- Â Says Nigeria more secure now despite setbacks on terror war
Michael Olugbode in Maiduguri and Paul Obi in Abuja
The Nigerian Army, saturday, accused parents in the North-east part of the country of donating their daughters as suicide bombers to the Boko Haram sect, saying this new disposition is responsible for the sudden resurgence in terrorist attacks in recent weeks.
This is coming on the heels of a Boko Haram attack, which was foiled by the Army and a detachment of youth vigilance groups in Maiduguri. The attack, however, resulted in the killing of three persons, while two others sustained injuries.
In a related development, the Nigerian Air Force (NAF) has said that in spite of the recent challenges and setbacks brought about by the resurgence of terrorist attacks in some parts of the country, Nigeria is still more secure than it used to be. It added that the military had remained on track in the containment of attacks by the sect.
Director of Army Public Relations, Brig. Gen. Sani Usman, who hinted at the dangerous trend in the North-east, appealed to religious, traditional and community leaders in the zone to help dissuade parents from donating their wards and daughters as suicide bombers to the Boko Haram sect.
Usman stated, â€œThe Nigerian Army wishes to appeal to religious, traditional and community leaders, as well as all well-meaning Nigerians especially in the North-east of our country, to help dissuade people from donating their daughters or wards, to Boko Haram terrorists for indoctrination and suicide bombing missions.
â€œThis appeal became expedient in view of recent revelations by some intercepted female suicide bombers during interrogations. It was discovered that most of these hapless minors were â€˜donatedâ€™ to the terrorist sect by their heartless and misguided parents and guardians, as part of their contribution to the perpetuation of the Boko Haram terroristsâ€™ dastardly acts against the Nigerian society and humanity.â€
The Army spokesman explained, â€œThe acts of these parents and guardians are not only barbaric, but condemnable and unacceptable. Nigerians have a responsibility and obligation to collectively mould our children and wards and define a better future for them rather than condemning them to death by the criminal Boko Haram terrorists and their sympathisers through suicide bombings.
â€œConsequently, the public are kindly requested to be more vigilant, security conscious and report any suspicious persons or those whose daughters or female wards are missing or have not been seen recently. You can report by calling 193 on any network. The public is also, please, reminded that the Nigerian Armyâ€™s offer and reward of the sum of N500,000 to anybody that brought information about suicide bombing, is still available.â€
Speaking during a 10km â€œwalk and jog exerciseâ€ in Abuja, the nationâ€™s capital, Abubakar said, “Despite the challenges and few setbacks we have had in the last few weeks, I believe that we are on track in terms of making Nigeria a more secure country. Looking back from where were are coming from, I believe that I will be stating the obvious to say that we have made substantial progress and Nigeria today is more secure than before.”
He said the NAF was â€œequally on track with regard to capacity building. We have continued to train and retrain our pilots, engineers and technicians so that we can have a very effective service. We will continue to reevaluate our operations from time to time and we will not shy away from re-strategising if there is the need to do that.
“With what we have invested in the fight against terrorism, the helicopter gunships and from what the 12 aircraft we helped reactivate to add to the fight and the number of pilots we have trained, as well as the number of airmen and airwomen we have recruited, I believe that we are on track to making this country a better place.
“We are equally on track in terms of reactivation of air planes. We are similarly on track in terms of providing for the welfare of our personnel. I want to urge you to continue to rededicate yourselves so that every Nigerian territory will be secure, so that every Nigerian will be secured.â€
Explaining the basis for the exercise, Abubakar said, “The challenges of modern times are very complex and, therefore, require not only a very sound mind but a very sound body to be able to proffer solutions to these changes.
â€œTherefore, a physically sound body is essential if we are to be effective in the discharge of our responsibilities as provided in the Constitution. Physical fitness is pivotal to us as humans and most especially members of the armed forces. It is in this light that the NAF has continued to carry out this exercise quarterly.
â€œAs you are aware, the Nigerian Air Force is faced with various theatres of operation, whether in the North-east, in the South-south or the North-west. We are, no doubt, on track with regard to the kind of structures we want for our Air Force, for better efficiency and effectiveness.â€
Speaking on staff welfare, the Air Force chief told the officers, â€œI want to assure you that the leadership of the Air Force will continue to address your welfare needs. We are not unaware of the fact that we have been entrusted with a very expensive platform and therefore, we must provide for your accommodation, for your medical needs, for your allowances and for schools for your children. We will continue to work on that and make sure that you are in the best frame of mind to be effective in the discharge of your responsibilities.”
Minister of Sports, Mr. Solomon Dalung, who was represented by a Director in the ministry, Dr. Mrs. Esther Aluko, assured the NAF of the Ministry of Sportsâ€˜ support to enable air men and women remain physically fit for national duties.
Aluko also stressed that the ministry had already put in place a policy, where the military will contribute its quota of athletes for various international competitions.
Meanwhile, in the foiled attack yesterday, the police and a vigilance group, which confirmed the development, said the incident occurred at Simari on the outskirts of Maiduguri about 10pm, when a male and two female suicide bombers tried to infiltrate the town.
According to a statement by the spokesman of the Police in Borno State, Victor Isuku, three suicide attackers were prevented from detonating the explosive devices on them by members of the youth vigilance group.
He, however, said two of the youth vigilance group members were injured in the course of preventing the three suicide attackers, who died in the dastardly action.
The police stated, â€œYesterday (Friday) 4/8/2017, at about 21:49hrs, three suicide bombers, a male and two females, attempted to infiltrate Usmanti Community in Mafa LGA. They were sighted by vigilant CsJTF, who quickly alerted the joint security personnel deployed in the area. The suicide bombers were chased. In the ensuing stampede and an attempt to escape arrest, the suicide bombers hurriedly detonated IEDs strapped on their bodies, killing themselves.
â€œHowever, two CJTFs sustained injuries and were rushed to University of Maiduguri Teaching Hospital. Police and EOD personnel visited the scene to sanitise and render the area safe.â€
The attack came 16 hours after dogs foiled an attempt by two suicide bombers to hit a hospital in Moloi area of Maiduguri, according to a News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) report.
A witness, Amin Audu, said the insurgents took advantage of the night to gain access into Maiduguri but were intercepted by the military, which frustrated their effort.
He said soldiers shot the male suicide bomber, following which the explosive strapped on his body exploded. â€œThe powerful blast also made the explosives strapped on the ladies to detonate and killed them instantly,â€ he said.
Spokesman for the CJTF, Malam Abdullahi Danbatta, confirmed that two members of the group were wounded in the incident, while the Police Public Relations Officer in Borno, Mr. Victor Isuzu, corroborated this in a statement in Maiduguri saturday.
There had been a resurgence of Boko Haram attacks in recent weeks with the deadly sects staging daring raids and ambush on police and military convoys, including series of suicide attacks on IDPs camps and University of Maiduguri. In one ambush, the terror group took several policewomen hostage, and in another, it killed 48 persons, including soldiers, NNPC officials on oil exploration mission in the Chad Basin, some members of staff of the University of Maiduguri and some civilian JTF members.