Members of the House of Representatives have called on the Nigerian Army to change strategy from being defensive to being offensive in the war against Boko Haram and Islamic State’s West Africa Province in the North-East.
At the plenary on Tuesday, a member from Borno State, Haruna Mshellia, had moved a motion of urgent public importance to decry the recent attacks by terrorists.
The motion was titled, ‘Need to Immediately Mobilise More Security Personnel to Communities Bordering the Sambisa Due to Incessant Attacks, Provide Relief Materials to Displaced People and as a Matter of Urgency Rescue Four Askira Emirate Council Members Abducted by Insurgents, Islamic State of West African Province, a Week Ago.’
In his contribution, another member from Borno State, Ahmad Jaha, stated that the Army cannot take credit for the mass surrendering of insurgents in recent time, attributing the development to the death of their leader, Ahmed Shekau, and the need for them to be free.
Speaking on the killing of Brig-Gen Dzarma Zirkusu and three other soldiers in an attack on Saturday, Jaha said, “These guys (terrorists) came with more than 10 gun trucks and two M-Raps that were voluntarily submitted to the insurgents. Why do I say voluntarily submitted? As rightly said by the Nigerian Army, 60 of these M-Raps were supplied to Nigeria and they took four from Lagos to Maiduguri, headquarters of Operation Lafiya Dole.
“It took them two days to get to Maiduguri. About 200 kilometres to Maiduguri, they packed at a village called Damagun, headquarters of Fune Local Government Area for more than a day, facing Maiduguri. Even a lunatic can understand that these trucks, with these weapons, are heading to Maiduguri. So, anybody who has intention to attack can definitely mount an ambush.”
The lawmaker added, “Secondly, only two trucks escorted these M-Raps loaded on a low bed. From where they collected these M-Raps to Boko Haram camp, it will take you one and half hours driving on a tarred road. There was no effort either to recover them or destroy them.
“Now, the insurgents are using them against innocent citizens, particularly those ready to sacrifice themselves. There is a need for this House to investigate why and how these two M-Raps hit into the hands of ISWAP.
“I want to emphasise the need to change strategy. Whether we like it or not, you cannot sit in your comfort zone waiting for the insurgents to come and attack you so that you can repel them. As long as the Nigerian Army resorts to defensive strategy, this war is not going to finish. We have to use offensive strategy by taking the war to them so that we can destabilise them. They will not have the luxury of time and comfort of position to come and attack communities.”
Moving the motion, Mshelia said in the last two weeks, three communities of Klangar (Ngohi Ward), Gyerha (Kida Ward) and Askira, the headquarters of Askira Uba LGA, were at different times attacked by Boko Haram. “The last episode was on Saturday, the 13th of November, 2021,” he said.
According to the lawmaker, during such attacks, private and public properties are burnt down, stores with food items looted and all people living in these areas displaced into nearby bushes with all the risks and consequences that follow.
“Lives are lost especially of our gallant security personnel and unfortunate civilians caught up in the middle of crossfire,” he said.
Mshelia said, “The House is informed that still within this zone, four members of Askira Emirates Council were abducted while trying to travel between Askira and Maiduguri, the state capital. As at time of writing this, no news of their whereabouts one week after their abduction, and two of them have health challenges.
“The House is concerned that though our security personnel are doing their very best, their numbers and equipment available to them are grossly inadequate to protect all the communities on the fringes of the Sambisa Forest.
“The House is further concerned that the insurgents, when they attacked Askira, came with 16 gun trucks and two M-RAPS, observers say, meaning kinetically that they have dominated the region. This by no means a situation the country can handle with kid’s gloves.
“The House is worried that with the Yuletide season is upon us, their attacks will only increase as the bush paths they normally follow are now dry and now motorable by their standards. Some of the communities have already received notices from the insurgents of impending attacks.”
Adopting the motion, the House urged the military authorities to “station at least a battalion of personnel and appropriate equipment at Mandiragrau, Askira and Garkida communities; NEMA to immediately provide all the communities affected with relief materials to cushion the effects of the attacks on the citizens; and NEDC to provide foodstuff to all the communities affected as most of the just harvested food crops have been looted.”
The House also urged the Inspector-General of Police, Usman Baba, to collaborate with other security outfits to “ensure immediate and unconditional release of the four unfortunate members of my constituency abducted one week ago.”