By Kingsley Omonobi
There is anger in the land, especially as it concerns security agencies, including the Nigeria Police and the Armed Forces, following the decision of the federal government to go ahead with the trial of seven police officers accused of killing Boko Haram leader, Mohammed Yusuf in 2009.
Secondly, the military establishment, especially members of the junior officers’ corps and Non Commissioned officers, are seething with rage over calls during the week by some so-called elders from Boko Haram States on President Goodluck Jonathan to order the withdrawal of troops deployed there to checkmate the increasing wave of bombings and killings of innocent Nigerians.
Investigations by Saturday Vanguard showed that police officers, and the rank and file are devastated to note that the same Boko Haram leader who led his group of blood thirsty murderers to attack the police barracks in Maiduguri in 2009, slaughtering 23 police officers and killing another 37 family members of the police officers, including women and children in cold blood, before he was apprehended and killed, is the same person being treated like a hero while seven police officers are being treated as villains by taking them for trial for murder.
The seven officers facing trial for terrorism and murder at a federal high court in Abuja are Assistant Commissioner of Police Akeera, Assistant Commissioner of Police Mada Buba, CSP JB Abang, CSP Mahammed Ahmadu, Sergeant Adamu Gado, Police Constable Anthony Samuel, and Police Constable Linus Luka.
Continuing, police sources said, “Mohammed Yusuf and his group invaded our barracks in Maiduguri killing and maiming people with reckless abandon. And they did not just kill, they used axe, daggers and cutlasses to slash off throats of women and children, tore open their bowels and cut off arms and limbs of these police officers. It was a gory sight to behold and the powers that be made sure these pictures did not come out for ‘National Security Reasons’. Are these officers and their families not Nigerians? What has the government done for these slaughtered policemen?
Disclosing that police initially arrested the Boko Haram leader in 2007, investigated him and was to prosecute him before the office of the National Security Adviser then, General Sarkin Muktar directed the police to hand over Yusuf and others to the SSS for re-investigation before they were subsequently released, a police source asked, “So what is the offence of the police in this matter?
“It is indeed a very demoralizing signal to us. How long shall we continue to be the whipping boys? As it is now, many of us would not want to be posted to crises prone areas, because the safety of our own lives and that of our families means nothing to the federal government.”
On the part of the military, Saturday Vanguard gathered that colleagues of soldiers and officers deployed to Maiduguri as part of the Joint Task Force are infuriated by the call made by the so-called elders, including a former Chief of Defence Staff, Air Marshal Daggash and some retired generals, that the troops be moved out from the Boko Haram headquarters and be replaced with the Police.
“It was unbelievable to hear these so called elders talk. Where were they when these Boko Haram terrorists started and have been killing, maiming and bombing innocent Nigerians? Are they not aware that soldiers have been killed and many injured like other Nigerians by these terrorists? In any case, are they aware that the Joint Task Force is a conglomerate of security agencies, made up of the Army, Navy, Airforce, Police, SSS, Immigration and Customs? So, singling out the army to withdraw and to be replaced by the Police is misplaced.”
Continuing, a source said, “These elders should leave politics out of this matter. If they are looking for political relevance, they should do it using other methods, not something that is threatening the unity and co-existence of this nation. If other parts of the country whose indigenes have suffered most in the hands of these terrorists decide to react on the grounds that government is not performing its responsibility of checkmating terrorism and criminality of Boko Haram, how will these elders feel?”
Saturday Vanguard can however report authoritatively that despite the call, the activities of the JTF have been beefed up with the deployment of more firepower, armoured patrol vehicles and advanced communication gadgets to enable troops confront the terrorists whose weaponry has been discovered to be sophisticated, with arms and ammunition from across the border states like Niger, Chad and Sudan.
Saturday Vanguard recalled that during the week, the military High Command declared that the armed forces were gaining the upper hand in the fight to flush out the ‘Boko Haram Dissidents’ with the Chief of Defence Staff, Air Chief Marshal Oluseyi Petirin insisting that no amount of propaganda would make the military stop until they are routed.
On his part, the Chief of Army Staff, Lt. General Azubuike Ihejirika, clarified that contrary to insinuations, the Nigeria Army has not applied any act of high handedness with regards to its operations against the Boko Haram menace.
Said the CDS, “No amount of propaganda would stop the military from dislodging the ‘dissidents’ called Boko Haram. And they can never lay claim to having an upper hand or advantage over the Nigeria armed forces.
“Rather, the military in Nigeria is in charge of the situation. The military is in control and the military is doing everything they can to dislodge Boko Haram in their operations in Maiduguri and minimize collateral damage.”
General Ihejirika on high handedness of his men said, “It is not true that the Nigeria Army has been high handed in its operations against Boko Haram. There is no high handedness. We are mindful of the rules of engagement in all our operations. The Nigerian Army will continue to observe the rules of engagement in any operation.”