Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Nigerian Military Says Boko Haram Is Foreign-Driven

Boko Haram is foreign-driven, says Army

Wednesday, 28 September 2011 00:00 From Madu Onuorah (Abuja), Ayoyinka Olagoke (Uyo) and Obire Onakemu (Lagos)
Nigerian Guardian

THE pervasive suspicion in official quarters of the external dimension in the activities of the destructive Boko Haram sect is now over.

A critical security agency of the Federal Government, the Nigerian Army, which brainstormed on the country’s security challenges yesterday in Abuja, said based on the group’s modus operandi, access to cheap funds and bomb-making materials, and expertise in the illicit trade, it had come to the inevitable conclusion that Boko Haram enjoys tremendous external backing.

According to the Chief of Army Staff, Lt-Gen. Onyeabo Azubike Ihejirika, who spoke on the sect’s activities, declared that from Service assault on Boko Haram, it was convinced that it gets training and funding from abroad.

Ihejirika said from the type of weapons and communications equipment captured from the insurgents, it is “definite” that there is foreign involvement in the terrorism in Nigeria.

He was however not categorical on the foreign countries or groups that bankroll Boko Haram’s activities.

The Army’s position came a day after the Presidential Committee on Security Challenges in the North-East submitted its report to the government, where it recommended dialogue with the armed group.

Ihejirika’s position may fuel the government’s resolve to take the fight against terrorism to the doorsteps of its neighbouring countries. There have also been claims that the sect has strong link with al-Qaeda and insurgent groups in Somalia and Eritrea, which train its members on terrorism.

The Army chief said from the expertise Boko Haram had displayed in the preparation of Improvised Explosive Devises (IEDs), “the group is getting its training and funding from abroad.”

He spoke at the opening of a two-day Chief of Army Staff 3rd quarterly conference at the Army Headquarters Command Mess, Abuja, stating that the Army had taken a strong stand against indiscipline in its ranks through the use of all legal means at its disposal.

The meeting of the Army top leadership focuses on security and current operations involving the Service and how they can be improved upon.

The conference is attended by all the Service Principal Staff Officers at the Defence and Army Headquarters, General Officers Commanding (GOCs), Corps and Formation Commanders and heads of Army establishments.

The conference is a major activity in the yearly training of the Army and affords the leadership an opportunity for self-assessment and adjustment of strategies in line with emerging national challenges.

Ihejirika told journalists that “it is definite that the group that call itself Boko Haram receives training and possible funding from some foreign elements. This is evident from the type of weapons we have captured from them, the type of communications equipment we have captured from them and the expertise that they have displayed in the preparation of IEDs. The fact is that there is foreign involvement in the terrorism going on in Nigeria.”

The Army chief charged the participants to “appraise the performance of the Army in the local and external operations it is involved. Be frank and give serious criticisms of the performance so that we come up with ideas to improve the Army.”

Earlier, Chief of Army Policy and Plans, Maj.-Gen. Olakunle Akinyemi, said though the Army had received encomiums for its role in the 2011 general elections, it had equally received knocks for the performance of its troops in Internal Security Operations (ISOs).

He regretted that “some of our troops are getting into serious disciplinary issues that bring the Nigerian Army in bad light.”

Such disciplinary issues include extortion and the nonchalant attitude of junior commanders on the welfare of troops.

He therefore charged all commanding officers to ensure that their officers and soldiers are better prepared to perform the duties expected of them.

“The conduct of discipline professionalism must be maintained at all times as they enhance performance of the Army in Internal Security Operations,” he said.

Meanwhile, the Deputy Chairman of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), Prof. Samuel Friday Akpan, has described the existence of Boko Haram as a manifestation of the disintegration of the unity pattern in the North.

He told The Guardian in Uyo, Akwa Ibom State capital, that the sect is not a strong opposition to President Goodluck Jonathan administration but a fallout of the inability of northern leaders to collaborate and move the dynamics of state as enshrined in the Nigerian constitution to promote unity in the region.

Akpan said Boko Haram is the appearance of the frustration of those who want to dominate Nigeria but have lost out in the political terrain.

He described Jonathan as a leader with the ideas of peaceful co-existence in Nigeria and determination to carry the mandate of the constitution by ensuring the unity and economic development of the country.

Akpan said: ”Boko Haram is a manifestation of the disintegration of the unity pattern we used to think we have in the North. For me, I don’t see it as a strong opposition to President Jonathan but as a fall-out of the inability of northern leaders to be able to collaborate and move the dynamics of state collectivity into the embedded unity as enshrined in the Nigerian constitution. Therefore, the conflict or the challenge of attempting to frustrate the President that he is from the South or for religious sentiment is not sufficient. It is a manifestation of the leaders in the North being incapable of managing their internal variables and having allowed to over-vent to show that there is no more unity even in the North since they cannot speak with one voice.”

Also, the President of the Niger Delta People’s Forum (NDPF), Mr. George Utomhim, has claimed that the current acts of terrorism were deliberate efforts to destabilise Nigeria because a southern minority is the nation’s President.

He said Boko Haram is the product of a northern power bloc that had vowed to make the country ungovernable should power shift from the area after the death of President Umaru Musa Yar’Adua.

Utomhim said: “The act of terrorism is not against all Nigerians per se; it is against the Niger Delta people because one of them has become the country’s president. We see it as sabotage, an attempt to derail the government of President Jonathan.

“Right from the onset, we saw a northern oligarchy that says it would not accept a Federal Government led by President Jonathan, vowing to resist it at all cost. This is an attempt to cause trouble and break up the country.”

He told The Guardian that Niger Delta groups “have resolved that if that is the case, we are ready to fight for our right even if it means bringing the country to a standstill. We are ready to fight the cause; we are ready to face it with all our might. Even though we are a minority, we are ready to fight this cause to the end.”

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