Death of Colonel Bako and the Memo from Elders

RingTrue with Yemi Adebowale,; 08054699539 (text only)

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Few weeks ago, a senior officer told me the story of Colonel D.C Bako and his bravery on the war front in Borno State. It was how this late Commander of 25 Task Force Brigade, Damboa, often led his officers and men from the front against Boko Haram. According to the informant, Bako was fighting the terrorists with all his might. I was really excited and saw him as another Colonel Abu Ali, who fought the terrorists with his last blood. I also looked forward to talking to Bako as I had requested for his contact details. Unfortunately, during one of his clearance operations at Sabon Gari-Wajiroko axis near Damboa last Sunday, Bako’s team was ambushed by the terrorists. The courageous warrior called Bako was badly injured. Bako did not recover. He paid the supreme price for beloved Nigeria. Goodnight Colonel Bako. This happened in Borno State where the terrorists still control territories and over one million IDPs can’t return home.

This late officer was loved by all for his gallantry and patriotism. That was why Governor Babagana Zulum described him as a true soldier who inspired his troops and led them to front lines with exceptional courage that was clearly out of pure patriotism.

Zulum added: “He fought very hard and very well. He defeated many enemies of peace and protected many sons and daughters of Borno State to the extent that he gave his life defending the people of Borno. By the grace of God, the supreme sacrifices made by Colonel Bako and many other heroes like him in the armed forces shall not be in vain. The death of our heroes, sad as it is, only reinforces our confidence in the strong will exhibited by our gallant troops and volunteers that defending our country comes ahead of everything. The people of Borno will forever be grateful to the late Col. Bako and everyone like him.”

That was the true colour of Bako. Painfully, he has joined the long list of senior officers who lost their lives to Boko Haram. I will never forget the likes of Lt. Colonel O. Umusu, Lt. Colonel K Yusuf, Lt. Colonel Abu Ali, Lt. Colonel B. U. Umar, Lt. Col. Yusuf Aminu, Captain Victor Ulasi, Lt. Col. A. E Mamudu, Lt. Col. Ibrahim Sakabaand Lt. Col. Azubuike. These senior officers were killed by Boko Haram. How I wish the murderers were smoked out and slaughtered. It’s so sad that the terrorists are getting away with a lot of killings. Hundreds of officers and men of the military and thousands of civilians have been killed by Boko Haram in the last 10 years. For how long will the killings persist? The terrorists seem to have better intelligence network. This is why they often ambush our soldiers.

There is a long list of successful waylays by the terrorists. The one I will never forget was the deadliest massacres of Nigerian soldiers by Boko Haram in Metele, Borno State, in November 2018. Scores of soldiers were killed at 157 Task Force Battalion in Metele. The exact casualty figure is still a closely-guided secret till today. The commander of the battalion, Lt. Col. Ibrahim Sakaba was also killed. I thought the military will go after the terrorists with venom. Nothing happened.

Boko Haram terrorists have been obviously emboldened by the weary tactics of our ill-equipped and ill-motivated military. Our soldiers are doing their best but lack the capacity/equipment to end this war. The strategy for getting result against Boko Haram is largely through intelligence and aerial power. Technology, quality equipment and quality manpower will be needed. Here, we should be talking about quality fighter jets and quality armoured attack helicopters. The military evidently lacks the competence and equipment for these. Nigeria has been needlessly losing hundreds of its gallant soldiers to Boko Haram because of these failings.

President Buhari assumed power in 2015 with a pledge to exterminate the terrorists. Almost five years down the line, this country has gone deeper into this mess, with the terrorists gaining more strength. Billions of U.S. Dollars have gone down the drain for purchase of equipment for the military, yet the soldiers are persistently complaining about being poorly equipped.

The likes of Bashir Magashi, Gabriel Olonisakin, Tukur Buratai and, Sadique Abubakar, have no business staying a day longer in office. They must go. These people have done more harm than good to the war against Boko Haram. A forward-looking government would have overhauled this languid leadership. I find it difficult to comprehend why terrorists consistently take the fight to our soldiers.

The statement released this week by some North-east leaders, under the aegis of Coalition of North-east Elders for Peace and Development, on the Boko Haram crisis is instructive. They demanded decisive actions to end Boko Haram terrorism, saying, “The excuses being tendered by the service chiefs are no longer tenable.”

The group told President Buhari: “The worsening security situation in the country is further reinforcing the urgent need to inject new hands with fresh ideas to han¬dle the nation’s security archi¬tecture. We have seen that the security situation under the current service chiefs has reached an unbearable state.

“There is no denying the fact that at this moment, the entire nation is distressed by the incessant mind¬less killing of our citizens and pillaging of defenseless com¬munities by insurgents, ban¬dits and kidnappers. There is also no denying the fact that these have resulted in indescribable torment of Nigerians.
The group headed by Zana Goni, called on the President to remove the service chiefs and “bring in new hands to effectively confront the secu¬rity challenges starring us in our face as a nation.”

On the flip side, it is disheartening that nine months after the Nigerian contingent returned from the United Nations Peace-Keeping Mission in Guinea Bissau, some soldiers are yet to be paid their field allowances. Authorities of the Nigerian Army should pay the soldiers affected without further delay. The soldiers are entitled to $9,000 for the 12-month operation. While some were paid part of the allowances, others got nothing.

Justice for Miss Bonko and Miss Abugu

For those who have not been following the stories, a quick recap. Miss Bonko is an NYSC member serving in Rivers State who fell into the hands of some “pastors from hell” in the state and was raped. On the other hand, Miss Ifeoma Abugu was a 28-year-old graduate, arrested in place of her boyfriend by Abuja SARS and died in controversial circumstances.
The 27-year-old NYSC member from Plateau State, serving in Obio/Akpor Local Government Area of Rivers State, was lured to the house of the pastors, supposedly for healing and deliverance, but was hypnotised and raped. Miss Bonko joined the Pentecostal church few weeks after arriving Rivers State. The poor lady was invited to the house on August 29, which coincided with her birthday, and had no reason to be suspicious. The pastors asked her to sow her mobile phone as a seed before they started conducting the said deliverance. The last thing she remembered was that the pastors robbed oil on her while praying and she slept off. She said as soon as she woke up the next day, she noticed bruises on the surface and inside her private part.

The poor lady’s parents rushed to Port Harcourt to put pressure on the police to arrest the wayward pastors. The pastors from abyss were eventually detained but the young woman’s father, Timothy Bonko, is worried that they are yet to be arraigned. The investigation seems to be taking too long. The International Federation of Women Lawyers has joined in the search for justice for this young woman. All forces of good must put pressure on the police in Rivers to do the needful by charging the accused. Justice must prevail. One more thing: We must persistently discourage our children from hugging these Pentecostal churches from hell. There are so many of them around these days.

Now to Ifeoma, arrested in lieu of her boyfriend by Abuja SARS, and later died. Policemen, on September 10, stormed the residence of her fiancé, Afam Ugwunwa, at Wumba village in the Lokogoma area of Abuja to arrest him. He was not found and they
arrested Ifeoma. Nobody can be arrested in lieu of a suspect. The law is very clear about this. The new Police Act signed by Buhari also makes this very clear. The Abuja police authorities must deal with all those that arrested late Ifeoma. They must face the law. The family of the deceased insists she was sexually assaulted and died in the custody of the SARS personnel of the FCT.

Ifeoma’s brother, Alex said: “When my uncles saw the picture of her corpse, they saw signs that she was sexually assaulted. We’re waiting for the result of an autopsy to ascertain what happened to her.”
The family’s lawyer, Ifeanyi Mamah adds: “The family of the deceased has not seen the corpse. The picture we have is the one the IPO snapped and sent to us from the hospital where her corpse was deposited; from the picture of the deceased, it appeared she was sexually assaulted before her death.”

The FCT police authorities must ensure that Ifeoma’s case is well investigated. Reports on the case from the police have not been encouraging. Ifeoma’s lawyer has already petitioned IG Mohammed Adamu, saying, “Our clients are not confident that the division will do justice in the matter…we appeal that you use your highly esteemed office to ensure that proper investigation is carried out, that the culprits be brought to book and justice done.”

Let us all rise and demand for Justice for Miss Bonko and late Miss Ifeoma Abugu.

Insecurity: Gbajabiamila Hits the Nail on the Head

Femi Gbajabiamila

One of the factors that have sustained the raging insecurity across our country is the persistent lies by those charged with the responsibility of securing us. This is why blood, tears and pain have persevered with Boko Haram in the North-east, bandits and kidnappers in the North-west, while captors and armed robbers terrorise the South. So, it was heartwarming seeing a key member of the Buhari government, the Speaker of the House of Representatives, Femi Gbajabiamila, telling the truth to the Nigeria authorities. The Speaker, who spoke in Abuja, while declaring open a workshop on promoting effective legislation and oversight of the security sector, admitted that the spate of insecurity had disrupted the life of the people as a nation, as well as threatening the continued existence of the country. He warned against the dire consequences of allowing the security crises to persist.

My take away from Gbajabiamila’s speech are: “We are at this moment experiencing in many parts of our country, significant internal security challenges that have disrupted the lives of many of our citizens and led to loss of lives and property at a scale that cannot easily be quantified. These internal security challenges threaten the very existence of the Nigerian state because they undermine public faith in the government’s ability to fulfill its fundamental obligation to protect the lives and property of citizens.

“The realities of the moment require that we should be willing to speak honest truths about the things we haven’t gotten right so that we can then focus our energies on making sure that we do better for the future. I encourage all of you to remember that a lot of the hopes that we have for our country depends on our ability to guarantee the safety of our people and the security of property and investments. And from this remembrance, I hope we can find the motivation to do all that this moment requires of us.”
This is the truth that must be told. The buck stops on Buhari’s table. He has to shape in or ship out. The pain across our country is excruciating.