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Army blasts UK over comment on Rivers elections

The Nigerian Army has warned the United Kingdom against interfering in Nigeria’s elections following comments by the UK that the role of the military in the Rivers State elections was improper.

The British High Commission in Nigeria had in a series of tweets on Monday expressed concerns over the report of military interference in the election in Rivers State.

It said the military interference in the polls put stress on the staff of the Independent National Electoral Commission and has made it difficult for them to carry out their duties.

However, the army said in a statement by acting Director of Public Relations, Col. Sagir Musa, that the allegations were baseless.

In a statement titled, ‘Re: UK expresses concern over military involvement in Rivers poll’, the army denied allegations that its men contributed to the electoral problems in the state.

“Foreign interests are enjoined to be mindful of interfering in our national internal affairs especially when there is no credible evidence. Any allegation against the NA must be confirmed from appropriate quarters before jumping to conclusions,” the army said.

The agency said there was no evidence to show that its men compromised the exercise.

The statement added, “The NA wishes to state that the statement is totally baseless, untrue and therefore capable of misleading unsuspected members of the public, especially when there is no credible record of such involvement anywhere in Nigeria before, during and after the 2019 elections.

“The NA, as a responsible organisation, wishes to debunk such misrepresentation in order to set the record straight. Similarly, it is on record that the NA has been globally applauded by many individuals, foreign and local elections observers for its sacrifices/roles in creating an enabling environment for a secure, transparent and peaceful conduct of the elections.”

The army maintained that politicians gave hoodlums military uniforms which confused members of the public.

It said it would continue to remain neutral during and after the polls, adding that it was only providing assistance to civilian security agencies.

Army declares Brimah wanted over ‘fraudulent global fund raising to feed troops’

The Nigerian Army says it is working with Interpol to declare Dr. Perry Brimah, a Nigerian in Diaspora wanted over a fraudulent global fund raising to provide food for troops in the North East.

It said its attention was drawn to the “fraudulent and criminal’’ venture by Brimah, tagged “Global campaign to provide food for Nigerian soldiers fighting Boko Haram.’’

Brig.-Gen. Sani Usman, the spokesman of the army in a statement on Wednesday, urged the general public to provide any information on the whereabouts of “this fraudster.’’

Usman further alleged that Brimah embarked on the venture “ostensibly to defraud unsuspecting members of the public, especially the international community to fund subversive activities and personal life style.’’

“The criminal is using the following contact points for the fund raising, https://www.gofundme.com/feed-nigerian-soldiers/info @ ENDS.ng Tel: +1-929-427-5305; Whatsapp: +234-903-420-3031.

“We wish to state that the Nigerian soldiers deployed to the North East or elsewhere, neither lack logistics nor food as the fraudster wants unsuspecting members of the public to believe.

“The Nigerian army never faltered in providing necessary logistics to troops to the extent of providing extras, especially during festive periods,’’ Usman said.

He said the move by Brimah was nothing but a scam as there was nowhere in the world where troops were fed through donations by members of the public.

According to him, there has never been complaints of lack of food by soldiers talk less of starvation.

The army spokesman stressed that neither Brimah nor his agents represent the Nigerian army or its soldiers.

“Whoever believes and fall victim to this criminal act does so at his or her own risk,’’ he said.

Yari visits soldiers who survived attack in Zamfara forest

Abdul’aziz Yari, governor of Zamfara state, has visited soldiers who sustained injuries in an ambush by bandits on Saturday.

The soldiers are currently recuperating at the Federal Medical Center, Gusau, capital of Zamfara.

The governor was accompanied by 9Sanusi Rikiji, speaker of the state house of assembly and heads of security agencies in the state.

In a statement, Ibrahim Dosara, spokesman of the governor, said Ahmad Danjuma, a captain, received the governor and his entourage on Sunday.

“The Zamfara State Governor and Chairman Nigeria Governors’ Forum, Hon. (Dr)  Abubakar on Sunday 30th December, 2018 has sympathised with the military officer and seven soldiers that were wounded in a recent battle with bandits in Dumburum Forest of Zurmi Local Government Area,” the statement read.

One of the soldiers injured in the attack

“The Governor who was in the Federal Medical Centre Gusau where the affected officer and soldiers are receiving medical treatment, visited them with a view to ascertaining their condition.

“Hon. Abdul’aziz Yari during the visit talked with the officer Captain Ahmad Yusuf Danjuma alongside the seven soldiers and expressed satisfaction with the way they are responding to treatment.

“He reassured his administration’s relentless commitment to the sustainability of security agencies’ welfare and the logistical supports to strengthen them in the fight against banditry and other criminal activities in the state.”

A military source said that the bandits opened fire on soldiers who were on an operation in the forest.

The source said the attackers who had bombs and sophisticated weapons gunned down many soldiers.

The high rate of insecurity in the north-west state has been a source of concern to the government.

Over 3000 people have reportedly been killed in the state in the last two years.

Army demands closure of Amnesty International offices in Nigeria

The Nigerian Army has called for the closure of Amnesty International (AI) offices in Nigeria, alleging there is credible evidence the organisation is working hard to destabilise the country.
Army spokesman, Brig.-Gen. Sani Usman, said in a statement on Monday that the organisation’s attempt to destabilise the nation was noted through fabrication of fictitious allegations of alleged human rights abuses against the Nigerian security forces.

Usman also alleged the AI had engaged in clandestine sponsorship of dissident groups to protest, as well as unfounded allegations against the leadership of the Nigerian military.

A coalition of Civil Society Organisations (Socio-Economic Rights and Accountability Project, Enough is Enough, and BudgIT) have recently called for the probing of the Chief of Army Staff (COAS) over the funding of the war against terrorism and other crimes in the country.

The CSOs alleged the army had not made commensurate achievement in the fight in line with the huge fund the federal government allocated to the fight.

The COAS, Lt.-Gen. Tukur Buratai, had however explained that some of the allocated funds has yet to be cash backed and that it had not reached the army.

Usman said the Nigerian branch of AI that has hitherto been well respected has deviated from the core values, principles and objectives of the original parent body in the United Kingdom.

“They have tried over the years using Boko Haram terrorists conflicts, Islamic Movement in Nigeria, some activists and now herders-farmers conflicts.

“The NGO is at the verge of releasing yet another concocted report against the military, ostensibly against the Nigerian Army.

“Consequently, Nigerians should be wary of Amnesty International (Nigeria) because it’s goals are to destabilise Nigeia and to dismember it.

“The Nigerian Army has no option than to call for the closure of Amnesty International offices in Nigeria, if such recklessness continues.

Army lifts suspension on UNICEF, six hours after it slams the UN body

The Nigerian army has lifted the suspension placed on the activities of UNICEF in the north-east.

Onyema Nwachukwu,deputy director public relations of the army, disclosed this in a statement issued late Friday.

Nwachukwu said the decision followed “intervention by well-meaning Nigerians”.

He added that the military had met with representatives of the humanitarian agency and ironed out the issues which led to the action.

“Sequel to intervention by well meaning and concerned Nigerians over the recent suspension of UNICEF operations in the North East theatre of operations, the Theatre Command Operation LAFIYA DOLE convened and held an emergency meeting with representatives of UNICEF this evening,” the statement read.

“During the meeting, the Theatre Command admonished the representatives of the organization to desist from activities inimical to Nigeria’s national security and capable of undermining ongoing fight against terrorism and insurgency. The Command also urged UNICEF representatives to ensure they share information with relevant authorities whenever induction or training of new staff is being conducted in the theatre.

“Consequently, after extensive deliberations on the need to seek modalities to work harmoniously with the security agencies in the theatre of operation, the Theatre Command has henceforth lifted the three months suspension earlier imposed on UNICEF activities in North Eastern Nigeria.”

Earlier, the army had accused UNICEF of sabotaging the fight against insurgency.

The military had come under severe criticism for halting activities of the global body.

Army accuses UNICEF of sabotage, suspends its activities in North-East

The Nigerian army has suspended the activities of UNICEF in the north-eastern part of the country, accusing the humanitarian agency of sabotaging the fight against Boko Haram.

In a statement by Onyema Nwachukwu, deputy director, public relations of the army, the military said it took the action since the organisation had been sabotaging the war against insurgency.

“The Theatre Command Operation LAFIYA DOLE has observed with dismay that some of the activities of International humanitarian agencies and Non-governmental organisations’ operating in the North East have left so much to be desired,” the statement read.

“There is credible information that some of them are indulging in unwholesome practices that could further jeopardise the fight against terrorism and insurgency, as they train and deploy spies who support the insurgents and their sympathisers.

“It is baffling to note that some of these organisations have been playing the terrorists’ script with the aim to continue demoralising the troops who are doing so much to protect the lives of victims of Boko Haram Terrorism and safe guard them from wanton destruction of property and means the of livelihood. The Theatre Command considers the actions of these organisations as a direct assault and insult on the sensibilities of Nigerians, as they tend to benefit more from expanding the reign of terror on our people.

“Consequently, the Theatre Command Operation LAFIYA DOLE is suspending the operations of the United Nations International Children’s Emergency Fund (UNICEF) in the North East theatre until further notice. This has become inevitable since the organisation has abdicated its primary duty of catering for the wellbeing of children and the vulnerable through humanitarian activities and now engaged in training selected persons for clandestine activities to continue sabotaging the counter terrorism and Counter insurgency efforts of troops through spurious and unconfirmed allegations bothering on alleged violations of human rights by the military.”

FG ignored intel on Boko Haram, says S’African mercenary group

Specialised Tasks, Training, Equipment and Protection International (STTEP), a South African mercenary company, says President Muhammadu Buhari rejected intelligence warnings about operations of Boko Haram in Borno state.

STTEP was employed by former president Goodluck Jonathan in January 2015 to assist the Nigerian army in the war against the insurgents.

In a Facebook post on Sunday, Eeben Barlow, STTEP chairman, said Nigerian soldiers have been reaching out for help since his company’s services were terminated.

Barlow is speaking out in the wake of the deadly killing of Nigerian soldiers by Boko Haram insurgents.

The latest attack in Melete village, Borno, is believed to have led to the death of no less than 100 soldiers.

Weighing in on the development, Barlow said Buhari’s administration did not allow his company to complete the objective of “degrading and destroying” Boko Haram in Borno.

He wrote: “There is, in a purely military sense, no such thing as a ‘technical defeat’—something the President, as an ex-military man ought to know. Sadly, he also chose to make the successes of 7 Infantry Division and 72 Mobile Strike Force (MSF) his own, when it wasn’t.

“President Buhari and his team were, however, part of the political leader group that led the vocal charge about STTEP’s presence in Nigeria. Indeed, they made it known that the company’s presence would not be tolerated under his office.

“The initial 3-phase campaign strategy (known as ‘Operational Anvil’) to degrade and destroy BH in Borno State, was rejected by his advisors.

“Many of the men we trained as part of 72 Mobile Strike Force have remained in contact with us (STTEP), pleading for our return to Nigeria. They have also told us that they have been used to a point of exhaustion.

“Prior to, and following our departure from Nigeria, we issued numerous intelligence warnings to his government. These intelligence warnings were all rejected in favour of a false belief. Neighbouring countries were advised not to listen to us as it was claimed to be a cheap attempt to ‘get a contract’. Chad, Cameroon and Niger are now also reaping the benefits of rejecting intelligence in favour of an agenda-driven narrative.”

In a statement released on Saturday by his media team, the president described the attack as a national tragedy and warned Nigerians against politicising it.

Terrorists ambush Melete attack evacuation troops, seize gun trucks, captain

A week after the fighters of the Islamic State West African Province, ISWAP attacked the Nigerian Army 157 Battalion’s base in Metele, Borno State, scores of dead and missing soldiers had yet to be located as air assets have been deployed in the area for search and rescue, according to military sources.

Also, troops have found it difficult to evacuate the decomposing bodies of soldiers who were brutally killed by the terrorists in the attack on the Metele military base last Sunday.

A military source said on Saturday that the troops that were sent to evacuate the remains of the slain soldiers were attacked by the insurgents and had to beat a tactical withdrawal.

The source said, “As of yesterday, around 10am, troops from 7 Brigade Baga went to Kangarwa 119 Task Force Battalion Defence Company’s location to recover three armoured tanks. They were ambushed and the insurgents carted away the tanks.

The source, who lamented that the morale among the soldiers was at an all-time low, said the bodies of those killed in Sunday’s attack on Metele were already decomposing in the bushes as the insurgents had continued to lay siege to the community.

“The corpses of those killed in Metele are still not evacuated and the soldiers that went for the evacuation were 147. They were attacked at the entrance to Metele,” said the source who spoke to one of our correspondents on condition of anonymity.

“A captain was captured alive by the insurgents; the insurgents killed six soldiers from the company with seven soldiers still missing.”

He said apart from human loss, “the soldiers that went for the evacuation lost a battle tank and a gun truck to the insurgents.”

On the loss during the initial siege to Metele, he said, “Last Sunday’s attack on Metele, on the 157 Task Force Battalion, Metele, led to the loss of six officers and 56 soldiers, the eagle battle tanks, APC, riffles, mortars and bombs were all taking away by the insurgents.”

He said the company was able to evacuate six corpses in spite of the ambush.

Army breaks silence on fatal ambush of soldiers — but keeps mum on casualty figure

The Nigerian army has commented on the Boko Haram attacks on Nigerian soldiers, the most recent in Metele, Borno state.

The deadly attack on the 157 task force battalion stationed in Metele left scores of soldiers dead while some are still missing.

Some estimates put the casualty figure at over 100, but the army while commenting on Friday, failed to divulge the death toll.

The army’s statement read: “The attention of the NA has been drawn to several social media, print, electronic and online publications about the recent attack on 157 Task Force Battalion at Metele. Whilst it is true that there was an attack on the location on 18 November 2018, it has however, become necessary to correct several misinformation being circulated with regards to this unfortunate event.

“It is important for the public to note that the NA has laid down procedures for reporting incidents that involve its personnel who fall casualty in action. Out of respect for the families of our gallant troops, the NOKs are first notified before any form of public information so as to avoid exacerbating the grief family members would bear, were they to discover such from unofficial sources.

“Furthermore, it suffices to observe that several social media, print and online publications have been brandishing false casualty figures as well as circulating various footages of old and inaccurate BHT propaganda videos and alluding same to be the attack on 157 Task Force Battalion. Whilst it is understandable how such misinformation can spread in this era of social media frenzy, the spurious circulation of some of these videos only contribute to further propagate the propaganda intent of the terrorists; to misinform the populace and portray themselves as what they are not. So far, the situation is that the location is under control as reinforcing units have been able to repel the terrorists and stabilize the situation.

“The NA sincerely wishes to thank the various arms of government, MDAs and sister security agencies that have stood with her in these trying times; by commiserating with the families of the fallen heroes who have paid the supreme price for the defence of our dearly beloved country. The necessary support being given the NA by the Federal Government and the goodwill of the Nigerian populace will undoubtedly continue to spur the NA towards the ultimate defeat of the highly degraded BHTs.”

Following the latest attack, President Muhammadu Buhari dispatched Mansur Dan-Ali, minister of defence, for an emergency meeting with Chadian President Idris Deby.

Nigerian soldiers fighting Boko Haram release video, lament obsolete weapons, accuse commanders of corruption

Some Nigerian soldiers in a video obtained on Friday accused top commanders of leading them to ‘Boko Haram slaughter’ armed with obsolete weapons while enriching themselves with cash meant for buying better arms.
The hazy video, apparently taken from a camera phone, featured the soldiers expressing their anger in harsh tones.

An army officer in Borno said many of the soldiers in the video were killed in the latest Boko Haram attack on Metele, according to a report by Premium Times.

That has, however, not been independently verified.

In the video, the soldiers claimed their top commanders are using the Boko Haram war as an enterprise to enrich themselves at the expense of their lives.

The five minutes and 51 seconds video was, according to inside military sources, made shortly after troops prosecuting the Boko Haram war in the northern part of Borno State suffered a devastating attack at their location in Metele village on October 8.

The military admitted the attack then but downplayed the tragedy saying the situation had been contained and terrorists pushed back.

Weeks later, however, the same location was attacked again by Boko Haram.

Premium Times had published reports on the last Sunday attack in which over 100 soldiers died.

This newspaper also published a story from a disturbing video released by Boko Haram detailing how a previous attack happened.

The army on Friday, five days after the attack, released a statement admitting the latest Meteor attack but refused to provide official casualty figure.

The army is, however, yet to speak on this video by the soldiers and its spokesperson could not be reached at the time of this report.

The military has however said in the past that it was committed to the welfare of its soldiers and was doing its best to provide best weapons for them.

Although the army and other security agencies have demanded improved funding, army chief,  Lt. Gen  Tukur Buratai, who has visited the battlefronts in the North-east several times, has also repeatedly charged soldiers and their commanders to show more commitment in defending Nigerian territory against terrorists and other armed groups.

Worried about the rising cases of missing soldiers in Boko Haram attack, Mr Buratai issued a warning to troops on the battlefront against fleeing from insurgents in August, threatening errant personnel with a tough prosecution.

The Defence Headquarters announced last week it had taken new delivery of military equipment, boasting of a tough time ahead for insurgents.

The video by the aggrieved soldiers showed them displaying most of their war vehicles which they said were not only obsolete but unserviceable.

The soldiers said despite huge resources released by the government for the purpose of buying modern armament for the troops, the Nigeria military only supplies them with obsolete weapons, “that can’t stand any good fight with Boko Haram.”

They were heard saying in the video that their military commanders are using them to “make money” by deploying war tanks that have outlived their usefulness.

The soldiers said many of their colleagues were killed by the insurgents who also seized arms and ammunition.

Most of the soldiers – about 147 of them – that were featured in the video – died in the latest attack, a military source informed PREMIUM TIMES. This is yet to be independently verified.

Anger

Different muffled voices of soldiers spoke in the clips as they lamented the way their colleagues were killed.

“We are Nigerian soldiers dumped here in the middle of the desert. See how the Nigeria military is treating us. This place has just been attacked; see our fellow soldiers how they are burnt alive inside Hilux vans. They are using us to make money; why is it so? Are we not human beings?”

The soldiers said the Boko Haram attackers also went away with some high calibre motorised weapons like multiple rocket launchers, called 40-Barrel.

PREMIUM TIMES checks reveal that 40-barrel officially known as BM-21, is one of the world’s deadliest war weapon.

On wheels, it can launch up to 40 122mm rockets in 20 seconds, at ranges up to 20km. It is designed to deliver its deadly ammunition over an area rather than a point

“This is the place the Boko Haram came to take away 40-barrel,” the soldiers said.

“Look at how MRAP (mine resistant ambush protection) vehicles were destroyed. If RPG can penetrate MRAP, is it we human beings that it cannot destroy?”

The soldiers, who were deployed to Metele shortly after the October 8 attack, said about 147 of them were on the ground at the time they were shooting the video.

“We are 147 soldiers deployed here now, and they want to come and waste us. We will not accept that. Our blood is not meant to be spilt here; we are going to report to the federal government that we are using old war vehicles.”

The soldiers were seen in the video taking inventory of the number of war vehicles destroyed by the Boko Haram.

“This is T72 war tank that Albarnawi group came to destroy. Why are they using us to make money? We need the federal government to interfere (intervene) before they allow that terrorist called Albarnawi to come and kill us. He is being taken everywhere to collect money and then coming here to kill us.

“The federal government should come to our aid, these people (commanders) said we are nothing but zombies who don’t know our rights. But what they don’t know is that we are millennium soldiers, learned soldiers, not Oluyole (fake); we are not 63 NA soldiers, we are not 79 NA soldiers; most of us are graduates here.

“This is another T12 that was destroyed during the attack. Even the T12 tanks are very obsolete because they were procured during the regime of (Shehu) Shagari. These T12 war tanks were manufactured in 1983 in Slovakia.

“The equipment is not working; once you fire two rounds, you have to stop the engine to let it cool down; and before it could pick up again, Boko Haram would have entered and caused havoc. We have nothing protecting us here except some sand parapet and barbed wire. This place Metele is the exact place they killed troops of the Operation Last Hold.

“Despite all the money the federal government gave them they could not buy modern weapons, all they could do was to refurbish 1983 vehicles. The federal government gave them money to buy the best vehicles but the Nigeria army is here busy buying locally made like Innoson vehicles.”

Danger of 40-Barrel In Hands Of Boko Haram

A soldier with expertise on ballistics told PREMIUM TIMES that the 40-barrel in the hands of the terrorists is a tragedy waiting to explode.

“It does not only deliver 40 missiles to a range of 20km, rather, when a full blast of 40 warheads are fired, it spreads and covers a lethal area of about 600m x 600m, and on impact, they can produce a substantial fragmentation effect.

“Our prayer is that we retrieve the weapon or get its location and destroy it or the terrorists should not have the technical know-how of operating it, because it is highly technical to operate,” said the soldier who asked not to be named due to the sensitivity of the matter.

Shi’ites: If we had weapons, Nigerian army can’t face us

The Islamic Movement in Nigeria (IMN) says the army cannot face its members if they had weapons.

The group made the comment on Monday during a press conference on the recent clash between soldiers and its members in Abuja.

Abdullahi Zango, leader of the group, said the statement issued by the military and police over the killing of Shi’ites were “fabricated lies cooked up to cover their atrocities”.

He accused the soldiers of attacking defenceless protesters.

Zango said: “They continue to say that we are armed, this is a blatant lie. If we are armed, Nigeria army cannot face us.

“If we have weapons with us, Nigeria army is too small to face us. With our courage and bravery, with empty hands, they are running away from us talk less of when we have arms.

“They know that we are not armed because they are cowards.”

Zango also accused the police of planting persons with arms among the Shi’ites in a bid to incriminate the group.

He said the movement has paid N8 million as hospital bills for 106 Shi’ites who are receiving treatment at various hospitals in Abuja.

He noted that an additional N25 million will be needed to cater for other casualties who are still recuperating.

He said the total number of persons killed by the security agents is now 47.

Zango added that the group does not regret throwing stones at the security agents during the clash, saying it is the only weapon of the defenceless.

He said: “The situation of throwing stones at them, yes it is the weapon of somebody who is not armed.”

The Nigerian army has been criticised over the handling of the altercation by its troops.

The killing of Shi’ites has been condemned by many Nigerians and rights groups, including Amnesty International, which accused the soldiers of “firing live ammunition to disperse a peaceful gathering without warning”.

The defence headquarters recently issued a fresh warning to the Shi’ites, saying “we don’t have rubber bullets when we are sent on assignments“.

Ibraheem El-Zakzaky, leader of the IMN, has been in the custody of the Department of State Services (DSS) since December 2015.

Shi’ites name 34 members allegedly shot dead by soldiers

The Islamic Movement in Nigeria (IMN) has listed the names of 34 of its members who were allegedly shot dead by soldiers between between October 27 and October 30.

Members of the sect clashed with soldiers in Abuja last week.

In a statement on Sunday, the group accused soldiers of murder, demanding an investigation into the matter.

The IMN said the list would be updated to accommodate the names of others yet to be identified.

The group said most of the dead were buried in Zaria, Kaduna state, while family members claimed the bodies of others.

The defence headquarters had said only three Shi’ites were killed during violent protests, saying the army only acted in self defence.

Here is the list of the 34 Shi’ite protesters allegedly killed by soldiers:

  •  Abdulaziz Ibrahim (Maigana, Kaduna State)
  • Rabi’u Abdulwahab (Malumfashi, Katsina State)
  • Minka’ilu Shu’aibu (Kudan, Kaduna State)
  • Muhammad Hussain (Sokoto, Sokoto State)
  • Abdu Dijana (Suleja, Niger State)
  • Ukasha Dayyabu (Madalla, Niger State)
  • Faru’q Ahmad Garba
  • Sulaima SK
  • Muhammad Soje
  • Fatima Yahaya Musa
  • Malam Abu Qasim (Gaji, Bauchi State)
  • Surajo Adam (Garu, Borno State)
  • Ja’afar Yusuf (Keffi, Nasarawa State)
  • Saeed Adamu (Awe, Nasarawa State)
  • Lawal Ibrahim (Tudun Baushe Maraban Kafanchan, Kaduna State)
  • Kamal Muhammad Haruna (Kaduna, Kaduna State)
  • Al-Kasim Minka’il
  • Huzaifa Musa
  • Abdulaziz Haruna (Bauchi, Bauchi State)
  • Muhammad Sani Awwal (Bauchi, Bauchi State)
  • Zangina Muhammad Garba (Bauchi, Bauchi State)
  • Isma’il Shu’aibu Alramma (Bauchi, Bauchi State)
  • Aliuu Munnir (Mutum Biyu, Taraba State)
  • Hamisu Muhammad (Zaria, Kaduna State)
  • Abbas Muhammad
  • Munnir Muhammad (Samaru Zaria, Kaduna State)
  • Sa’id Zubairu (Maraba Abuja, FCT)
  • Abdullahi Sabo Muhammad (Yauri, Kebbi State)
  • Umar Abdullahi
  • Mansur Lawal (Bauchi, Bauchi State)
  • Umar Abdullahi Dogon Haris (Adamawa State)
  • Abubakar Dadda’u (Gombe, Gombe State)
  • Imrana Abdullahi

‘We don’t have rubber bullets’ — military issues fresh warning to Shi’ites

Brigadier-General John Agim, spokesman of the defence headquarters (DHQ), has told members of the Islamic Movement in Nigeria (IMN) to be ready to face the consequences if they take on the military.

Members of the movement better known as Shi’ites clashed with soldiers in some parts of Abuja last week.

The army confirmed that three Shi’ites were killed while four soldiers sustained injuries but the group declared 1,000 of its members missing.

Speaking in an interview with Osasu Igbinedion on The Osasu Show, Agim denied allegations that the military was sent to disrupt the procession of the movement, saying those accusing the military wanted to paint it bad.

“There are different narratives out there that are not correct. It is not true that the military is being used to stop the Shi’ites from their normal procession,” Agim said.

“Right from 2015, we have been hearing about the issue of Shi’ites and the military. It has never been that the military was sent to stop whatever thing they are doing.

“The problem emanates from the philosophy that guide the movement. The clash that you see, in fact three times now, is that the Shi’ites obstruct the military from doing their job. They are a law unto themselves. They do anything.

“They are supposed to be a religious organisation. Where did they get those arms and ammunition? This was how Boko Haram started, in fact, it was not even as serious as this. The narrative is being given by an international community and it is very simple. They want to make the military look unprofessional.

“They have the right to protest. But when you protest, protest lawfully. Anybody that does not obey the laws of the land should be sanctioned.”

Asked why the Shi’ites are asked to obey the law while the federal government has refused to obey the court order to release Zakzaky, Agim said: “So they are attacking the military to show their dissatisfaction with the government, then they should be ready for the consequence.

“We don’t have rubber bullets when we are sent on assignments. So, if any organisation that is not happy with the government want to take on the military, then they should be ready for the consequence.

“Whatever the problem of the Shi’ites with the federal government, let them take it constitutionally. You take on any military in the world and you will be taken down.”

He said if the Shi’ites are left to protest freely, people ask where the military is, but if the military intervenes, “you people you are still blaming the military. Why don’t you let these people be?

“The solution is that Shi’ites must be a religious organisation. Obey the laws of the land. Nobody can take on the military and they will not have casualties,” he said

Speaking on his assessment of the role of the judiciary in the fight against corruption, Agim said the third arm of government is not doing enough.

“I think the area where we are having serious problem in the fight against insecurity is that the judiciary has not been part of it. Anywhere that there must be law and order, people should fear sanctions,” he said.

“Several times, those people were arrested and they were released without any sanction. We have a country where nobody is sanctioned for doing something wrong. Evans, the kingpin kidnapper, he came out confessing. Over one year now, what has happened?”

Soldiers contradict Lai Mohammed, insist welfare conditions appalling

Soldiers deployed to fight Boko Haram insurgents in the north-east say the report that their poor welfare has been looked into is untrue.

According to The Cable report published earlier, Nigeria Army troops have had to beg for food and wore slippers to the battlefront.

After the report, President Muhammadu Buhari promised to look into the matter, saying he remains committed to the well-being of soldiers and other security operatives.

On Tuesday, Lai Mohammed, minister of information, said the outcome of the probe showed that the soldiers were living in good conditions.

“The summary of the findings is that there is no case of hunger, starvation or begging among the troops fighting in the north-east, and in particular in the Armed Forces Special Forces Battalion that was referenced in the publication,” he said.

“There is also no irregular/short payment of allowances, while claims of poor equipment, inadequate kitting and accommodation are found to be ill conceived and unfounded.”

But when the paper reached out to some of the soldiers across major barracks under Operation Lafiya Dole, they described the minister’s statement as incorrect.

“When did the presidency carry out a probe? How many of us did the probe committee members come to check to conclude that we are living in good condition?” a soldier at Giwa barracks in Borno state, said.

“You know Nigerian army is hiding those things. Don’t mind them, they are all looking for money. Till now, soldiers have not got their allowance and salary, and that is why soldiers don’t want to fight. Let me tell you the truth, what they promised soldiers to pay N90,000 but they are not paying. And if a soldier dies, after one week, they will freeze his account. The family will not be paid anything. Everybody is running away from the bush.”

Another soldier in Mailmalari barracks, still in Borno, said the minister is not helping with the matter because they have all been waiting on the president to probe this issue.

“If anybody from the presidency came, we would have been the one to provide escort for them. Nobody came. We didn’t see anybody,” he said.

“The feeding is even worse. Soldiers in the bush now eat once in a day. When they wake, they don’t eat until 12 noon. And they won’t eat again till 12 noon the following day. Soldiers are using their personal funds to buy gas and pots from the market. The commanders are not ready to feed soldiers.

“They are pocketing the money. How can soldiers be on operational ground and be eating only beans? The situation is worse.

“I came back from the bush yesterday. Soldiers have refused to advance. They have run from the bush back to town. Even yesterday, there was an attack. They killed some soldiers while some were injured. It happened around Gudumbali side.”

“President Buhari should come down and see things himself,” an angry soldier in Jimtilu barracks told TheCable when called to react to the minister’s statement.

“Three months now, I’ve not seen my operational allowance. The president should get independent people to probe this matter.”

WHY IS THE ARMY REFUSING TO GIVE INFORMATION ON MONEY RELEASED FOR SOLDIERS’ WELFARE?

Eight billion naira, N25 billion and N78 billion were appropriated for operation Lafiya Dole in 2016, 2017 and 2018 respectively.

In the 2017 appropriation, the ministry of defence budgeted N2.2 billion to rehabilitate barracks nationwide. There was also a separate budget of N1.7 billion for the construction/provision of barracks while another N1.6 billion was budgeted to construct special force barracks.

In the same budget, the Nigerian army was to purchase defense equipment for N5.8 billion, construct barracks for N5.2 billion while N51 million on is for rehabilitation of barracks.

N2.56 billion was budgeted for the provision of uniforms and other kitting items, and N670 million for the purchase of health/medical equipment.

N5.5 billion for the provision of barracks and N1.4 billion for uniforms and kitting in the 2016 budget.

In spite of these huge budgeted sums, the soldiers at the end of the chain did not feel the effect.

The Cable said it had sent a freedom of information (FoI) request twice to the Nigerian army finance corps for a breakdown on the fund releases for soldiers’ welfare, but there was not a single response in more than a year.

The information requested from the army were; a breakdown of amount released for the construction/rehabilitation of barracks across Borno, Yobe and Adamawa states; the name of each construction/rehabilitation project for which funds were approved from January, 2014 to October, 2017; a breakdown of total amount released to kit soldiers and officers in Borno, Yobe and Adamawa states from January, 2014 to October, 2017; a breakdown of total amount released as operational/danger allowance for soldiers and officers drafted into the Operation Lafiya Dole across Borno, Yobe and Adamawa states.

Interestingly, however, in the 2017 appropriation, the ministry of defence earmarked N20 million for a line item it called “implementation of FoI.”

“Indeed, funds were released for our troops but they boys in the bush are being shortchanged,” an officer at the Nigerian army finance corps had revealed.

The Cable

How 3 Shi’ite members were killed: Nigerian Army

The Nigerian Army said three members of the Islamic Movement of Nigeria (IMN) or Shi’ite sect, died on Monday at the Kugbo/Karu bridge junction during an encounter with troops in the Federal Capital Territory of Abuja

A statement posted on the Nigerian Army facebook account: http://www.facebook.com/hqnigerianarmy on Tuesday, said four soldiers sustained injuries during the encounter.

However, some media reports on Tuesday put the death toll at 16. Some gave 50.

The army said the fatalities arose when the sect members attacked troops deployed at a checkpoint at the junction at about 3:p.m.

Police, military blockade to ward off Shi’ite members on the attack

“The sect in massive numbers forced their way into the troops checkpoint after overrunning the Police Force.

“The Police withdrew back to troops position to join efforts to repel them.

“They fired weapons, throwing bottle cannisters with fuel, large stones, catapults with dangerous objects and other dangerous items at troops, causing bodily harm and stopping motorist movement, breaking their windscreen and causing heavy traffic.

“However, troops repelled the attack in conjunction with the Nigerian Police Force to stop the situation from further deteriorating,” the statement said.

The statement, however, said normalcy had been restored in the general area and there was now free flow of traffic.

It called on members of the public living within Abuja and environs to go about their normal activities without fear of molestation.

“The Nigerian Army will not deter in carrying out its constitutional roles and also safeguarding law abiding citizens,” it said.

Community buried General Alkali’s body secretly, says Army

Major-General Benson Akinroluyo, General Officer Commanding (GOC), 3 Division, Nigerian Army, Jos, said body of missing Major-General Alkali Idris (rtd) was allegedly buried secretly by Dura Du community.

He said that investigation revealed that the community, which had the corpse of the General while the search for him was on, buried it in a shallow grave in “no man’s land’’ somewhere in the community.

Akinroluyo stated this at a news briefing on Friday in Jos, and said that as the investigation on the whereabouts of Alkali intensified, the community exhumed the body from the first spot and re-buried it secretly.

He said that investigations revealed that when the General’s car was discovered in the village’s pond on September 29, the community hurriedly constituted a 10-man team to exhume the body and rebury it in a secret location.

“When the General’s black Toyota Corolla car was recovered from the abandoned mining pit, intelligence gathering revealed that a meeting was held in the community to relocate his corpse.
“This is because of the fear of the calamity that may befall the community when the discovery is done; so, they constituted a 10-man team to execute this function.

“The corpse, before it was exhumed, was buried in a shallow grave at a site called `no man’s land` within the community and a specialist in preservation of corpse was contracted to assist in the function.
“The specialist engaged, who is currently in our custody, revealed this information to us and only a few trusted members of the community are aware of the new location”, he said.

The GOC disclosed that during interrogation of some community members apprehended, four of them, at different times, took the Army to the shallow grave where the senior officer was buried.

“The different sources not known to each other and at separate times, took us to the opened shallow grave where the senior officer was previously buried but removed.

“Furthermore, sniffer dogs, which have been cultured with the personal effects of the senior officer, led us to the same opened shallow grave.

“The operation was carried out based on credible intelligence,’’ he said.
He said that the “cordon and search’’ operation was being conducted in line with international best practices and respect for human rights, adding that only suspected perpetrators of the crime were targeted.

Akinroluyo expressed concern that community leaders in Dura-Du district were involved in protecting perpetrators of the evil act, and had earlier engaged women to protest against draining the pond where Alkali’s car was discovered.
“The community leaders have recently been staging news conferences and writing petitions in order to smear the image of the Division and the Nigerian Army in general.“

He reiterated Army’s commitment to find Alkali’s body and arrest his attackers.
A white Toyota Lite-Ace bus, which was reported missing with the driver in June, 2018 and a red Rover car missed with its occupants in 2013, were recovered at the pond site.

One Yusuf Abubakar, nephew of Mr Lawal Isa, the owner of the red Rover car, had said that his uncle, his friend and driver were attacked by community members of Dura Du community in 2013 where he was formerly a resident.
He said the discovery of the car later was proof that his uncle was perhaps killed and buried in the community.

In his contribution, Leader of the Search and Rescue Mission of the army, Brig.-Gen. Ibrahim Mohammed, said they believed that more recoveries would be made at the pond site.

He said engineers would be engaged for further collaborations and consultation to ensure that the pond did not pose a threat to the community.

Eight persons have been declared wanted in connection with the incident. They are Chuwang Samuel, Nyam Sam, Pam Dung, Mathew Wrang, Moses Gyang and Timothy Chuan.

Others are Mr Yakubu Rap, District Head of Dura village, who allegedly co-chaired the meeting where decision to relocate Alkali’s corpse was taken, and Chuwang Stephen, who also participated in the meeting.

On September 2, 2018, gunmen attacked a shopping complex in Lafande community in Dura-Du district of Jos South Local Government Area and it triggered protest by the people of the area.

Consequently, on September 3, youths blocked the Eastern Bye-pass and Alkali travelled on that road same day, trying to get to Bauchi from Abuja.

He did not complete the journey and his whereabouts unknown, forcing army authorities to declare him missing and search initiated.

The Toyota car, which he travelled in was later discovered at a mining pond site in Dura Du community but his body not yet found.

Missing General: Army hands 13 suspects over to Police

The Nigeria Army on Wednesday presented 13 suspects arrested in connection with missing Maj.-Gen. Idris Alkali (retd) to newsmen in Jos.

Brig.-Gen. Umar Muhammed, Garrison Commander, 3 Division, Nigeria Army, Rukuba, near Jos, told newsmen that the suspects would be handed over to the Police for full investigation.

Muhammed said that the people were arrested in the area where the General’s missing car was found.

Alkali, the immediate past Chief of Administration, Army Headquarters, Abuja, was declared missing on September 3.

He was said to have gone missing on his way to Bauchi on the day of his disappearance.

Consequently, the Chief of Army Staff, Lt.-Gen. Tukur Buratai, set up a search operation for the missing General.

The Army authorities said that after a thorough investigation, they narrowed the search to a mining pond in Dura-Du in Jos South Local Government Area of Plateau. And, after two weeks of draining water from the pond, Alkali’s car and two other vehicles were recovered from the pond.

Muhammed stated that a “cordon and search’’ operation was conducted in the community and some people were apprehended.

He said, “They were moved to the barracks where they were screened, profiled and interrogated.

“These suspects will be handed over to the Nigeria Police for further investigation and prosecution.

“The persons to be handed over to Police include those who were in possession of firearms without licence.

“Those who heard and saw the criminals that stopped the retired senior officer and those that pushed his vehicle into the pond but failed to report these criminal acts to the security agencies will also be handed over.”

Muhammed added that the troops conducting the search exhibited high level of professionalism and best practices according to the rules of engagement in arresting suspects.

He also stated that the actors involved in the criminal act who were still at large were known to the Army.

According to him, efforts are being intensified to arrest them, as their photographs and personal details are with relevant security agencies.

He urged members of the community who had deserted the area and had nothing to do with the disappearance of the General to return to their homes.

Muhammed assured that no harm would come to them, but vowed that those who had anything to do with the incident would be brought to book.

(NAN)

Nigerian troops kill 76 Boko Haram terrorists, Chad kills 48

Seventy-six Boko Haram terrorists, among others, trying to overrun Nigeria’s military formation in Metele, near Kangarwa in Borno were killed today.

In what was a double blow to the terrorists on same day, Chadian troops also killed another 48.

According to the Nigerian Army Twitter posts, the gallant troops of the 157 Battalion overwhelmed the terrorists, with superior firepower, as they attempted to attack Nigerian positions.

“The sustained superior firepower of the troops led to the neutralisation of 76 BHTs”, the army said. “Unfortunately, the Nigerian Army lost seven soldiers while 16 were wounded in action”.

“The Chief of army staff, Lt. General Buratai has commiserated with the families of the deceased and directed that the wounded be given adequate medical attention”.

In Chad, eight soldiers and 48 Boko Haram militants were killed in clashes on Wednesday, officials said. Troops eliminate scores of Boko Haram insurgents in Garshigar

The early morning attack took place in Kaiga Kindji in the Lake Chad region, army spokesman Azem Agouna said, adding that 11 other soldiers were wounded. The Boko Haram terrorists also regularly launch offensives in Niger and Cameroon.

Since 2009, tens of thousands of people in the region have died at the hands of the Sunni fundamentalists and an estimated 2.5 million people fled their homes. The group’s goal is to enforce a strict interpretation of Islamic law, or sharia.

NAN

Teenager who discovered site of crashed air force jet in Benue joins army — 12 years later

Detimbir Chia, the then 14-year-old boy who discovered the site of a Nigerian air force jet that crashed in 2006, has joined the army.

On Saturday, Chia graduated from the Nigerian Defence Academy (NDA) after spending four years, and was decorated as a 2nd lieutenant, the lowest rank of a commissioned officer in the Nigerian army.

One of the most gloomy moments in the history of Nigeria was on September 17, 2006, when an aircraft conveying 15 senior military officers and three crew members crashed into a hill in a remote village in Kwande local government area of Benue.

The officers were on their way to Obudu cattle ranch in Cross River, to attend a retreat when the Dornier 228-212, crashed.

The plane had on board eight major-generals, two brigadier-generals, two wing commanders, one lieutenant colonel, and three crew members.

Chia, who was working at his family farm not far from the scene of the incident, called his father with the phone of one of the victims.

Thirteen lives were lost in the tragic incident, with five survivors.

Late Patrick Owoye Azazi, then chief of army staff under ex-President Olusegun Obasanjo, had asked Chai what he wanted to become.

He had replied, “a soldier”, and Azazi promised to help him secure admission into the NDA.

Azazi was said to have missed death as he decided not to go with the senior officers when he found out that the plane was already full. He would later die in a helicopter crash on December 15, 2012.

The officers who died in the crash J.O. Adesunloye, S.O Otubu, J.O Agboola, S.M Lemu, A.N Bamali, P.M Haruna, J.T.U Ahmedu and B. Duniya, all major-generals.

Others were Y.J Braimah, M.B Bawa, and wing commanders O. Balogun. EO Adekunle (pilot) and lieutenant-colonel N.A Mohammed, brigadier-generals.

Luther Agwai, then chief of defence staff, said the 13 officers represented some of the best in the Nigerian military.

During the 10th year remembrance anniversary of the fallen heroes, Agwai said the Nigeria may have surmounted its insurgency crises if the officers were alive.

“I can make bold to say that if they were around, may be some of the challenges that we are facing today wouldn’t have gotten to the level that they reached”, Agwai said in 2016.

“Their death up to their burial was one of the most trying, most difficult time I ever had in my career. And if you remember my military career, I have been involved in Sierra-Leone, Dafur, but all what I saw there did not traumatize me like what happened to these people because these were officers that I knew personally.”

The Cable

Nigerian Army explains position on missing general

The Nigeria Army authorities has debunked insinuations that it was not doing enough to locate the whereabouts of Major Gen. I.M. Alkali (retd), who was declared missing while on a road trip between Abuja and Bauchi.

Family members declared him missing after he failed to arrive at his destination on September 3.

His car and army orderly are also yet to be found.

Below is the full statement from Army Headquarters:

1. The attention of this HQ has been drawn to attempts by individuals like Idris Ahmed of CUPS to denigrate the NA by insinuating that the NA was unconcerned on the missing Maj Gen IN Alkali and that the NA is complicit in his disappearance.

2. Consequently, the NA wishes to state as follows:

a. That Maj Gen IM Alkali (N/8353) retired from service on 7 Aug 18 after 35 years, one month and 3 days of meritorious service to his fatherland.

b. That Maj Gen IM Alkali is entitled to keep his NA driver and orderly which he still has at the time of his disappearance.

c. That as a retired senior military officer, Maj Gen IM Alkali has the freedom to travel anywhere without asking for permission from the NA. He is also likely to travel with or without his driver and/or his orderly.
That the wife of the senior officer, Mrs Salamatu Alkali drew the attention of the NA authorities to a suspected case of the missing senior officer on 5 Sep 18.
According to the wife, the retired senior NA officer left his home in Abuja for Bauchi on 3 Sep 18.

d. That the senior officer travelled without his driver and orderly but drove himself in a black Toyota Corrolla.

e. That the wife informed that when she last spoke to him on his GSM number 09056890335, he claimed to have passed Jos and was on his way to Bauchi.

f. That on receipt of the report from his wife, the NA attached an intelligence officer to the family to act as a liaison officer. The officer was also to obtain as much details from the family to aid investigation.

g. That the NA contacted the MTN and Glo networks to furnish her with the missing senior officer call records. Appropriate technical intelligence facilities were also put into use and the senior officer’s phone was tracked to somewhere in Du District, near Jos, Plateau State.

h. That the COAS has tasked the Comd, Op SAFE HAVEN as well as GOC, 3 Div to intensify the search for the missing retired senior officer in collaboration with the Fire Service, NEMA and other relevant agencies.

i. That in the course of the search for the missing senior retired military officer, sources informed that he may have been killed and his body and car dumped into a deep mining pit arpund Du District of Jos South Local Government Area.

j. That since receiving the report of the missing retired senior NA officer, the COAS has directed that no stone should be left unturned to locate and rescue the officer.

k. That despite several attempts to distract the NA from continuing the search either through the sponsorship of protest by women or through biased reportage by so called freedom fighters antecedent, the NA has resolved to get to the root of the matter.

l. That so far, the suspected mining pit is being drained to enable troops get to the bottom of the pond.

m. That the claims by the so-called Dr Idris Ahmed that the NA is unconcerned and also sponsored the disappearance of the retired senior officer is imbecilic, childish and completely out of sync with reality.

n. That we dare Dr Idris Ahmed to provide evidence to support his infantile claims and advise him to stop playing politics with the life of an individual.

o. That Dr Idris Ahmed should report back to his handlers and sponsors that he has failed in carrying out their directive to smear the image of the COAS, Lt Gen TY Buratai as well as the NA.

3. The public is hereby enjoined to disregard the publications and continue to give the military the needed support and cooperation. Together, we shall bring total peace and security to our father land.

4. You are please requested to disseminate this information to the general public through your reputable medium.

5. Thank you for your kind cooperation.

TEXAS CHUKWU
Brigadier General
Director Army Public Relations