Abuja, Maiduguri, Yola — Borno State Governor, Prof. Babagana Zulum, has attributed the long-drawn battle to rout insurgency in the North-east to sabotage.
The governor spoke as the military high command said it had taken delivery of new weapons to be deployed in the North-east to fight the insurgency.
The Nigerian Air Force (NAF) has also said it would deploy Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (UAV) in Katsina, Zamfara and Gombe States in its renewed determination to combat armed bandits and terrorists in the North-west and North-east.
Four Senior Advocates of Nigeria (SANs) have, however, advised the federal government to focus on the rehabilitation of the victims of insurgency, the majority of whom are currently living as Internally Displaced Persons (IDPs) in various camps scattered across Nigeria, rather than give succour to repentant insurgents.
The war on Boko Haram has been on for over a decade and despite huge budgetary allocations and claims of victory by the military, the war still rages.
The attack on the convoy of the Borno State governor last week by suspected members of a faction of Boko Haram and Islamic State of West Africa (ISWAP) in Baga had fuelled suspicion of sabotage.
The governor had expressed surprise at the attack on him, saying he was told the area was secured by the military authorities before he embarked on the trip to Baga.
Speaking yesterday to two of his colleagues, Governors Atiku Bagudu (Kebbi) and Badaru Abubakar (Jigawa) who represented the Progressives Governors Forum on a solidarity visit to him, Zulum warned President Muhammadu Buhari of sabotage by those involved in fighting terrorism in the North-east.
He added that this was the reason there is no end in sight yet to the war on insurgency in the North-east.
He accused some people of trying to frustrate the efforts of the federal government in ending the insurgency, adding that Buhari needs to know the truth.
He said: "Let me also re-echo my previous position with respect to the level of insurgency in Borno State. I earlier said that the gravity of the insurgency cannot be compared with what had happened between 2011 to 2015, and 2015 to date. Yes, it's true. The president has done well.
"But there's sabotage in the system that will not allow insurgency to end. The president has to know this very important point. When he came to Maiduguri two months ago, I said so because between 2011 and 2015, at a time, almost about 22 LGAs were under the insurgents; and out of the four main roads that lead to Maiduguri, only one was functional."
He called on the president to examine the security situation in the region critically, to ensure the efforts of his administration are no longer undermined.
The governor told his colleagues that he has come to know that the military has taken over the farmlands of residents.
He said there was no justification for this, stressing that the residents displaced by insurgency should not have been prevented from returning to their ancestral homes.
Zulum said: "There is one very important question that we need to ask: Why is the insurgency not ending? There's sabotage in the system and there's a need for the president to examine the current situation with a view to resolving it.
"We have a huge population and people do not have access to their agricultural lands, and poverty is one of the causes of insurgency. Why are you not allowing people to go back to their ancestral lands so that they will go and earn their living?
"A situation where our Nigerian military are farming the lands; denying access to the common man to farm; what justification do they have for not allowing our people to go back to their ancestral homes?"
Earlier, Bagudu had said they came to the state to sympathise with Zulum and to congratulate him for escaping death.
He described the governor as hardworking and someone appreciated by all.
He added that all governors are with him and are ready to support him in the onerous task of ending the insurgency.
On hand to receive the visiting governors were the state Deputy Governor, Alhaji Umar Kadafur; the former governor of the state, Senator Kashim Shettima, as well as Senator Ali Ndume and members of the State Executive Council.
Military Takes Delivery of New Weapons for North-east
The military said at the weekend it has taken delivery of new weapons to be deployed in the North-east to combat terrorism.
Speaking at a Sallah luncheon with troops, the Chief of Army Staff, Lt. General Tukur Buratai, said the Nigerian Army had taken delivery of additional vehicles and fighting equipment that were procured last year and deployed to the theatre of war in the last one year.
Buratai told troops of Super Camp 14 Damasak in Borno State that apart from the ones deployed last year, the Nigerian Army had taken delivery of "new weapons and armaments of different calibres that will soon be injected into the mission area."
He said Operation Lafiya Dole had recorded tremendous successes over Boko Haram, ISWAP, their international and local collaborators as well as their auxiliaries.
"Although a lot of progress has been made in containing the threats posed by the insurgents more needs to be done to maintain control over the liberated territories and to fully establish government authority in all areas within the North-east region.
"We must remain poised to ensure the final defeat of the terrorists and to resist any attempt by the criminals to re-establish control in the liberated area," Buratai added.
The Chief of Air Staff, Air Marshal Sadique Abubakar, also said at the weekend that unmanned aerial vehicles would be deployed in Katsina, Zamfara and Gombe States to contain insurgents and armed bandits.
Abubakar, at a luncheon with Nigerian Air Force (NAF) personnel of the Air Component of Operation Hadarin Daji, said: "Some of the Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (UAVs) being procured for the NAF would be stationed in Katsina and Gusau, to cover the North-west and Gombe for the North-east."
He added that steps were also being taken to improve the development and employment of NAF special forces in order to keep them motivated to remain the excellent lethal force they had become.
He charged the personnel to maintain control of the operational space and exploit every intelligence resource.
"We must continue to remain focused by maintaining the highest level of vigilance and combat readiness that the NAF is known for in order to rid our communities of criminal elements," he said.
In his remarks, Governor Aminu Masari of Katsina State while appreciating the immense contributions of the NAF in addressing the security challenges facing Katsina State and the entire North-west zone, expressed delight that the construction of the aircraft hangar, along with ancillary facilities would soon commence.
Addressing the soldiers during Eid-El-Kabir lunch with troops of the Air Taskforce Operation Lafiya Dole in Yola, Adamawa State capital as part of the tradition to foster comradeship in the fight against insurgency, Abubakar said the recent procurement of additional platforms such as the Super Tucano aircraft and other platforms had changed their mode of operations in the fight against the insurgency.
"The essence of this celebration is to help fill the void created by not being able to celebrate with our families because you are deployed at the frontlines.
"To this end, let me congratulate you for the recent procurement of the Super Tucano aircraft to NAF. It shows we are committed to ensuring the total elimination of the Insurgency in our country," he added.
Focus on Rehabilitation of Victims of Insurgency War, SANs Tell FG
Meanwhile, four SANs have advised the federal government to focus on the rehabilitation of the victims of insurgency, the majority of who are currently living as IDPs in various camps scattered across Nigeria.
The senior lawyers told THISDAY in separate interviews that nothing should be spared in the pursuit of peace in the country.
One of them, Professor Yemi Akinseye-George (SAN), said the repentant Boko Haram fighters being rehabilitated and reintegrated into the society should be properly documented.
"Their biometrics and all personal data should be collected and preserved by the security agencies. This will enhance effective monitoring and evaluation of the rehabilitation programme," he said.
According to him, such documentations would enable the country in a few years' time to know how many of those rehabilitated "have made good use of this second chance provided by the amnesty and how many have returned to criminality.
"They should also be trained and assisted to start new lives. Many of them were victims of bad and corrupt governance.
"As repentant persons, they should be assisted to contribute to the rehabilitation of their former victims who are still languishing in IDP camps. They can contribute to understanding the root causes of insurgency. They can assist the intelligence agencies on how to approach the fight against insurgency," he added.
Akinseye-George, who is the president of Centre for Socio-Legal Studies (CSLS) further said those in IDP camps must not be neglected, adding that they should equally be rehabilitated and assisted to return to normal life.
Another senior lawyer, Mallam Ahmed Raji (SAN), who noted that the Boko Haram saga called for a total holistic review, said the focus should be on causes more instead of planning as if Boko Haram had come to stay.
He said: "How come the insurgency has refused to go away? Are we adopting the right approach? Are the leaders sincere? Do we need foreign assistance? Is there anything to learn from Chad's recent exploits?
"The victims are more deserving than the aggressors. We should not give the impression that will suggest that some of our leaders are in bed with the insurgents.
"I honestly believe a meeting of all the former heads of the country, former Chiefs of Army Staff, all former Chiefs of Defence Staff and former Intelligence Chiefs ( it is sad Alhaji Umaru Shinkafi is late) may unravel the mystery surrounding the unending challenge. We should go to the cause and stop focusing on the effects. Something fundamental is wrong somewhere."
Mr. Dayo Akinlaja (SAN) said that the heinous crimes perpetrated by Boko Haram are such that there cannot be a moral basis for dignifying the repentant fighters.
According to him, "This is more so on the backdrop of what we read about that some of those who had previously been rehabilitated went back to their evil cohorts in the Boko Haram terrorist group. To me, the gravest concern is with the possibility of the so-called repentant ones going back to their evil and murderous ways.
"Be that as it may, I am mindful that the rehabilitation agenda could have been conceived as a strategy to stem the tide of the seeming intractable insurgency. In today's Nigeria, the number one challenge we have is that of the tragic insecurity dotting virtually every inch of our landscape."
He, however, advocated that everything must be done to ensure that the present crop of repentant Boko Haram members do not renege on their oath of allegiance and go back to their past activities with the terrorist group.
Akinlaja who expressed sadness that victims of Boko Haram are still largely in IDP camps said: "If rehabilitation is the price we have to pay to end Boko Haram, it is worthwhile to pursue it in my humble view."
Mr. John Baiyeshea (SAN), faulted the rehabilitation of Boko Haram fighters, saying that there is no such thing as repenting with insurgents.
"The rehabilitation programme for the so-called 'repentant' Boko Haram terrorists is ill-advised. Putting it mildly, it is a very bad policy. The truth of the matter is that Boko Haram elements hardly (if ever) repent. In order words, they don't truly or sincerely repent. It is deceitful to think that they repent," he said.
Baiyeshea added that integrating them back to society on the guise of being repentant is a disaster waiting to happen.
"Senator Ali Ndume who should know better (because he represents the constituencies most affected by Boko Haram terrorism), stated a few days ago that the policy is dangerous. He stated further that one so-called 'repentant' Boko Haram terrorist, killed his own father as soon as he returned home.
"Something has to be done to immediately reverse this ugly policy. It is tantamount to pampering terrorists and giving them and others of like mind, the impression that it pays to be involved in crime," he said.