Niyi Odebode, John Alechenu, Olusola Fabiyi and Friday Olokor
The Peoples Democratic Party, the Campaign for Democracy, the Christian Association of Nigeria and other socio-political groups have cautioned President Muhammadu Buhari against declaring victory over Boko Haram.
The party and groups, which also included the Yoruba socio-political organisation, Afenifere, described the killings in the Southern Kaduna as an embarrassment to the Federal Government.
They urged the President to do more in order to stop the killings in Southern Kaduna and intensify the war against the Boko Haram insurgency.
The national caretaker committee of the PDP said it would be wrong for Buhari to claim victory recorded by the Armed Forces for the takeover of Sambisa Forest from the Boko Haram.
The main opposition party insisted that former President Goodluck Jonathan played a pivotal role while in government to defeat the sect.
Spokesperson for the Senator Ahmed Makarfi-led committee, Dayo Adeyeye, stated this in an interview with one of our correspondents.
Adeyeye also said the claim by the All Progressives Congress-led Federal Government on the fall of the forest had yet to be independently verified.
He nevertheless asked Nigerians to refresh their memories on the success he claimed recorded by the regime of Jonathan, which he believed made it possible for elections to hold in almost all the local government areas in the North-East in 2015.
The former minister of state for works said, “The President cannot solely claim responsibility for the success he claimed the Armed Forces recorded in reclaiming Sambisa Forest from the Boko Haram.
“This is because the regime of former President Jonathan had done a lot in the war against terror.
“This was why elections were held in almost all the local government areas in Borno State and the entire North-East in 2015.
“Though there has been no independent verification of the claim, the President ought to give kudos to the regime of Jonathan that bought the weapons being used to fight the war.”
Adeyeye added that it would be too early to claim victory over the terror group, saying the killing of a suicide bomber and the arrest of another in Borno State were testimonies that the war was not over yet.
“We are all aware that propaganda is a tool being used by this government to deceive Nigerians. We hope this is also not another one,” he added.
Adeyeye also chided the President on the activities of the herdsmen, saying the group had been named as the fourth terrorist group in the world.
He said if the President was so desirous of ridding the country of terror groups, he should pay serious attention to the menace of the cattle rearers.
The PDP spokesman wondered why the President had been allegedly looking the other way with the daily killings of innocent people in Southern Kaduna and the entire country.
“We should ask the President why he keeps quiet over the activities of the killer herdsmen. What is he doing about it?
“The herdsmen are now the number four terror group in the world. Nigerians should ask the President to act,” he added.
Also, the National Publicity Secretary of the Yoruba sociopolitical group, Afenifere, Yinka Odumakin, faulted the Federal Government’s claim on the capture of Sambisa Forest.
He said, “The government should know that it makes no sense to claim easy victory in the battle against terror. Any time they weave their victory story, Boko Haram bursts it with a bang. They should learn to be more circumspect. Propaganda should have a limit.
“Suicide bombing is a very difficult thing to deal with because you don’t know the camp of the bombers, but intelligence gathering is important.
“The Southern Kaduna crisis is a sore point and a glaring embarrassment to the administration as it has not been handled well.”
On his part, the President of Campaign for Democracy, Bako Usman, said the government must have the political will to stop the killings by herdsmen.
According to him, the Federal government and the Nigerian Army are eager in making pronouncements as regards the war against insurgency.
He stated, “The best the government of the day should be doing is to seek redress of such activities through intelligent gathering by all the security apparatus.
“Again, it is a fact that the amalgamation of the Northern and Southern protectorates in 1914 raised suspicion and conflicts of interest among the various ethnic nationalities due to the effect of divide and rule and indirect rule system.
“The need to revisit the debate to restructure Nigeria in order to reflect our diversity in adherence with global principles and best practices of fairness, equity and justice cannot be overemphasised.
“This is more so because over the years now, we have gone from good to worst, due to years of bad governance, ethno-religious crisis, supremacy conflicts, regional tensions and agitations for resource control. This can also create succour on the agitators and rejuvenate peace and harmony among ethic nationalities.”
Reacting to the killings in Southern Kaduna, the Director, Legal and Public Affairs, CAN, Kwamkur Samuel, said the government needed to review security management in the country.
He stated, “Managing security challenges in the country needs to be viewed holistically. As long as the Fulani militias are still killing unarmed and innocent Nigerians confirms that there is a need for a more permanent solution than the media celebrations.
On the capture of Sambisa Forest, Samuel said, “We received with shock the unabated explosion of bombs in Maiduguri despite the celebration of victory by the Armed Forces and the Federal Government. It’s obvious that the celebration of victory is coming too early because Sambisa Forest cannot be said to have been conquered without rescuing the Chibok girls who are said to be with the terrorists in the forest.
We must address the neglect of Southern Kaduna –Senator
A member of the National Assembly from Kaduna State, Senator Shehu Sani, has called for the establishment of a civilian Joint Task Force to complement the military in addressing the incessant killings in Southern Kaduna.
Sani, who represents Kaduna Central Senatorial District in the Senate, also called for the involvement of the Miyetti Allah Cattle Breeders Association in finding a lasting solution to the killings.
Speaking in a telephone interview with The PUNCH in Abuja on Monday, the lawmaker stated that peace efforts would only last when the issue of the economic neglect of the people of the area was addressed.
He said, “We need a civilian JTF to complement the military. We also need to involve the Miyetti Allah Cattle Breeders Association, that should properly document its members for easy identification.”
The worst is over, FG insists
But the Federal Government has congratulated the troops of the Nigerian military. In a statement on Monday, the Minister of Information and Culture, Alhaji Lai Mohammed, appealed to Nigerians to continue to support the troops as they cleared the remnants of the terrorists who were on the run.
He also called for increased vigilance among Nigerians, saying Boko Haram escapees sought to integrate themselves into communities far and near, stating that they should be vigilant.
He said, ‘We urge Nigerians to keep our gallant and victorious troops in their prayers and to also imbibe the mantra of ‘if you see something, say something’ as a way of ensuring that no escaped terrorist is able to wreak havoc on their communities.
“It is also important to know that now that they have been dispossessed of their fortress, the Boko Haram escapees will intensify their cowardly attacks on vulnerable targets if only to maintain an illusion of terror, but there should be no panic because the worst is over.’’
He said overall, the leadership provided by Buhari provided the much-needed impetus for the military’s victory in the North-East and urged Nigerians to continue to give their unalloyed support to the President in his untiring efforts to restore peace and security across the country and also to revamp the economy.
Also, the President’s spokesman, Femi Adesina, in an interview with Channels Television on Monday, said Buhari never said the Boko Haram war was over, stating that the President was misinterpreted in the media.
“If you look at the President’s word for word, there is no place you will see him saying that (the victory) signposts the defeat of the Boko Haram. No, it is an interpretation of the press,” he added.
On the killings in Southern Kaduna, Adesina said the state Governor, Mallam Nasir el-Rufai, “is on the top of the matter.”
Adesina, while speaking on Channels TV, said, “You don’t have to hear from the President on that matter. You see, when it pays us, we talk about federalism and true federalism, yet you want the President and Presidency to talk about everything.” “When things like this happen in a state, there is a chief security officer; he is supposed to be on top of the matter. Governor el-Rufai was at the villa on Thursday to brief the President. So, why should the President then be talking about it?
“True federalism isthat the governor should be in charge and he is in charge of it.”
Adesina also stated that state and local governments should be involved in dealing with herdsmen crisis.
“When these herdsmen attacks happen, you need to see what the President is doing, always on the line with the governors and talking with them and getting updates,” he said.
The presidential candidate of the Allied Congress Party of Nigeria in 2015 election, Alhaji Ganiyu Galadima, said security forces should be prepared for what he described as guerrilla attacks from the displaced terrorists.
Galadima stated, “Agreed that Boko Haram has been smashed, the government should be prepared for guerrilla attacks on soft targets by the now scattered members of the sect. The war cannot be said to be over until all remnants of Boko Haram are squarely dealt with.
“However, security challenges facing the country are yet to be fully addressed by this government. There are recurring mass killings of people in Zamfara State, recurring genocide in Southern Kaduna, rampant and unchecked killings of farmers by Fulani herdsmen across Nigeria and kidnapping and armed robbery by the Fulani across Nigeria.