Kingsley Nwezeh in Abuja and Michael Olugbode in Maiduguri
Borno State Governor, Prof. Babagana Zulum, has attributed the renewed onslaught by Boko Haram terrorist group to the decision of the military to establish “super camps.”
The insurgents attacked Gubio and Magumeri Local Government Areas of the state last week, sacking residents as well as setting their houses and government secretariat on fire.
Zulum slammed the much-touted new war strategy, super camp, introduced by the Nigerian Army in the North-east, saying it was “unwise and not working.”
But the army disagreed, saying the strategy is effective and is responsible for dislodging the insurgents who attempted to overrun Gubio and Magumeri LGAs.
The army said the super camp it recently launched also helped to foil an attempt by fighters of the Islamic State for West African Province (ISWAP) to occupy the two local councils.
But speaking when he visited President Muhammadu Buhari in Abuja at the weekend, the governor said the idea of “super camps” had made it easy for the militants to operate without resistance.
He was responding to questions from State House correspondents.
He said: “Well, the most important thing is that there is ongoing military strategy, according to the military authorities, what they called ‘establishment of super camps’. That entails that all other smaller units in various villages and towns, shall be collapsed to form part of the super camps in some critical major local government areas.
“In our thinking as laymen, not as military personnel, we thought this decision is not wise. We must ensure there is military presence in all the locations. We are very much aware of their numerical strength but nonetheless, their absence can create serious vacuum and that has informed the recent attacks.
“However, I heard that the military is now trying to re-establish the military formations in those areas and that they should not form part of the super camps.”
Zulum also commended the Civilian Joint Task Force but said they lacked the required weapons because they are not constitutionally backed to bear arms.
“Honestly speaking, the Civilian JTF are working but the most important thing is that they don’t have the heavy weapons that they can use to conveniently face Boko Haram. So the absence of the Nigerian military in a particular place will create a vacuum in such a way that the Civilian JTF and hunters cannot perform effectively.
“I have told Mr. President and he has listened to our complaints; he has done a lot for the people of Borno State and it is our sincere hope that this time around, he will take necessary steps to forestall future occurrence. But most importantly, the presence of the Nigerian military in almost all the locations especially in local government headquarters, need not be emphasised,” he said.
The governor also said the high level of unemployment in the country had to be addressed as unemployed youth could be willing tools in the hands of insurgents.
The Chief of Army Staff, Lt. General Tukur Buratai, had recently charged war commanders in the North-east to embrace a new war strategy called “super camp,” which he said would serve as a launching pad for mobile offensive operations against Boko Haram and ISWAP.