War is destructive. War separates families and friends. Human lives are lost when there is war. Peace and development elude warring communities and countries; above all, blood is shed.
The two wars in Nigeria have soaked away peace in the regions where they took place. The first was the Nigerian Civil War from July 6, 1967 to January 15, 1970. I was then a teenager in my second year in secondary school at the Lagos City College, Yaba, Lagos. The late Uche Chukwumerije was then our English teacher. He also had a part-time job with either Voice of Nigeria or Radio Nigeria (Iam not too sure).
When the military coup that snowballed into the war was on the front burner, it became part of our class discussion, until the heat became more intense and my parents recalled me to my village in Amaogwugwu, Umuahia, in present-day Abia State. At the time, my village became the hub of military activities. It was the camp for a Catholic humanitarian agency known as Caritas. The military also shared part of the camp. They flew in and out of my village secondary school, formerly known as Ohuhu Community Grammer School, Amaogwugwu, from Ulli airport, which was hurriedly constructed by Biafran military engineers on the outskirts of present-day Anambra State for night flights from Sao- ome lsland.
These flights were essentially to pick and drop medical drugs and other humanitarian packages. They flew in with their white personnel from different countries with different mindset.
Some had the mind of Christianity, while others were mercenaries who were not in sympathy with the ordeal of the suffering Biafrans, but were there just for the money. They recruited some young boys as informants, what they referred to as “Rekkies”. Their assignment was to go to the war areas to obtain information. Ours was to help in off-loading cartons and bags, which we dis not know their content. Many times, we are informed of the damaging effects of air raids by the Nigerian jet fighters. At times, some casualties were brought to the camp for treatment. Even at that, some of the mercenaries were double-faced. They would fly the helicopters ment for relief materials and shortchange the Biafrans by using the same chopper to convey arms instead of relief materials. This was further affirmed by a foreign Peace Corps agent, David L. Koren, in his article titled “The World is Deep,” published online in March 2007.
Mercenaries are usually more interested in their pockets. Consequently, they would want any war they are involved not to end. That the Biafran war ended in three years shows that there is hope for the unity of the country, if the leaders can help to heal the war wounds and reconcile all the differences that caused the war. Even as we try not to look back at the 1967 war, we have once again allowed another war to fester along the fringes of our borders. This second war is an inflicted war due to negligence by our political and security leaders. Again,this writer witnessed the beginning of the second war as an adult working at the Nigeria Police headquarters, where I was the managing director of a security newspaper I founded, The Dawn. In 2008, Sir Mike Okiro was the Inspector-General of Police and had researched and came up with the idea that, with the way terrorists were rampaging around the world, it would be necessary to train some of the mobile police personnel abroad in anti-terrorism strategies. Such commendable vision was not allowed to yield its desired result as the foreign-trained personnel were disbanded immediately Okiro retired in 2009.
Unfortunately, barely a year after his retirement, the Boko Haram terrorist group, led by Muhammed Yusuf, held sway in the North East and even spread their evil tentacles into Cameroon and Chad. Because the police under Ogbonaya Onovo was unable to stand the terror heat unleashed on the civil populace, the military was immediately drafted to combat the insurgents. The second war lasted over a decade with the involvement of ISIS West Africa, another deadly Islamist terrorist gang.
While it is said that the Biafran war claimed over three million lives, the Boko Haram war may have claimed over one million lives. This writer visited Sambisa forest and some former strongholds of Boko Haram and the destruction around the villages, local government areas previously captured by them was ample evidence of what war is all about. The vestiges of these wars are still very visible, which ought not to be, after all, the first war is 50 years behind, while the second is now over yet, and wrecked national edifices have not yet been reconstructed.
Even as the country appreciates the military in the second war, an issue raised with humanitarian agencies has once again reared its ugly head. When sometime last year, the Nigerian Army screamed to high heavens about the ugly activities of foreign-sponsored non-governmental organisations (NGOs), many had described the military’s out burst as”raising false alarm.” Then the military branded the NGOs as “persona non grata.” It was discovered that some of them were not registered. To buttress the cry of the Nigerian military, another neighbouring country has joined to expose the double standard activities of these war-loving NGOs.
On December 30, 2019, the Minister of Territorial Administration in Cameroun, Mr. Paul Atanga, disclosed at a press conference that three automatic rifles of the mark AK47 and two consignments of ammunition were found in an ambulance supposedly belonging to an international NGO said to be providing relief aid in the North West and South West regions of Cameroun.
He disclosed the incident at the departure of a presidential gift of 100 truckloads of food and other basic necessities to IDPs in the two English-speaking regions.
He said the ambulance was also transporting two fugitives currently on the wanted list of security forces.
Such an eye-opener could have been some of the traces intelligence report that may have warranted the Nigerian military to raise the red flag about some of these NGOs operating around IDP camps. We now know who is telling the truth.
Truly, the activities of some of these NGOs indicates their intention not to see the end of Boko Haram but its elongation, at the expense of innocent Nigerian lives. Some NGOs are like soldier ants, all they are interested is the foreign peanuts in the form of aid that drops as “alert.”
Thank God the real Boko Haram war is over.
Call him Dr. Yinka Balogun
SECURITY FILE joins myriads of friends to congratulate and wish one of best operations and investigation officers of the Nigeria Police, an astute administrator, Olayinka Balogun, as he adds another feather to his cap.
Dr. Olayinka Balogun recently bagged a doctorate degree in Community Policing at the Convocation of the University of lbadan. Balogun it was who transformed the once notorious State Criminal Investigation Department (SCID), Panti, Yaba, Lagos to its enviable status today. He extended the same transformational magic touch to the former ‘bribe-infested’ Police Special Fraud Unit, Milverton, lkoyi, Lagos. He is known in police circles as a game-changer, just as he changed the Edo State Police Command.
We say, Congratulations Dr. Olayinka Balogun (CP rtd).