Borno Governor, Professor Babagana Umara Zulum on Monday visited Jakana, one of the major towns along Maiduguri-Damaturu highway. During the visit, he expressed serious anger over what has become routine attacks on travelers and villagers by Boko Haram, like Friday’s abduction of over 30 travelers.
Zulum said it was disappointing that majority of the attacks within the last two years, took place between Auno and Jakana, a distance of about 20 kilometers.
Zulum said, “I have had occasions to defend the Nigerian military in order to boost the morale of commanders and their troops at the front lines because I know the true picture of things.
The governor added, “However, I am really disappointed that despite all support from both the federal government and from us in Borno state, our military is failing to secure an area of 20 kilometers, which is the distance between Auno and Jakana. And incidentally, majority of Boko Haram’s attacks along this Maiduguri-Damaturu-Kano road, keeps happening between Auno and Jakana.
“So, if the military cannot secure 20 kilometers, how can they keep us with the hope they will defeat the Boko Haram?” Zulum asked.
The governor also berated the army and his own state government established Rapid Response Squad made up of well-equipped policemen, vigilantes and local hunters, for lack of visibility along the Maiduguri-Damaturu road.Zulum believes this lack of visibility makes it feasible for Boko Haram to keep running their show in the same axis and on multiple occasions.
“With all you (journalists) we drove from Maiduguri to here, Jakana. We did not see soldiers on the road, we did not see even our own Rapid Response Squad on this road and they were trained, employed, kitted and paid to protect all Nigerians within their areas of operation and these Nigerians include travelers plying this busy and important road” the governor noted.
He recalled that this year alone, the insurgents carried out many attacks along Maiduguri-Damaturu-Kano road, including the one in February, in which over 30 persons including nursing mother and an infant were burnt to death as travelers.
Newsdiaryonline reports that military sources have privately queried Zulum’s often open verbal attacks on troops.The governor’s approach could be counter-productive military insiders have said. He needs to change his approach towards the military, sources advice.
Meanwhile, Zulum has assured residents along the embattled road that he was going to immediately hold a security meeting and hopefully come up with more measures to secure the highway. The governor urged citizens to continually support the military by sharing information that would generate credible intelligence on the activities of insurgents.
Meanwhile, the Defence Headquarters has faulted the governor’s reported claim against soldiers.
Reacting to media reports Monday, Major General John Enenche, Coordinator, Defence Media Operations, Defence Headquarters Abuja, said, “The attention of the Nigerian Military has been drawn to the media/air accusation by the Executive Governor of Borno State, that Nigerian Army personnel deployed at checkpoints in Operation Lafiya Dole collects money from commuters.
“While the Nigerian Military is in no way joining issues with the Governor, it is necessary to clarify this generalised statement against the troops who without hesitation lay down their lives for all Nigerians.
“It is worthy of note that the Armed Forces of Nigeria have internal mechanisms to checkmate and sanction appropriately its erring personnel.
“Additionally, reported cases from the public in this regard are investigated and given the desired attention.
“Thus, it will not be correct to rely on media or open-air accusation to tag our gallant Nigerian Army personnel as extortioners at checkpoints in Borno State.”