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Metele horror and our challenged humanity (2)

By Yinka Odumakin

‘IF both sides were satisfied with the outcome, the rest of the girls who wanted to come home would be swapped in a second exchange in return for two million Euro and five imprisoned Boko Haram commanders.

soldiers
Army

As Mustapha worked through the details and tried to maintain the confidence of both sides, the Nigerian government began the delicate process of finding prisoners Shekau would deem acceptable.

Salkida was the man picked for the task. He began to criss-cross Nigeria combing jails and interviewing inmates, looking for militants who fit the profile.”

The report added that while the deal began coming together, there were fears that President Muhammdu Buhari might not approve of it. “The President was eager for a victory. He also loathed the idea of paying Boko Haram.

Troops dislodge Boko Haram from hideout

No one knew if he would sign off,” it said. “In the end, he approved the deal, with a condition: He insisted that any money that reached Boko Haram would be a step toward a comprehensive peace agreement. Since the insurgents collected their €3m, some Nigerian officials say an army that had struggled to feed itself seems replenished.”

Information Minister, Alhaji Lai Mohammed, denied cash payment but admitted some five Boko Haram commanders were set free.

The release of the killer kingpins was an unwitting capacity building project for Boko Haram just as the cash payment, if true, could not have been anything else but “Tradermoni” for Boko Haram to expand their killing business!

The Nigerian Army has been very disappointing on this tragedy in its public outings. We have not seen the kind of statement that mourn this loss and could lift the morale of troops alive. Rather, it has been threatening court action against those making information available on the social media in the absence of official statements to an anguished people .

“The NA would henceforth report these infractions and file cases against individuals or groups who deliberately spread fake news that aims to undermine national security, in courts of competent jurisdictions,” the army said.

According to the army, its decision to pursue legal action against those spreading fake news about its activities is also based on “the fact that spreading of fake news is an offense and violates the provisions of Section 24(1)(a),(b) and (2)(a),(b),(c)(i),(ii) of the Cybercrimes (Prohibition & Prevention etc) Act, 2015”.

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It, however, lamented that many people on social media have continued to redistribute such video clips and photos. It said: “The NA has continued to observe with great dismay the myriads of photos and video clips being recklessly distributed on various social media platforms by different calibre of persons. It is indeed shocking to see how these well-doctored propaganda materials from enemies of the State has succeeded in creating fear and unrest in the polity.

Doctored materials

“These doctored materials are obviously serving the purposes intended by the terrorists to misinform the populace, spread panic, hatred, religious intolerance and above all to undermine national security.”

The Government and the Army should read how Governor Jay Insee and the Washington National  Guard reacted after learning about the death of U.S. Army Sergeant First Class Matthew McClintock, 30, of Des Moines. McClintock was a soldier in the Washington National Guard, and was killed during combat actions in the Helmand Province in South Afghanistan.

“The death of any service member is tragic,” Inslee said. “The death of one of our own is especially difficult to grasp. My thoughts and prayers are with Sergeant First Class McClintock’s friends and family, including his young wife and infant son.

He is a true American hero who stood up to protect his state and nation. Trudi and I are deeply grateful for his service.

“Sergeant First Class McClintock was one of the best of the best,” Maj. Gen. Bret Daugherty, commander of the Washington National Guard, said. “He was a Green Beret who sacrificed time away from his loved ones to train for and carry out these dangerous missions. This is a tough loss for our organization, and a harsh reminder that ensuring freedom is not free. We stand with Staff Sergeant McClintock’s family, and will provide ongoing support during the grieving and healing process.”

Where is our own humanity? We have become so insensate that human lives mean nothing to us anymore. If these had been 100 cows rustled we would have seen government officials at the highest levels making strong statements as if the world was coming to an end.

Again, Boko Haram attacks military base, residents of Buni Gari in Yobe

And for the media, the cautionary approach in reporting this tragedy was a bit worrying and a signal there may be subconscious submission to the culture of fear spreading over the country. The initial reports on this massacre of our troops was largely social media before some sections of the mainstream media picked up the story.

In moments like this come the words of Martin Luther King, Jr.: “Our lives begin to end the day we become silent about things that matter.” The official silence on the casualties could have partly been responsible for this but independent media should not behave like government organs, watching the body language of its owner. Thomas Jefferson talked about the press and safety when he declared: “If a nation expects to be ignorant and free, in a state of civilisation, it expects what never was and never will be.

“The functionaries of every government have propensities to command at will the liberty & property of their constituents. There is no safe deposit for these but with the people themselves; nor can they be safe with them without information. Where the press is free and every man able to read, all is safe.”

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