Timothy Olanrewaju, Maiduguri
The Nigeria Bar Association (NBA) has called for the removal of gates erected on major highways in Borno State by the military.
The NBA at a Press Conference yesterday in Maiduguri, Borno State capital, said the Sunday February 9 massacre of travelers by Boko Haram along Maiduguri-Damaturu highway could have been averted had the military not erected a security gate on the road.
“They should remove all the gates on the highways and allow people to move freely. Travelers know the road is not safe and they won’t ply the road at night. They all know the time of curfew and anybody traveling along the road would have arrive Maiduguri before it is dark. These military gates cause more harms than helping people,” Chairman Maiduguri Branch of the association, Mohammed Umoru said at the briefing.
He maintained the concern of security threats raise by the military for erecting the gates could no longer be accepted. He said the military was believed to possess the capacity to detect Boko Haram movement and identify the difference between the insurgents and innocent citizens on the roads.
He said the bar in Borno was shocked and devastated on how innocent lives were “brutally and fatally murdered” in such a way that the travelers at Auno were burnt with their luggage.
The NBA leader said the Auno tragedy could have been averted but for the military strategy of erection of highway gates and closing by 5pm.
“The military is thereby denying access to our people in contravention of the provision of chapter IV of the Constitution of Federal Republic of Nigeria 1999 (as amended) particularly section 41 which guarantee freedom of movement,” he declared.
He said even with the security challenges in the state and necessity to carry out some level of reflection especially for operational purposes, the military should be conscious of peoples’ rights and safety. He maintained a review of military strategy was needed now to curtail increasing attacks by the insurgents.
He however acknowledged the sacrifices of the military personnel especially those who have paid the supreme price to protect the people and defend the country.
About 30 travelers were reportedly killed and a dozen vehicles including a petrol tanker burnt by Boko Haram terrorists at Auno on the night of Sunday February 9. The travelers were stopped by the military following the closing of a highway gate near the town, forcing the travelers to park the vehicles in the community, some 24 kilometres to Maiduguri, to spend the night.