Massive troops deployment in Adamawa, Yobe, Borno
Troops moved into cities in the Northeast yesterday to enforce President Goodluck Jonathan’s emergency rule declaration.
Residents were frightened by the sight of many army trucks carrying soldiers into Yola and Maiduguri. Borno, Adamawa and Yobe are now under emergency rule, following attacks by militants of the Boko Haram group.
A Reuters reporter saw six trucks carrying soldiers enter Yola, the capital of Adamawa State. In the Borno State capital, Maiduguri, the biggest city in the area and birthplace of the insurgency, residents also reported an influx of troops.
The mood was tense in the city. Shops were mostly shut and there were few people on the streets. Schools were closed.
Residents were worried that the 9pm to 6am curfew in place may be extended.
“What I saw this morning scared me,” said Maiduguri resident Ahmed Mari. “I have never seen soldiers on the move quite like this before.”
Another, Kabir Laoye, said he was scared that civilians could be caught up in the conflict: “There is a lot of apprehension about the state of emergency,” he said.
Some state government officials doubted the state of emergency would work unless security forces can win popular support.
“This state of emergency will not change anything if the people do not cooperate and start exposing members of Boko Haram,” said David John, a director in the state government.
President Goodluck Jonathan has ordered the Nigerian Armed Forces to take over the patrol of the nation’s borders.
The main thrust of the patrol is to track down criminal elements within the vicinity of border communities prone to terrorist activities.
A statement by the Director of Defence Information, Brigadier General Chris Olukolade, yesterday said the troops were made up of the Armed Forces, the police and other security agencies.
Gen. Olukolade added that the troops would also focus on every suspected terrorist enclave and cell in the various border communities.
The statement reads: “In furtherance of the Commander-in-Chief’s directive, the Nigerian Armed Forces, the Nigeria Police and other security agencies have commenced operations to rid the nation’s border territories of terrorist bases and activities.
“The operations, which will involve massive deployment of men and resources, is aimed at asserting the nation’s territorial integrity and enhancing the security of constituted governmental structures in all territories within Nigeria’s borders.
“The operational plans have also briefed participating troops appropriately on arrests, cordon and search, especially directed at apprehending those who have been violating sovereignty of Nigeria through terrorist training for insurgency and related activities.
“The operation is expected to put an end to insurgent activities in these parts of the country.
The Defence Headquarters said measures had been put in place to ensure the safety of civilians and non-combatants while the operation lasts.
The authorities of the Armed Forces enjoined communities in the border areas to cooperate with troops and give information on criminal and terrorist activities.
They are also enjoined to report suspicious activities or movements in their various localities, they said, stressing that the operation is intended to safeguard the nation’s interests and citizens in all parts of the federation.
Borno Governor Kashim Shettima backed the imposition of a state of emergency on his state.
He begged residents to avoid being caught by the strange rules.
He also warned the military to operate under the rules of engagement so that innocent lives and their properties are protected.
Shettima, in a broadcast, pleaded with Boko Haram to accept dialogue offer by the Federal Government.
He said: “Fellow citizens, as you may be aware, the President, Commander-in-Chief of the Armed Forces of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, Dr Goodluck Ebele Jonathan, has in exercise of his constitutional powers, declared a state of emergency in our dear State, following the spate of killings and destruction of properties, that have pervaded us.
“It is the constitutional responsibility of the President to take such measures. It is also the duty of any responsible state government, to support lawful efforts that would guarantee the security of lives and properties.
“ It can never be the wish of any guarded democratic government to have the military directly involved in the affairs of any federating unit, except for unfortunate and painful causes.
“As the military leaders have said in discourses, the armoury of the Nigerian soldiers is not meant to fight fellow Nigerians; the armoury is meant to protect fellow Nigerians.
“A human life is sacred, more so, the life of every good Nigerian, no matter whose it is; and we all have moral, spiritual and social obligations to preserve and respect the lives of one another as we would want ours to be so preserved and respected. Allah has said emphatically in the Holy Quran that he has dignified every human being, He has placed high premium on the sacredness of human lives and as His dignified creatures; we should obediently respect the lives of fellow creatures.
“Let us be our brothers’ keepers, hold our arms in the true Borno spirit that we were hitherto known for, so that we rise together as one people with shared passion for our collective progress.
“We are facing a trying time that I believe without blind optimism, that we will overcome in no distant time bi iznillah.”
The governor urged the people to avoid being caught by the strange rules of emergency situation.
He added: “A period of state of emergency is that which comes with rules that are different from those that guide our day-to-day lives. We must, therefore, take personal steps as citizens, to avoid being caught by the strange rules.
“I have directed the State Ministry of Home Affairs, Information and Culture to work out public safety enlightenment programmes that should be regularly featured on the Borno State Television and Radio while I urge our partners and friends in other media organisations resident in the state to help in educating citizens on public conducts at this different time that we face together.
“Let me use this opportunity to importantly urge the military who are fellow Nigerians like all of us, to abide by the directive of Mr President in operating under the rules of engagement so that innocent lives and their properties are jealously preserved and protected.
“As time passes, we shall, as a government, remain focused in our abiding fate and commitment to improve the welfare of all citizens through quality governance.”
He appealed to Boko Haram to sheathe its sword by embracing dialogue being offered by President Jonathan.
He said: “I will seize this opportunity for the umpteenth time, to call on our brothers in the Jama’atu ahliss Sunnah lil Da’awatu wal Jihad to embrace dialogue so that we can solve this problem on the table through collective bargaining, offers and compromises.
“I am glad to note that the Presidential Committee on Dialogue and Peaceful Resolution, is still working round the clock as also emphasized by the President. I believe like I have always said since 2011, that by the end of the day, dialogue will be the last and sustainable resort. Let us embrace the spirit of live and let’s live.”
The governor admitted that he has been grieving over the situation in Borno State.
He said: “Dear fellow citizens, I address you today with heavy heart and grief. I join you in mourning your families, friends and other loved ones who may have lost their lives to the security challenges that we face in Borno State; I commiserate with you for the injuries, you or your loved ones may have suffered and for the properties you may have lost as we are confronted with a nightmare that has haunted us for far too long.
“I am usually thrown into emotional torture any time a life is lost in Borno, especially by man-made brutality, because as your governor, I am under obligation, constitutional and moral, to ensure your safety.
“As your leader, I consider myself a father to all orphans, a brother and friend to everyone of you, a son to every parent and a member of every family in Borno State, regardless of religion, tribe and geo-political affiliation.
“I share in your moments of despair more than you can ever imagine because regardless of the intrinsic worth of any programme and projects put in place by any government, however laudable, a citizen has to be alive or safe to enjoy the benefits of such programme or project.
“ Therefore, the most important role of any responsible government is the security of lives and properties.”
Kashim unfolded plans to come out with social package which would address the mass poverty breeding crises in the state.
He said: “May I also add at the risk of sounding repetitive, that the best way to fight crime is to provide jobs through integrated agriculture and other industrial growth.
“We are very conscious of the fact that there is mass poverty and unemployment and as you may have confirmed from our ongoing programmes across the State, we are creating jobs and we will continue to do.
“I urge you to fervently pray for the return of peace in our dear Borno State and in all other parts of Nigeria, to pave the way for rapid recovery and the socio-economic transformation that we so desperately seek to put in place as a government.
“I thank you so much for your support and wish every one of you, Allah’s guidance and protection.”