- PDP: Service chiefs’ distractions led to killings
By Shola Oyeyipo and Adedayo Akinwale in Abuja
Worried by the killing of 44 soldiers by Boko Haram last Sunday during an attack on a military base in Metele, Borno State, near the Nigeria – Chad boarder, President Muhammadu Buhari, yesterday, summoned an emergency meeting with the Service Chiefs.
On the same day, the President dispatched the Minister of Defence, Brigadier General Mansur Dan Ali (Rtd) to neighbouring Republic of Chad for an urgent meeting with President Idris Derby and his defence counterpart.
Also yesterday, the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) alleged that the killing of 44 soldiers in Metele was as a result of the active involvement of the Service Chiefs in the re-election activities of President Buhari, “instead of concentrating on their statutory duties.”
Sources also told THISDAY last night that families of the latest victims of the Boko Haram attacks are being identified and contacted ahead an official government pronouncement. According to the military sources, this is responsible for the silence of the federal government over the incident.
Reliable diplomatic sources in Abuja that hinted THISDAY of the development yesterday, strictly on condition of anonymity, said Ali’s mission was to unearth what led to the increase in the activities of Boko Haram terrorists in the area and to find an immediate solution to it.
According to the source, “Nigeria has a problem with Chad in the Multi-National Joint Task Force (MNJTF) put together to secure the Lake Chad basin areas and repeal the Boko Haram terrorists’ attacks against all the countries neighbouring the Lake.”
Chad is believed to be having their own internal security challenges and this has reportedly led the government to withdraw the troops manning their boarder with Lake Chad.
“That lacuna is being exploited by the Boko Haram terrorists, who go in and out of Nigeria, Niger and Cameroon to launch terrorist acts. This is a clear illustration of the fact that terrorism is beyond national border.”
Asked to comment on the development, the Senior Special Assistant to the President on Media and Publicity, Mr. Garba Shehu confirmed that he was aware that the Defence Minister was going to Chad but said he did not know his mission there.
Reacting to the slaughter of over 44 Nigerian soldiers, the PDP said they died needlessly because of the Service Chiefs’ neglect of their responsibilities in preference for the re-election campaign activities of President Buhari.
The main opposition party said although it still had implicit faith in the Nigerian military, but warned Buhari to desist from acts that tend to whittle the proficiency and compromise the safety of the service men and women who are daily risking their lives in defence of the nation.
The PDP, in a statement yesterday by its National Publicity Secretary, Mr. Kola Ologbondiyan, lamented that the incessant and avoidable killing of the soldiers by insurgents in the North-east demands explanation from the president.
He stated: “The PDP insists on clarifications from the Buhari Presidency. This is in addition to apprehensions by Nigerians that the Buhari Presidency has been distracting our military by dragging our Service Chiefs to participate in his re-election campaign activities, instead of concentrating on their statutory duties.
“The PDP, however, notes that it still has implicit faith in the Nigerian military and urged the Buhari Presidency to desist from acts that tend to whittle the proficiency and compromise the safety of our men and women who are daily risking their lives in defence of our nation.”
“This is particularly against the backdrop of earlier claims by the federal government that insurgents operating in the North-east have been defeated.”
The party expressed worry over reports of alleged compromises, neglect and inattention to military formations in the North-east leading to the vulnerability of the soldiers.
The PDP urged Buhari to be alive to his responsibility as the Commander-in-Chief by immediately reviewing his parade to ensure greater professionalism and welfare of our officers and men.
The party also called on Nigerians not to despair in the face of this ugly development but to continue to join forces with security agencies in the effort to rid the land of bandits, insurgents and marauders.
Boko Haram terrorists killed scores of soldiers during attacks on three military bases within three days in Borno State. In the first attack, scores of soldiers were killed in Metele. The same day, they launched a pre-dawn attack on a base in the town of Gajiram, about 80 kilometres north of Maiduguri. The previous day, the terrorists also attacked a military base in Mainok, Borno State, killing a soldier. Boko Haram fighters also stormed Mammanti village in Borno State, killing nine farmers.