North East elders have reiterated its call for removal of Service Chiefs to strengthen the war against terrorism and banditry.
The elders, under the aegis of Coalition of North East Elders for Peace and Development (CNEEPD), said the protests continued after scrapping of the Special Anti-Robbery Squad (SARS) because of frustration occasioned by worsening insecurity in the country.
The group noted the disbandment of the unit was not the end to insecurity, insisting that “general restructuring of the sector starting with the removal of the Service Chiefs was the best way moving forward”.
They had kicked against the planned move by the Chief of Army Staff,Lt. General Tukur Buratai to launch a new operation Codenamed “Operation Fireball” to tackle insecurity in the North East., Daily Times gathered.
The elders, in a statement by its National Chairman, Engr Zana Goni, said the declaration by Buratai to launch the operation was diversionary, saying it was “new wine in an old bottle.”
“We read in the news the renewed pledge by the Chief of Army Staff,Lt. General Tukur Buratai to launch new operation to tackle the worsening insecurity in the North,particularly in the North East following increasing activities of Boko Haram elements in the region.
“The Chief of Army Staff,who was quoted in the news as saying the country was approaching its critical stage in the counterterrorism stage, had promised to launch a new operation which he called “Operation Fireball,” saying it was the final onslaught against Boko Haram insurgency,” the statement read.
According to them: “As a body of elders deeply rooted in peace advocacy in the country,particularly in the North, we see this plan as welcome development, given the worsening insecurity in our region. However,we wish to state that like many other pledges in the past,Buratai’s promise could be another way of getting President Muhammadu Buhari to back down on his plan to immediately restructure the security architecture which he fears would affect him.
“If President Muhammadu Buhari’s reasons for keeping the service chiefs whom he was supposed to have replaced due to overdue tenure, were because they were doing well in the fight against terrorism, neither the Senate nor Nigerians would be asking him to sack them.”
“Besides, it’s often said that one good turn deserves another. But reserve is the case as they’re underperforming. Civilians and soldiers are being killed every day by men of the underworld (Boko Haram), and other defiant sects. There are no safe places in the country again.
The group noted: “Recently, over 200 experienced soldiers were reported to have resigned. The Nigerian Army would later debunk it, but investigative efforts by some media outfits contradicts the position of the military authorities.
“Besides the recent news of resignation of over 200 soldiers, there were periods our media were pervaded with the videos in which some Nigerian soldiers were cussing and blasting the Chief of Army Staff, Lieutenant General Tukur Buratai, for not supplying them the needed weapons and ammunition to combat the Boko Haram terrorists. Most of these videos were made in the theatre of operations”.
It continued: “Churches, mosques and schools are not safe as they’re being invaded by terrorists. Some Nigerians in the North are seen fleeing to neighbouring countries to seek refuge.
“Soldiers who are supposed to be at the war front are tugging their khakis and resigning over lack of motivation from the service chiefs. There are cases of inadequate weapons and platforms”
“Soldiers have repeatedly complained
that their heavy platforms cannot move conveniently again. This has resulted in more and unprecedented blood bath. The toll has been always on the side of the troops because insurgents don’t tell when they want to strike.
“The troops struggle to get intelligence on Boko Haram plans again