10 March 2014

Nigeria: FG Spends N3.38 Trillion in Four Years On Security

Photo: Vanguard
Boko Haram cartoon.

The federal government has spent not less than N3.38 trillion to combat security challenges in the country in the last four years, recent findings have shown.

LEADERSHIP checks reveal that this amount only covers the allocations to the various agencies involved in security issues such as defence (army, navy and air force), police, Ministry of Interior (paramilitary) as well as the Office of the National Security Adviser.

A breakdown of the sum indicates that budgetary allocation to security stood at N621.17 billion in 2010. In the following year, 2011, the allocation was increased by 43 per cent to N888.54 billion following a rise in insurgencies particularly in the northern part of the country.

In 2012, the allocation to security rose marginally by 3.9 per cent to N923.54 billion and in 2013 it was further increased by 14.26 per cent to N955.46 billion.

Further analysis indicated that of the sum, 83.56 per cent of the allocation amounting to N2.91 trillion was projected for recurrent expenditure while N381.76 billion representing 16.43 per cent was budgeted for capital expenditure. In spite of these huge allocations, insurgencies have been on the rise in the country.

Insecurity has taken various forms in different parts of the country. In the south-west, armed robbers have taken over, while in the north cross-border bandits operate with the ease it takes hot knives to drive through butter. In the south-south, the fear of kidnapping has become very palpable: the aged, titled men, clerics, government officials, academics, professionals, women and children are not spared.

The spate of kidnapping across the country, the incessant wave of crime and armed robbery attacks even on the operatives of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC), the recent use of explosives as terrorist instrument, the recent ramming of a cab under an aircraft in Calabar -- all point to the fact that insecurity is fast becoming the norm in Nigeria.

The cycle of violence being unleashed on Nigerians by fundamentalist group Boko Haram has heightened fears among the populace and the international community that the hostility has gone beyond religious or political colouration.

Members of the terrorist group, Boko Haram, have killed no fewer than 582 people and left many others injured in several attacks in the north-east in the last two months.

On January 26, Boko Haram insurgents attacked a Catholic church in Waga Chakawa in Adamawa State and killed 30 worshippers.

The Catholic bishop of Yola, Mamza Stephen, said: "Some people tried to escape through the windows and the attackers shot at them. They cut people's throats."

He said the militants set off bombs, before burning houses and taking residents hostage during the four-hour siege.

By the end of January, the sect had killed over 115 people, including Catholics in two communities in Borno and Adamawa states.

On February 11, the terrorists killed no fewer than 67 people in Konduga in Borno State.

On February 15, Boko Haram attacked Izghe in Gwoza LGA of Borno State, and killed at least 146 people.

The sect also killed over 59 pupils on February 25, 2014, when it attacked the Federal Government College in Buni Yadi, Yobe State. The insurgents reportedly arrived at the college about 2am in 11 vans while the pupils were already asleep.

Again, the insurgents attacked Mafa LGA of Borno State three times within 24 hours. The attacks took place between March 1 and 2.

On the night of March 1, 2014, twin-bomb blasts left 52 people dead in Maiduguri. While rescue operations were on at the scene of the blasts, another set of Boko Haram insurgents attacked Mainok, a village about 50 kilometres from Maiduguri, killing 39.

On March 2, 35 people - 32 civilians and 3 suspected policemen - were killed during a fierce gunfight between insurgents and soldiers in Mafa, a community 45 kilometres east of Maiduguri.

It was gathered that the insurgents, armed with AA assault rifles and rocket-propelled grenades, also succeeded in setting fire to the camp of the soldiers in the community.

On March 3, police chief Zannah was reported as saying that suspected Boko Haram insurgents again attacked a Borno State community, killing 29 people.

The militants reportedly sent fliers to notify residents of the attack a week earlier.

On March 4, 2014, the violent sect attacked Jakana, a village about 35 kilometres from Maiduguri which shares a border with Mainok, where 40 people were killed.

While taking over as the new CDS at the Defence Headquarters, Abuja, on January 20, 2014, Badeh had boasted that the military would bring the insurgency in the country to an end before April this year.

Gunmen Kill 7 policemen, 1 civilian in Adamawa

A few hours after the military claimed that it killed over 200 insurgents in the ongoing crackdown, unknown gunmen suspected to be Boko Haram members have launched an attack on Fota town in Gombi local government area of Adamawa State. On Saturday night, they killed seven policemen and razed down public buildings including a police station, a court and three churches.

A resident of the area who simply identified himself as Musa said the gunmen stormed the area in their dozens Saturday night chanting "Allahu Akbar" before they started indiscriminate shooting resulting in the death of seven policemen, just as they attacked three churches, a pastor's house, a store and later razed down a local court.

Said he, "The attack on the town was launched at about 11pm. While we were at a wedding ceremony, the gunmen suspected to be members of Boko Haram struck. They first attacked the area police station, killing seven police officers instantly; the victims included mobile policemen deployed.

"They later looted the food stock of the churches before setting them ablaze.

"The gunmen drove in their dozens on bikes and other vehicles chanting 'Allahu Akbar' many times before fleeing, leading to the impromptu dispersion of the crowd."

"Many residents had to flee to nearby bushes while some slept on hills," Musa added.

Reports say that the police had earlier engaged the attackers in a gun duel that lasted 30 minutes, but were later overpowered. The gunmen were said to be better equipped than the police, although in the ensuing onslaught one gunman was shot and seriously wounded but was taken away by the gunmen.

It was also reported that the fleeing insurgents made a stop-over at a nearby village, Bisir, attacking another wedding gathering, killing one civilian and injuring many others.

"While we were about to round off the celebration, we started hearing gunshots and, before you knew it, one person was shot dead and many had bullet wounds.

"At least eight persons are now in hospital for treatment," said a victim who pleaded anonymity while he was admitted in a private hospital in Gombi.

The injured victim called for reinforcement as, according to him, "the security situation is still tense as many people have fled into the bush and we don't know what will happen again; the attackers have vowed to come back."

Another resident who identified herself as Maman Bebi said that the attackers seemed to be impregnable as they came in a convoy of Hillux pick-up vans shooting sporadically and people scampered into different directions for safety.

The source maintained that the military personnel manning different checkpoints staged a retreat as the gunmen laid a siege to the border villages for more than five hours.

When contacted, the Adamawa police public relations officer, DSP Muhammed Ibrahim, confirmed the attack but did not specify the number of casualties.

Similarly, the army public relations officer of the 23rd Armoured Brigade, Captain Jafaru Nuhu, confirmed the incident but could not state the number of casualties.

Suspected Boko Haram hideout demolished in Kaduna

A building located at Tashar Kanawa suspected to be a hideout for Boko Haram was demolished by the military yesterday. The suspects were said to have been terrorizing the Kwaru and Badarawa communities in Kaduna North local government area of the state.

Our correspondent who visited the scene of the demolished structure gathered that trouble started in the early hours of Sunday when gunshots were reported to have been fired from the building.

The gunshots attracted the attention of the neighbourhood who alerted the security people.

Two sons of the owner of the demolished building and a tenant were said to have been whisked away by the military personnel. Malam Sani, the owner of the house, who was not around at the time of the incident, was said to have surrendered himself to the military around 1:30pm when he came back to his house.

Another eyewitness said the military returned to the spot around noon and commenced the destruction of the building.

The aged wife of the landlord was sighted in front of the house with some of her children trying to salvage their property from the rubble.

She however could not talk to our correspondent because, according to her, she was too shocked to say anything.

There have been conflicting reports on the identity of people who fired the gunshots. While some believe they are mere criminals, others believe they have a link with the Boko Haram sect.

Boko Haram violence hits healthcare

Healthcare services have collapsed in the northern part of Nigeria's Borno state as doctors, nurses and pharmacists flee for their lives from brutal violence unleashed by Islamist Boko Haram militants.

Medical professionals say health services in the region have largely shut down, with mortality rates and vaccination programmes severely hit and pressure heaped on the skeleton staff that remain.

"The whole healthcare system in northern Borno has collapsed and healthcare delivery is nil," said Musa Babakura, a surgeon at the University of Maiduguri Teaching Hospital (UMTH).

Babakura said the situation was a "growing health crisis", with the sick forced to trek vasts distances to receive medical attention and vaccination programmes for children compromised.

Violence by Boko Haram militants has raged since 2009, but has been particularly ferocious in recent weeks, with around 500 people killed in suspected Islamist attacks since the start of the year.

Worst hit by militant attacks are villages in remote, rural areas near Borno's border with Cameroon, despite an increased military presence in the state.

Hospitals and clinics have not escaped raids, even after Nigeria's government imposed emergency rule on Borno and two other northeastern states in May last year.

Medical personnel have been kidnapped, either for ransom or to treat wounded fighters in Boko Haram's ranks, while pharmacies - mostly run by Christians - have faced armed robberies and looting.

The insecurity has forced local people to cross into neighbouring Cameroon in search of treatment, with pregnant women and the infirm using donkeys and auto-rickshaws to negotiate the difficult terrain.

The gruelling trek takes its toll, said Modu Faltaye, a local chief in Wulgo, on the shores of Lake Chad.

"By the time the sick reach the hospital [in Cameroon], they are in a worse state, which is why we lose a lot of our sick," he said.

"Naturally, the rate of maternal and infant mortality is bound to rise in the area as a result of complications arising from poor transportation facilities to hospital," added Babakura.

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