The Worsening Security Situation In Borno

The security situation in Borno State has, no doubt, become a matter of national emergency as the state Governor; Kashim Shettima has expressed grave concern over the deteriorating situation in the last three months. Speaking at an extraordinary security meeting at Government House in Maiduguri, Governor Shettima who said he was “avoiding a sort of dramatisation or being sensational” about the security challenges in Borno State however lamented the reality of uncertainty of improved security in the State in spite of the efforts by the military and other security agencies to combat threat to peace.

In recent months, security facilities; particularly military formations in Borno and the neighbouring Yobe states have witnessed renewed bombardments from increasingly audacious Boko Haram terrorists resulting in the death of yet to be ascertained number of soldiers. The worst of the renewed assault on military formations by Boko Haram insurgents in Borno state took place on the 18th of November, 2018 resulting in heavy casualties on the side of the Nigerian forces. Although military authorities insist 23 soldiers died when the Nigerian Army 157 Task Force Battalion at Melete attacked, reports by independent sources however suggest higher death toll. The fact that there has been several other attacks on military formations in Borno and Yobe further attests to the worsening state of insecurity in Borno and the northeast.

There is no doubt main section of the Nigerian society has, for too long, been forced to accept denial on the true position of security situation in Borno and the neighbouring states. The recent lamentation of Governor Shettima therefore bares eloquent testimony to the growing uncertainty in the northeast and not just Borno state. It is also instructive the concerns of Governor Shettima over the deteriorating insecurity in Borno has amplified the frustration of other state chief executives who have in recent times bemoaned the insecurity situation in their domains. While Governors Aminu Tambuwal of Sokoto and Aminu Misari of Katsina states have openly demanded improved security presence to tackle grinding insecurity situation in their domains, it should be worrisome that Governor Abdul-aziz Yari of Zamfara who had earlier threatened to relinquish the role of chief security officer of his state has also openly endorsed state of emergency as possible solution to the seemingly intractable banditry that has led to thousands of deaths in the northwest flank of the country.

It should be worrisome that in spite of the multinational efforts at combating the threats of Boko Haram, the challenge seems to have overwhelmed the Nigerian military. Considering the huge casualties recorded by the military in the last two or three months, it appears there is the need to rethink the refrain in government’s quarters that Boko Haram forces have been substantially degraded.We believe that rather than pretending Boko Haram is no longer a serious threat, the military, more than hitherto, needs strategic fine-tuning of its combat readiness against a terrorist group once dismissed by President Muhammadu Buhari as ragtag forces.

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It is disturbing that while government continues to deploy colossal resource in fighting the war against Boko Haram, the approach to granting amnesty and subsequent release of terrorists apprehended by the military has remained a matter of grave concern. Indeed, there is a growing concern that Boko Haram elements have remained unrelenting in wrecking havocs and abduction of innocent Nigerians; particularly young school girls, while government has been paying ransom to insurgents without securing concrete commitment to ceasefire. The approach to engaging so-called repentant Boko Haram fighters would appear to have been largely counter-productive as nefarious activities by the insurgents seem to have been bolstered ostensibly partly from the ransoms secured from the government.

It should be disturbing that the Nigerian military is yet to formally account for the over 100 soldiers who were widely reported to be missing after Boko Haram overran its base in Melete. There is no doubt this disturbing developement in addition to the growing sense of danger amongst security personnel must have partly orchestrated the recent defection of policemen deployed to assist in combat operations. Government therefore must appreciate the growing sense of frustration amongst Nigerians regarding the situation in the northeast. Government must appreciate the need for ungency in tackling the perennial security emergencies in Borno state and elswhere. It is a sad commentary on the sovereignty of the country if the grinding insecurity in the northeast has refused to take the back seat four years after similar uncertainty heralded the general election.



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