…Want ‘Operation safe corridor’ suspended
To effectively combat the Boko Haram menace, Borno elders want the 800 Civilian Joint Task Force (CJTF) members, recruited into army deployed to the state, Saturday Sun can reveal.
They therefore want the president to order the military authorities to immediately deploy the soldiers, drawn from the ex-CJTF fighters to the state.
The above request, it was gathered, was part of the 10 requests, sealed and submitted to President Muhammadu Buhari, last Monday, when the elders, led by Governor Kashim Shettima, met behind closed doors with the president.
The elders reasoned that since the ex-CJTF members are “fearless and understand the terrain better” than most soldiers deployed from other parts of the country, it would serve the interest of the military, the state and the country better if they were deployed to the battle fronts.
Saturday Sun recalls that a delegation comprising two former governors, traditional rulers, elders, national and state assembly members, local government chairmen representatives of unions of women, labour, journalists, religious leaders including the state chairmen of the Christian Association of Nigeria (CAN) and the Jama’atul Nasril Islam (JNI), led by Shettima met the president and presented a letter to him.
The letter, which was presented behind closed doors, the governor had said, contained some key observations and 10 demands requiring urgent presidential intervention.
Although the delegation refused to make their demands public, a competent source, said the letter was divided into two parts.
“The first part has 12 critical observations and the second one contained10 demands. The demands were drawn from the observations made. Both the observations and the demands were generated during an extraordinary security meeting convened by the governor.
“The meeting, if you recall, was attended by senior military officers including the theater commander of operation Lafiya Dole and the General Officer Commanding the 7th Division of the Nigerian Army, heads of the police, DSS, Civilian JTF fighters, hunters, traditional rulers, elders, national and state assembly members, chairmen of the Christian Association and Jama’atul Nasril Islam, representatives of labour, women council and chairman of the Nigerian Union of Journalists who ensured that journalists did not divulge any part of the meeting.
“One of the observations was that, the leadership of the Civilian JTF without contrary view (from the military) at the meeting, noted that majority of over 800 members of the Civilian JTF enlisted into the Nigerian Army are currently not deployed to Borno State where they can use their local knowledge of communities, in the fight against Boko Haram.
“So, the elders want Mr. President to consider directing that the over 800 members of the Civilian JTF enlisted into the Nigerian Army, be immediately re-deployed to Borno State, be equipped and given specialised training where necessary, for the purpose of contributing their local knowledge of the terrain in Borno State, in the fight against Boko Haram” the source said.
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The source further continued: “the Borno elders noted that more than 26,000 Civilian JTF members who fight alongside the military in battle fronts, depend on sticks and knives. They want the president to consider working with the National Assembly for the purpose of equipping a selected number of brave Civilian JTF, rather than all, with prohibitive arms and only for a specific period of time and under strict regulation by the military.
“The Borno State Police Command, which has the duty to preserve constitutional authorities in liberated and rebuilt communities, is faced with challenges of low man-power and dependence on AK 47 rifles to counter Boko Haram fighters who attack communities with AA rifles.
“In the letter, they want Mr. President to ‘consider and approve, as a matter of special case, the specialised use of AA rifles for the Borno State Police Command for capacity enhancement as against the current dependence on AK 47 rifles, these are part of the demands, ” the source added.
Saturday Sun further gathered that the Borno elders based on the submission by CJTF are worried that the ‘Operation safe corridor’ of the military where repentant Boko Haram insurgents are being released, could be breeding spies for insurgents because their release coincides with accelerated attacks by insurgents.
To this end, they want the exercise suspended, just as they want the military re-equipped to face the insurgents frontally.