Vanguard (Lagos)

Nigeria: It's Nigeria, Chad, Niger Operation - Army

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United States also condemned the violence. US State Department Spokesman Patrick Ventrell said: "We support the Nigerian authorities in their efforts to bring the perpetrators of violent acts to justice, and stress the importance of respecting human rights and protecting civilians in all security responses".

Senate orders probe, House of Reps react

The Senate, yesterday, ordered its committees on Defence, Police and National Security to carry out a full-scale investigation into circumstances that led to reported killing of 185 civilians in the shoot out.

The Senate action came after Senator Ma'aji Lawan, ANPP, Borno North, raised a Point of Order under Senate Rules to intimate the upper legislative chamber of alleged massacre carried out by the multi national task force.

Ma'aji, in a personal letter he read at the Senate plenary, asked his colleagues to intervene by investigating the killings that he said, took place in Baga, his hometown and senatorial district on the fateful day.

He said: "I stand before you today a very sad man. My zone, the Borno North Senatorial district, is today a no-go-area for normal operations of the government and for that matter, my normal regular civil conduct; be it business or social.

"My hometown of Baga is today in total ruins, with between 180 and 200 human lives lost and numerous other unaccounted, 2,000 homes, 62 cars and 284 motor cycles and tons and tons of food stuff destroyed", he added.

Continuing, he said: "At this point I do not want to immerse myself in the blame game of whether it is multinational task force, JTF or the insurgents that carried out the atrocities, but it bears the hallmark of the Udi Massacre. Whoever did it, that level of atrocity is condemnable and it is hereby condemned. I call for a full-scale investigation to unearth the truth, as this is a recurring decimal in all such past instances in Borno State".

After his presentation, Senate President, David Mark, who was the only person to respond, said the matter was a security one and considering the security implication, there shouldn't be any debate on it by the Senate.

"I don't want any debate on it because there is already a committee set up by the Federal Government to investigate it", he said.

He thereafter directed the Senate Committees on Defence, Police and National Security to investigate the incident and report back within 14 days.

But Mark directs the Senate joint committee to call the Chief of Army Staff with a view to ensuring that the military task force in the area keeps to rules of its engagement.

"You should call the Army Chief and ensure that our boys adhere to the rules of engagement", he said.

The Senate subsequently observed a one-minute silence in honour of the victims.

Speaking with newsmen later, Senator Ma'aji admitted that the insurgents, according to reports available to him, first attacked the military that, he said, were on a routine patrol in the area.

But he faulted the retaliatory action by the military, saying it was wrong for them to have involved civilians in their action against the insurgents just as he said the resort to using higher fire power against the insurgents was not the best way of arresting the Boko Haram insurgency in the country.

"The resort to arm in fighting terrorism in the country is a lazy way of going about it", he insisted.

Senator Ma'aji who confirmed that the Boko haram have taken over 10 local government councils in Borno State, blamed it on security personnel, whom he said, abandoned their duty posts.

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