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Governor of Borno State, Prof. Babagana Zulum, yesterday alleged that there has been a “complete sabotage” of the counter insurgency war in the North-East region of the country. Zulum, who expressed frustration at the audacity of the Boko Haram insurgents to continue launching attacks even with the heavy presence of troops of the Nigerian Army in the region, said there was an urgent need to review the command and control structure of the military in the war zone. The governor stated this less than 24 hours after his convoy came under fierce attack by suspected Boko Haram Terrorists (BHTs) while on assessment visit to Baga in Borno State.
The surprise attack occurred on Wednesday, July 29 while Zulum was on his way to visit some internally displaced persons’ (IDP) camps in Kukawa Local Government Area of the state. Speaking on the ugly development in an interview with journalists in Maiduguri, the state capital, Zulum called for an immediate overhaul of the command and control structure of Operation Lafiya Dole (OPLF).
He, however, threatened to mobilise the Civilian Joint Task Force (CJTF) to take charge of security in troubled areas, if the military personnel deployed there can no longer guarantee the safety of lives and property of the citizens in these troubled areas.
New Telegraph learnt that the unfortunate attack on Zulum’s convoy took place shortly after he donated 12 operational vehicles to further the counterinsurgency fight. He was also said to have flagged-off the reopening of the Monguno-Baga highway two years after it was closed. Zulum wondered why the presence of thousands of troops and their commanding officer, has not deterred the terrorist elements from launching attacks on innocent civilians and military targets within the general area. “We have over 1,181 soldiers in Baga; 72 officers, 107 soldiers, 400 soldiers in Mile 4 and 1,900 soldiers in Monguno.
I see no reason why Boko Haram will still operate in Baga town. “If you cannot take over Baga which is less than 5 kilometres from your base, then we should forget about Baga. I will inform the Chief of Army Staff to redeploy the men to other places that they can be use ful. “You people said there’s no Boko Haram here, then who attacked us? “The troops have been in Mile 4 for over one year, there is complete sabotage, the problem is not with President Buhari or General Buratai, but the command and control structures. There is need to look into command structure.
“We have over 80,000 IDPs in Monguno, they cannot continue to depend on NGOs and others for food. We have created opportunity for them to go back to their communities and continue with their business and farming activities. “After Sallah, we will go back to Kukawa. We will give time to the military, but if they will not clear Baga, we will mobilise our hunters and vigilantes to recapture Baga. We can’t continue like this. People have taken their destinies in their hands,” the governor said. New Telegraph recalls that the insurgents had attacked and sacked residents of Baga, including the headquarters of the Multi National Joint Task Force (MNJTF) sometime in 2015, and subsequently hoisted their flag in the town.
The town was later reclaimed by the Nigerian Army and Multinational Forces. Meanwhile, the Army has confirmed the attack on Zulum’s convoy. Acting Director, Army Public Relations (DAPR), Col. Sagir Musa, assured that investigation had been opened, with a view to rounding up the attackers.
The Army said: “The convoy of the Governor of Borno State, Prof. Babagana Zulum came under Boko Haram Terrorists’ fire while visiting Baga town on the 29th of July. “The governor had earlier paid a visit to the Commander, 19 Brigade at the Nigerian Army Super Camp Baga where he was fully briefed about the prevailing security situation in the general area. “The unfortunate incident occurred shortly after the governor and his entourage departed the Super Camp to visit other parts of Baga town. The incident forced the governor to abort his planned movement to Baga.
“Although, details of the unfortunate incident is sketchy and under investigation, efforts are ongoing to comb the area where the incident occurred with a view to track down and deal decisively with the attackers. An investigation is also in progress to identify the circumstances that led to the attack.
“Regrettably, this is an isolated and most unfortunate incident that occurred in a territory where normalcy has since been restored with socio-economic activities picking up. The Nigerian Army wants to reassure the general public that this will be interrogated with a view to forestalling future reoccurrence.
“Additionally, Nigerian Army wishes to inform the general public that it will continue to discharge its responsibilities professionally with respect for the fundamental human rights of all Nigerians and in compliance with the extant rules of engagement.” The Army spokesman urged the people of Baga and indeed the entire Borno State to continue to provide credible information that will assist the security agencies to successfully combat terrorism as well as apprehend and flush out the perpetrators of the attack.