I know there are so many Generals but when you go to the records you pick the best and place them at very strategic appointments,” he said.

The President expressed confidence that Yusuf will bring his experience in the field as a former Guards Brigade Commander to his next posting, as directed by the Defence headquarters.

In his remarks, Yusuf while reaffirming his “unalloyed loyalty and that of his troops to the President and Commander-in-Chief,” thanked President Buhari for the honour of decorating him with his new rank.

He conveyed the appreciation of his troops in Keffi, Nasarawa State and those at Gwagwalada, in the Federal Capital Territory to the President for the renovation works in the barracks.

In Keffi, this is the first time in the last 25 years that 14 blocks of accommodation for soldiers are being renovated; he said adding that in Gwagwalada, the Chief of Army Staff approved funds for renovation works in the barracks to make it habitable.

Born on November 6, 1966, Yusuf had served as a member of Nigerian contingent to UN peacekeeping missions abroad including United Nations Mission in Eritrea-Ethiopia and United Nations Mission in Sudan.

He also served in ECOMOG and Operation Harmony in Bakassi, among several other appointments in army units and formations in the country.

A graduate of Chemistry from the Nigeria Defence Academy, he holds Master’s Degree in Transport Management and additional Master’s Degree in Strategic Studies.

FG Dismisses Military Involvement In Monkeypox Vaccination

The Federal Government has refuted insinuations that the military was vaccinating to spread the monkey pox virus nationwide through the Minister of Health, Isaac Adewole, who made the clarification yesterday in Abuja. Adewole declared that the military was only carrying out a campaign to win the hearts of Nigerians through one of its numerous outreaches, even as the virus reportedly spreads to 11 states with 74 suspected cases.


He said his ministry was carrying out an advanced test at the African Centre of Excellence for Genomics and Infectious Disease ‎to properly understand the genomes of the virus.

“Laboratory attendants should be able to tell us what exactly they are. We will also be able to locate and identify the origin so that we can take adequate precaution,” the minister stated.

Addressing State House Correspondents after the Federal Executive Council (FEC) meeting, presided over by President Muhammadu Buhari, Adewole ‎said the vaccination in the South-South and South-East was routine. He said the military, in consonance with its corporate social responsibility (CSR), engages in many things, including road construction and blood measurement. Noting these were normal exercises, the minister said the military had, in the past, assisted government in accessing hitherto no-go areas in Borno State with a view to broadening the polio campaign.


“There are doctors in the military, there are nurses and when you go abroad, some of the best institutions are those ones managed by the military,” he added.

The minister also dismissed as untrue the reports that the Federal Government was carrying out vaccination nationwide, saying what the ministry is doing was ‎a campaign against yellow fever in Kwara, Kogi and Borno states. He noted that government would not conduct any such exercise vaccination ‎without the active participation of the ministry.


On the speculated illegal cartel of kidney and other organ traffickers, Adewole urged Nigerians to patronise only accredited medical institutions, just as he hinted that government was making move to rebuild health infrastructure in the country to check medical tourism. To the growing abuse of tobacco and other drugs by youths, the minister ‎said government was working with the Pharmaceutical Council of Nigeria to educate people on the danger.


“We are part of the campaign against tobacco. We are implementing the framework convention to prevent smuggling and raise taxes on the products,” he stated.


Boko Haram: Defence Headquarters Give Reasons Why They Can’t Rescue Hostages

The Defence Headquarters (DHQ) has stated reasons why the military has been unable to rescue the lectures of University of Maiduguri, oil workers and women abducted by Boko Haram. They stated that the Islamic  sect was using the hostages as a shield, informing the people that the troops could apply force to free owing to the collateral damage that could follow such decision.

Recall that about ten women, including female police personnel, were kidnapped on June 21 this year along Damboa Road in Borno State. They were seized after their assailants ambushed a convoy of security personnel who was heading for a burial in Adamawa State.On the other hand, the varsity teachers, who were part of an oil exploration team in the state, were captured on July 25 this year.

The Director of Defence Information (DDI), Maj.- Gen. John Enenche, assured the residents that all the kidnapped persons would soon be freed like some of the Chibok school girls.

He noted that the military was applying lot of caution in the rescue operations as not to endanger the lives of the captives.The defence spokesman rejected calls from certain quarters asking for the wholesale bombing of the territories occupied by the terrorists.

He said: “So, that is why a lot of caution is being exercised even if you have a footage or real time evidence that these people are there. Once they are being used as human shield, then you need to be very careful on the rescue mission.

“I assure you that actions are on, intelligence is still being processed and strategies are being considered on how to ensure that the lovely citizens come out alive just like some of the Chibok girls.” The two lecturers in the Geology Department of the university were identified as Yusuf Ibrahim and Dr. Solomon N. Yusuf. The third man identified self as Haruna.

However, troops of the Nigerian Army Mobile Strike Teams (MSTs) of Operation Lafiya Dole in the Northeast have killed two terrorists in an ambush while on patrol of Mayanti village.During the two-hour exchange of fire, other members of the sect sustained gunshot wounds before fleeing through the Sambisa Forest and abandoning food items in the process.The Deputy Director Army Public Relations of 7 Division, Lt-Col. Kingsley Samuel, made the disclosure to newsmen in Maiduguri.

Nnamdi Kanu Not In Military Custody – DHQ

Defence Headquarter of the Nigerian Military yesterday cleared air over the whereabouts of the leader of the indigenous people of Biafra (IPOB), Nnamdi Kanu, said he (kanu) is not in its custody.

While reacting to sudden disappearance of the IPOB leader during a briefing with journalists at the Defence Headquarter in Abuja, the director of Defence Information (DDI), Major General John Eneche, said the military never declared Kanu wanted.

Enenche also noted that the Nigerian Armed Forces never raided Kanu’s residence, noting that the people who were actually on ground there were the biafran security service and biafran national guard.

He said, “Nobody raided Kanu’s home and I stand to be justified, not from the information I got. I was watching it live, was monitoring it live, speaking with them on the ground.

“The people that came out there that I saw are the Biafra security service and Biafra National Guard. I think I later confirmed that there was nothing to actually justify them legally to mount roadblocks. I saw the militancy; nobody told me and I saw the action there. We are still investigating”.

Enenche said the military did not proscribe IPOB and that due process was followed to proscribe the group.

The job of the military, according to Enenche, is to diagnose security issues and warn the public of consequences, which is part of the Force’s media operations.

“We did our media operations very well; otherwise that weekend would have been the longest weekend in this country and we are also very careful in choosing our words and we know the law very well”, he stated.

On Operation Python Dance 2, he said the military had enlightened people of the region, educate them and made them to be aware of what the military have been doing and it will continue to do it.

His words: “There are activities we carried out that are called winning the hearts and minds which the army is doing. Medical outreaches reaching out to the needs of those that actually need them”.

The DDI further noted that the armed forces of Nigeria is not alarmed by any presumed tension in any part of the country, saying the way the masses see the situation on ground is different from how the military sees it.

IPOB Sues Nigerian Govt, Military Over Proscription Order

The proscribed Indigenous People of Biafra (IPOB) on Friday prayed the Federal High Court in Abuja should set aside the order of injunction proscribing the activities of the group.

The Chief Judge of the Federal High, Justice Abdu Kafarati, on Wednesday in Abuja, granted Federal Government an interim injunction proscribing activities of the group.

Kafarati granted the injunction in chambers after the Minister of Justice, Mr Abubakar Malami, had approached the court with an exparte motion urging the court to do so.

The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports that President Muhammadu Buhari had earlier given written approval for the proscription of the group, pending legal process.

Governors of the Southeast states took the first step to ban the activities of the group after the military had declared it a militant terrorist group.

NAN reports that Ifeanyi Ejiofor, counsel to IPOB, led Maxwell Okpara, Chinwe Umeche, Habila Turshak, P. M. Umegborogu and Augustine Ezeokeke to file the process on behalf of the group.

The motion, with suit number FHC/ABJ/CS/871/17 was brought pursuant to Section 6(6) (1) (4) of the 1999 Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria as amended in 2011.

It was also brought under the inherent jurisdiction of the court.

The office of the Attorney-General of the Federation was listed as respondent.

The applicant averred that the grounds upon which the application was brought hinged on the fact that the Sept.20 exparte order made against it by the court was without jurisdiction.

The lead counsel said the order granted against the entity was unknown to law.

Ejiofor posited that there was clear suppression and misrepresentation of facts in the AGF’s affidavit evidence, pursuance to which the order was granted.

“The order is unconstitutional, as it was made in clear violation of constitutionally guaranteed right of the Indigenous People of Biafra to self determination.

“It also violated Article 20(1) of the Africa Charter on Human & Peoples Rights, now domesticated into our law under (Ratification and Enforcement Act) (Cap 10) Laws of the Federation of Nigeria 1990.

“It ran against the right to fair hearing, right to freedom of expression and the press.

“It further violated the right to peaceful assembly and association clearly provided for under sections 36, 39 and 40 of the 1999 Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria as (Amended) 2011,’’ Ejiofor said.

According to him, a declaratory order cannot be made pursuant to an exparte application without hearing from the party against whom the order is made.

He submitted that the Indigenous People of Biafra who were majorly of Igbo extraction had no history of violence in exercising their right to self determination.

“The Indigenous People of Biafra does not carry arms and has no history of arm struggle in the exercise of its constitutionally guaranteed right to self determination.

“Prior and during the military invasion of the South Eastern states, IPOB members had never at any time resorted to arm struggle or engage in acts of violence capable of threatening national security.

Justice Binta Nyako of Federal High Court No 4 had in her ruling delivered on March 1 held that the Indigenous People of Biafra was not an unlawful organisation.”

Ejiofor further said that Justice Nyako’s decision still subsisted as it was not appealed against to be set aside by any appellate court.

NAN reports that the matter is yet to be assigned to any judge of the court.

EDITORIAL: The Military And Internal Security

The lessons of the past week particularly in the South-east should not be lost on anyone desirous of a peaceful and stable future for our country. It started when the Nigerian Army sent notice of its preparation for ‘Operation Python Dance‘ (Egwu Eke 2), a supposedly normal routine of the Nigerian Army field training exercise meant to sharpen the skills of the participating troops in the conduct of Internal Security Operations (ISO). According to Col. Sagir Musa, Deputy Director, Army Public Relations, 82 Division, Nigerian Army, the exercise was being conducted to deal with the rising cases of kidnappings, farmers-herdsmen clashes, armed robbery, cultism, communal crisis, violent secessionist agitations, among others. The exercise was planned for September 15 to October 14.  

However, few days to the September 15 date, the military launched what appeared to be a limited police action against the Indigenous Peoples of Biafra (IPOB) and its fiery leader, Nnamdi Kanu. As would be expected, the development would stoke a raging debate on the propriety of deploying soldiers for what is primarily a police responsibility.

Many of course have argued that the action of the military was overkill, a case of an overbearing military seeking to kill a fly with a sledgehammer. Others have questioned the constitutional basis of the action. While the debate rages, the military has since announced plans to stage a similar operation – Operation Crocodile in the South-south and parts of South-west purportedly to address the same challenges of insecurity. Earlier in the year, the military launched Operation Harbin Kunama II covering the North-west and parts of the North-Central.

Beyond the emotive reaction to the latest development, there are a number of issues that cannot be ignored. First, as distasteful as the current exercises might be to some, the underlying basis of the actions cannot be discountenanced. To deny that country is adrift, or that an unprecedented anarchy is being let loose in different parts of the country on a scale that the military can ill-afford to sit and watch, is to play the ostrich. While democracy thrives on freedom and civic engagement between the ruled and the rulers, it speaks to the mood of the times that cultural and institutional restraints that would have been expected in civic, democratic discourses have, over the course of the past few months, yielded to hate and treasonable behaviors. That cannot and should not be allowed to continue.

More fundamentally however is that we cannot be seen to endorse what appears to be a systematic invasion of the civic space by the military. That is being unwittingly promoted as the new normal speaks directly to the militarization of the nation’s psyche – an exigency that is tolerated only because the country has little choice in the circumstance of the abject neglect suffered by the Nigerian Police under the military in particular – and which the succeeding democratic administrations have done pretty little to redress.  

We certainly do not see the various crimes listed by the military as justifying the operations as anything that an adequate, well-equipped police cannot deal with. In fact, the operations are such that a restructured and well-resourced police would have rendered superfluous. The problem, as far as we can see, is straightforward: Both in terms of manpower and equipment, the Nigerian Police Force is worse than inadequate.  With 219 policemen for every 100,000 citizens, Nigeria currently falls below the United Nations recommended threshold of 222 per 100,000 people – a problem further compounded by the stifling structure of centralisation leading to wastes, inadequacy and misapplication of resources, and corruption. As for control, the current structure has become too distant from the grassroots for any operational efficiency.

These are issues that a new security architecture can help address. In other words, we harbor no illusions that the unbridled militarization of the civil space will guarantee security; it will rather create an atmosphere of siege, and possibly abuse of citizens’ rights and in the end, breed mass alienation. Contrarily, a new security architecture, which allows for multi-level policing across the board, and which aligns with the demands of a truly federal constitution in theory and practice, and also well attuned to local nuances and sensibilities seems likely to prove far more effective in the long run. We therefore see state police as an idea which time has come.