Military Capable of Winning War against Boko Haram, Buhari Insists

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  • Sends Boss Mustapha to Adamawa, to condole with Christians over murder of clerics by terrorists

By Omololu Ogunmade in Abuja and Daji Sani in Yola

Despite unending attacks, President Muhammadu Buhari yesterday insisted that, with a 30-month civil war experience, the Nigerian military is capable of winning the war against Boko Haram and competent to manage the crisis in the entire North-east.

He stated this while receiving the European Union Commissioner for Humanitarian and Crisis Management, Janez Lenarcic, in the State House, Abuja.

The President’s assertion came less than 24 hours after Boko Haram killed five people and abducted several others in Dikwa, Borno State. On the same day, Buhari sent the Secretary to the Government of the Federation, Boss Mustapha, to Adamawa, to condole with its Christian community over the killing of two clergymen last Monday by terrorists.

The President said: “If we were capable of fighting a 30-month civil war and reorganised our country, I wonder why people are thinking that Nigeria cannot do it.

“We have the experience of the civil war. I could recall the role of the military, the army; each commander had in his pocket how to behave himself, and how to allow international bodies like yourself to go round and see that people are treated in the most humane way.

“We have this experience and I assure you that we also have this confidence in your organisation. That is why I feel that Nigeria is capable of handling this crisis, it may take long but we are capable of handling it.”

Buhari also blamed the inability of the Nigerian military to subdue the insurgents on the increasing proliferation of arms in the G5 Sahel region.

He said, “The important thing really is weapons reaching the Sahel; the instability it is causing. Look at the casualties in Mauritania, Niger, Burkina Faso and Mali; Libya has a direct impact on the stability of the Sahel.

“As for Boko Haram, we try to disabuse the minds of the people and I think our people now understand the basic dishonesty in it. With my experience personally in the civil war, I am sure we will get over it.”

The President also told the EU that one of the next priorities of his regime was to rehabilitate Internally Displaced Persons in the North-east, adding that it informed his decision to create an exclusive Ministry of Humanitarian Affairs, Disaster Management and Social Development.

“I assure you of Nigeria’s commitment to enhance and deepen cooperation with the EU in all areas. Our priority in the next level is to ensure that Internally Displaced Persons, IDPs, are rehabilitated so that livelihood should be established and the children should not lose the opportunity to go back to school, which is very important for the future of that area and Nigeria generally.

“I assure you that we are aware of these problems and we will continue to do our best. The newly created Ministry of Humanitarian Affairs is coordinating NEMA and others, to make sure that whatever resources we get are well utilised. The ministry will be accountable to the government instead of having too many bodies doing the same thing. We are also reaching out to foreign countries explaining to them our position, and we are confident we will get over it.”

The EU Commissioner acknowledged Nigeria’s big role in African and requested a development plan between the EU and Nigeria concerning the issues in the North East.

He expressed the EU’s readiness to support Nigeria in ending the insurgency in the Northeast.

“We would like to support your efforts. We believe all relevant actors; military, civilian as well as humanitarian should come together. The Minister of Humanitarian Affairs is suggesting such high-level dialogue.

“In situations such as what we have in the northeast, international law and international humanitarian law should apply. We believe in your efforts to end the conflict; military effort alone probably will not be sufficient without identifying and addressing the socio-economic factors causing it,” he stated.

Boss Mustapha Leads FG Delegation to Condole with Adamawa Christian Community

The federal government yesterday sent a delegation to condole with Adamawa Christian community over the killing of two clergymen last Monday.

The Secretary to the Federal Government of Nigeria (SGF), Boss Mustapha, who led the delegation, expressed President Buhari’s sadness over the dastardly act.

He further revealed that the federal government was working assiduously to restore sanity in the land.

Mustapha urged the Christian community in Adamawa not to regard the killing of the two clergymen as threat against Christianity.

He said Nigerians should never yield to the antics of purveyors of violence who want to polarise them along religious lines.

“What happened is a sad moment in the history of the state and the nation, as efforts are being made by the present administration to secure lives and property of its citizens,” the SGF said.

He said government was working round the clock to address all forms of insecurity in the country and called for sober reflection over the murder of the two clergymen – Pastor Dennis Bagauri and Rev Lawal Andimi.

“The Federal Government is putting serious effort into averting Boko Haram, but all of a sudden, kidnapping, banditry and other acts of criminality have taken the center stage, especially in the northern states.

“Insiders must be collaborating with outsiders to perpetrate these heinous acts,” he said.

The SGF called for calm and tolerance, urging Nigerians not to bring issues that will bring more grief to the affected communities.

He prayed God to grant the slain clergymen eternal rest and the Christian community the fortitude to bear the irreparable loss.

Responding, the chairman, Christian Association of Nigeria (CAN), Adamawa State chapter, Bishop Stephen Dami Mamza, stated that Buhari “has softened our hearts with the high power delegation to commiserate with the Christian community in the State.”

He added that the visit had given Christians assurances of hope and sense of belonging.

The CAN Chairman assured that the Christian community would team up with the Muslim community to flush out undesirable elements that are causing bad blood between the two major faiths.

Mamza added that the people causing enmity between Christians and Muslims in the society were quite small compared to the larger society.

He said the cordial relationship existing between Christians and Muslims would continue to wax stronger “despite the antics of terrorists who want to truncate the existing convivial relationship.”

The Boko Haram insurgents had earlier in the month abducted the CAN chairman of Michika local government, Andimi and executed him last Monday despite the effort of the church which tried to secure his freedom, a development that caused disquiet in Nigeria.

Boko Haram Kills 5 in Dikwa

Meanwhile, Boko Haram attacked Dikwa, Borno State late on Thursday, killing five people and abducted several others as they collected firewood in the bush.

“A group gathered and went outside the town to collect firewood but Boko Haram terrorists attacked them, killing five of them,” an anti-jihadist militia leader, Babakura Kolo, told AFP.

“The loggers fled and some of them were abducted by the attackers while trying to escape.”

Dikwa is home to more than 70,000 people displaced by the jihadist violence who live in several camps where they rely on food and humanitarian assistance from aid agencies.

Many have turned to felling trees from the surrounding bushland to sell as firewood to make money to buy extra provisions.

Boko Haram have increasingly targeted loggers, herders, and fishermen in their violent campaign, accusing them of spying and passing information to the military and the local militia fighting them.