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Shola Oyeyipo in Abuja
Despite the claim of the federal government that it has “technically” defeated Boko Haram and the terror group was no longer in control of any territory, two members of the House of Representatives from Borno State, the epicentre of the insurgency, yesterday told the House that eight local government areas in the state are under the control of the insurgents.
They expressed concerns about the spike in the deadly activities of the terrorist group, saying the insurgents have refreshed their expansionist quest and continued to sustain control over more local government areas/communities in the state.
The House Chief Whip, Hon. Mohammed Tahir Monguno, representing Marte/Monguno/Nganzai Federal Constituency of Borno State and his counterpart from Damboa/Gwoza/Chibok Federal Constituency of the state, Hon. Ahmadu Usman Jaha, spoke while the House was debating a motion of ‘’urgent national importance’’ that Monguno sponsored. The motion was brought pursuant to Order 8, Rule 4 of the relevant rules of the House.
According to Monguno, there is the need for special intervention in the protracted security situation because the gains recorded against the Boko Haram by the Buhari administration are currently being reversed.
He said: “Before the advent of the current administration, the territorial integrity of this country had been compromised as a result of the activities of Boko Haram insurgents. It is also a public knowledge that as a result of the activities of Boko Haram, about two-thirds of local government areas, particularly in Borno State, the epicentre of Boko Haram insurgency, came under effective control of the Boko Haram insurgents, thereby administering their own rules and regulations, hoisting their flags and comprising the territorial integrity of the country.
“Maiduguri, the capital of Borno State, had become another huge IDPs’ camp as a result of the influx of people from other local government areas and it triggered a very huge humanitarian crisis. With the coming of this government as well as the political will exhibited by the leadership of President Muhammadu Buhari, as well as the gallantry exhibited by our armed forces, today, I can report to you that these local government areas have been degraded (reclaimed).
‘’But of recent, we have started witnessing a retrogression in the successes so far achieved in the fight against Boko Haram insurgency, which is a risk of going back to the pre-2015 ugly scenario of Boko Haram effectively having control over some local government areas. And it might trigger mass migration of people from the affected local government areas to Maiduguri.”
Corroborating Monguno, Jaha gave graphic details of how Boko Haram has taken control of areas in his constituency, saying that more needed to be done to motivate soldiers in the frontline so as to win the war.
Jaha, who commended the Whip for bringing in the motion as matter of urgent public importance, stated that “the truth of the matter is, substantial number of geographical locations occupying Borno and other insurgency related areas are still under the occupation of Boko Haram whether we like it or not.’’
He said: “Let’s take for instance, in local government that has 13 electoral wards like my own, Gwoza, only three or four wards are not under the occupation of Boko Haram.
“In Chibok, I have 10 electoral wards, only two are not under the occupation of Boko Haram. In Damboa, I have 10 electoral wards, only one ward is not under the occupation of Boko Haram. This is as far as Chibok, Damboa, Gwoza Federal Constituency is concerned.
“The same thing; the Chief Whip of the House can bear me witness; out of the 10 local governments in northern Borno, only two local governments and their headquarters, are still not under the occupation of Boko Haram.”
Before he was eventually ruled out of order, Jaha canvassed for more funding for the military while alleging that soldiers on the frontline are being paid N500 per day totalling N15,000 in a month. He wondered how much such a soldier will send home to take care of his family.
The lawmaker said the target is to encourage soldiers on ground, adding that the federal government needs to accept the fact that Boko Haram population is less than five per cent of the Nigerian soldiers. He claimed that but because Boko Haram group is committed and stimulated, the terrorists are ready to bring the war to “our doorstep.”
“Our soldiers are not committed because they are not stimulated; they are not motivated; they are not ready to take the war to their doorstep. Inasmuch as we are not ready to stimulate them, motivate them, make them comfortable, give them insurance, provide insurance cover for each and every military man, definitely we are not going to win that war,” he stated.
The Speaker, Hon. Femi Gbajabiamila, said the motion was an offshoot of the Monday security meeting between the leadership of the House and service chiefs.
“As you are all aware, the leadership of the House and the heads of security committees met with the heads of security agencies – the security chiefs – behind closed doors for almost five hours yesterday (on Monday).
‘’This motion by Hon Monguno is a result of some of the outcomes of that meeting. And there will be a couple more, arising from that meeting, which we believe that we should put some legislations to enhance their work to help with the security issues concerning this country,” Gbajabiamila added.
However, when contacted on the phone to react to the lawmakers’ allegation that Boko Haram controls some territories in Borno State, the Theatre Commander of Operation Lafiya Dole, Maj. Gen. Olusegun Adeniyi, said he would not be able to answer such an inquiry on the phone.
But when our correspondent volunteered to come over to his office, he said he should not bother as responding to such an allegation would not have made him to rise to a Major General in the Nigerian Army.
Attempts to get the spokesman of Operation Lafiya Dole, Col. Ado Isa, to respond was also unsuccessful as he did not pick up his call when THISDAY called his telephone line.